The erroneous idea that Ibid is the
author of the Lives is so frequently met with, even among those pretending
to a degree of culture, that it is worth correcting. It should be a matter
of general knowledge that Cf. is responsible for this work. Ibid's masterpiece,
on the other hand, was the famous Op. Cit. wherein all the significant
undercurrents of Graeco-Roman expression were crystallised once for all
- and with admirable acuteness, notwithstanding the surprisingly late date
at which Ibid wrote. There is a false report - very commonly reproduced
in modern books prior to Von Schweinkopf's monumental Geschichte der
Ostrogothen in Italien - that Ibid was a Romanised Visigoth of Ataulf's
horde who settled in Placentia about 410 A. D. The contrary cannot be too
strongly emphasised; for Von Schweinkopf, and since his time Littlewit1
have shewn with irrefutable force that this strikingly isolated figure
was a genuine Roman - or at least as genuine a Roman as that degenerate
and mongrelised age could produce - of whom one might well say what Gibbon
said of Boethius, "that he was the last whom Cato or Tully could have acknowledged
for their countryman." He was, like Boethius and nearly all the eminent
men of his age, of the great Anician family, and traced his genealogy with
much exactitude and self-satisfaction to all the heroes of the republic.
His full name - long and pompous according to the custom of an age which
had lost the trinomial simplicity of classic Roman nomenclature - is stated
by Von Schweinkopf3 to
have been Caius Anicius Magnus Furius Camillus Aemilianus Cornelius Valerius
Pompeius Julius Ibidus; though Littlewit4
rejects Aemilianus and adds Claudius Deciusfunianus; whilst
radically, giving the full name as Magnus Furius Camillus Aurelius Antoninus
Flavius Anicius Petronius Valentinianus Aegidus Ibidus.
"...as Ibid says in his famous Lives of the Poets."
- From a student theme.
The eminent critic and biographer was born in the year
486, shortly after the extinction of the Roman rule in Gaul by Clovis.
Rome and Ravenna are rivals for the honour of his birth, though it is certain
that he received his rhetorical and philosophical training in the schools
of Athens - the extent of whose suppression by Theodosius a century before
is grossly exaggerated by the superficial. In 512, under the benign rule
of the Ostrogoth Theodoric, we behold him as a teacher of rhetoric at Rome,
and in 516 he held the consulship together with Pompilius Numantius Bombastes
Marcellinus Deodamnatus. Upon the death of Theodoric in 526, Ibidus retired
from public life to compose his celebrated work (whose pure Ciceronian
style is as remarkable a case of classic atavism as is the verse of Claudius
Claudianus, who flourished a century before Ibidus); but he was later recalled
to scenes of pomp to act as court rhetorician for Theodatus, nephew of
Upon the usurpation of Vitiges, Ibidus fell into disgrace
and was for a time imprisoned; but the coming of the Byzantine-Roman army
under Belisarius soon restored him to liberty and honours. Throughout the
siege of Rome he served bravely in the army of the defenders, and afterward
followed the eagles of Belisarius to Alba, Porto, and Centumcellae. After
the Frankish siege of Milan, Ibidus was chosen to accompany the learned
Bishop Datius to Greece, and resided with him at Corinth in the year 539.
About 541 he removed to Constantinopolis, where he received every mark
of imperial favour both from Justinianus and Justinus the Second. The Emperors
Tiberius and Maurice did kindly honour to his old age, and contributed
much to his immortality - especially Maurice, whose delight it was to trace
his ancestry to old Rome notwithstanding his birth at Arabiscus, in Cappadocia.
It was Maurice who, in the poet's 101st year, secured the adoption of his
work as a textbook in the schools of the empire, an honour which proved
a fatal tax on the aged rhetorician's emotions, since he passed away peacefully
at his home near the church of St. Sophia on the sixth day before the Kalends
of September, A. D. 587, in the 102nd year of his age.
His remains, notwithstanding the troubled state of Italy,
were taken to Ravenna for interment; but being interred in the suburb of
Classe, were exhumed and ridiculed by the Lombard Duke of Spoleto, who
took his skull to King Autharis for use as a wassail-bowl. Ibid's skull
was proudly handed down from king to king of the Lombard line. Upon the
capture of Pavia by Charlemagne in 774, the skull was seized from the tottering
Desiderius and carried in the train of the Frankish conqueror. It was from
this vessel, indeed, that Pope Leo administered the royal unction which
made of the hero-nomad a Holy Roman Emperor. Charlemagne took Ibid's skull
to his capital at Aix, soon after- ward presenting it to his Saxon teacher
Alcuin, upon whose death in 804 it was sent to Alcuin's kinsfolk in England.
William the Conqueror, finding it in an abbey niche where
the pious family of Alcuin had placed it (believing it to be the skull
of a saint6 who had miraculously
annihilated the Lombards by his prayers), did reverence to its osseous
antiquity; and even the rough soldiers of Cromwell, upon destroying Ballylough
Abbey in Ireland in 1650 (it having been secretly transported thither by
a devout Papist in 1539, upon Henry VII's dissolution of the English monasteries),
declined to offer violence to a relic so venerable.
It was captured by the private soldier Read-'em-and-Weep
Hopkins, who not long after traded it to Rest-in-Jehovah Stubbs for a quid
of new Virginia weed. Stubbs, upon sending forth his son Zerubbabel to
seek his fortune in New England in 1661 (for he thought ill of the Restoration
atmosphere for a pious young yeoman), gave him St. Ibid's - or rather Brother
Ibid's, for he abhorred all that was Popish - skull as a talisman. Upon
landing in Salem Zerubbabel set it up in his cupboard beside the chimney,
he having built a modest house near the town pump. However, he had not
been wholly unaffected by the Restoration influence; and having become
addicted to gaming, lost the skull to one Epenetus Dexter, a visiting freeman
It was in the house of Dexter, in the northern part of
the town near the present intersection of North Main and Olney Streets,
the occasion of Canonchet's raid of March 30, 1676, during King Philip's
War; and the astute sachem, recognising it at once as a thing of singular
venerableness and dignity, sent it as a symbol of alliance to a faction
of the Pequots in Connecticut with whom he was negotiating. On April 4
he was captured by the colonists and soon after executed, but the austere
head of Ibid continued on its wanderings.
The Pequots, enfeebled by a previous war, could give the
now stricken Narragansetts no assistance; and in 1680 a Dutch furtrader
of Albany, Petrus van Schaack, secured the distinguished cranium for the
modest sum of two guilders, he having recognised its value from the half-effaced
inscription carved in Lombardic minuscules (palaeography, it might be explained,
was one of the leading accomplishments of New-Netherland fur-traders of
the seventeenth century).
From van Schaack, sad to say, the relic was stolen in
1683 by a French trader, Jean Grenier, whose Popish zeal recognised the
features of one whom he had been taught at his mother's knee to revere
as St. Ibide. Grenier, fired with virtuous rage at the possession of this
holy symbol by a Protestant, crushed van Schaack's head one night with
an axe and escaped to the north with his booty; soon, however, being robbed
and slain by the half-breed voyageur Michel Savard, who took the skull
- despite the illiteracy which prevented his recognising it - to add to
a collection of similar but more recent material.
Upon his death in 1701 his half-breed son Pierre traded
it among other things to some emissaries of the Sacs and Foxes, and it
was found outside the chief's tepee a generation later by Charles de Langlade,
founder of the trading post at Green Bay, Wisconsin. De Langlade regarded
this sacred object with proper veneration and ransomed it at the expense
of many glass beads; yet after his time it found itself in many other hands,
being traded to settlements at the head of Lake Winnebago, to tribes around
Lake Mendota, and finally, early in the nineteenth century, to one Solomon
Juneau, a Frenchman, at the new trading post of Milwaukee on the Menominee
River and the shore of Lake Michigan.
Later traded to Jacques Caboche, another settler, it was
in 1850 lost in a game of chess or poker to a newcomer named Hans Zimmerman;
being used by him as a beer-stein until one day, under the spell of its
contents, he suffered it to roll from his front stoop to the prairie path
before his home - where, falling into the burrow of a prairie-dog, it passed
beyond his power of discovery or recovery upon his awaking.
So for generations did the sainted skull of Caius Anicius
Magnus Furius Camillus Aemilianus Cornelius Valerius Pompeius Julius Ibidus,
consul of Rome, favourite of emperors, and saint of the Romish church,
lie hidden beneath the soil of a growing town. At first worshipped with
dark rites by the prairie-dogs, who saw in it a deity sent from the upper
world, it afterward fell into dire neglect as the race of simple, artless
burrowers succumbed before the onslaught of the conquering Aryan. Sewers
came, but they passed by it. Houses went up - 2303 of them, and more -
and at last one fateful night a titan thing occurred. Subtle Nature, convulsed
with a spiritual ecstasy, like the froth of that region's quondam beverage,
laid low the lofty and heaved high the humble - and behold! In the roseal
dawn the burghers of Milwaukee rose to find a former prairie turned to
a highland! Vast and far-reaching was the great upheaval. Subterrene arcana,
hidden for years, came at last to the light. For there, full in the rifted
roadway, lay bleached and tranquil in bland, saintly, and consular pomp
the dome-like skull of Ibid!
1 Rome and Byzantium: A Study
in Survival (Waukesha, 1869), Vol. XX, p. 598.
2 Influences Romains clans le
Moyen Age (Fond du Lac, 1877), Vol. XV, p. 720.
3 Following Procopius, Goth.
4 Following Jornandes, Codex Murat.
5 After Pagi, 50-50.
6 Not till the appearance of von
Schweinkopf's work in 1797 were St. Ibid and the rhetorician properly re-identified.