By John J. Contreni
Rheinisches Museum für Philologie, New Series 146 (2003)
Introduction: In 1880 Hermann Hagen (1844–1898), professor of classical philology and director of the philology seminar in the University of Bern, published in Rheinisches Museum für Philologie an epigram from a Bern manuscript that he ascribed to Emperor Octavian Augustus. Hagen probably is best remembered today for his still unsurpassed 1875 catalogue of Bern’s rich collection of medieval manuscripts, for his contribution to Georg Thilo’s edition of Servius’ commentary on Vergil, and for his facsimile edition of the “Bern Horace”. He was also the author of numerous other articles and editions, most of them inspired by the more than 700 manuscripts in the Pierre Daniel (ca. 1530–1603) and Jacob Bongars (1554–1612) collection conserved in Bern’s Burgerbibliothek. The epigram Hagen attributed to Octavian Augustus in these pages more than 120 years ago is easily his most controversial publication. The attribution of a text to Rome’s first emperor guaranteed its celebrity, but questions concerning its authenticity also guaranteed its notoriety.