He was the author of De mirabilibus mundi ('The wonders of the world') which circulated both under the title Collectanea rerum memorabilium ('Collection of Curiosities'), and Polyhistor; but the latter title was favoured by the author. The work is indeed a description of curiosities in a chorographical framework. Adventus, to whom it is dedicated, is identified with Oclatinius Adventus, consul 218. It contains a short description of the ancient world, with remarks on historical, social, religious and natural history questions. The greater part is taken from Pliny's Natural History and the geography of Pomponius Mela.
According to Mommsen, Solinus also used a chronicle (possibly by Cornelius Bocchus) and a Chorographia pliniana, an epitome of Pliny's work with additions made about the time of Hadrian. Schanz, however, suggests the Roma and Prata of Suetonius.
A greatly revised version of his original text was made, perhaps it is now thought by Solinus himself. This version contains a letter that Solinus wrote as an introduction to the work which gives the work the title Polyhistor ('multi-descriptive'). Both versions of the work circulated widely and eventually Polyhistor was taken for the author's name. It was popular in the Middle Ages, hexameter abridgments being current under the names of Theodericus and Petrus Diaconus.
The commentary by Saumaise in his Plinianae exercitationes (1689) is indispensable; best edition by Mommsen (1895), with valuable introduction on the manuscripts, the authorities used by Solinus, and subsequent compilers. See also Teuffel, Hist. of Roman Literature (Eng. trans., 1900), 389; and Schanz, Geschichte der römischen Litteratur (1904), iv. I. There is an old English translation by A Golding (1587) and a modern one with commentary by Dr Arwen Apps from Macquarie University.
- Hermann Walter, Die ‘Collectanea rerum memorabilium’ des C. Julius Solinus. Ihre Entstehung und die Echtheit ihrer Zweitfassung, Wiesbaden, 1969 (Hermes. Einzelschriften, 22).
- The Latin Library, Latin texts of both the C.L.F. Panckoucke edition (Paris 1847) and the Mommsen edition (1864).
- Online Galleries, History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries High resolution images of works by Solinus in .jpg and .tiff format.
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