Catholic Encyclopedia (1913)/Mirabilia Urbis Romæ
The title of a medieval Latin description of the city of Rome, dating from about 1150. Unhampered by any very accurate knowledge of the historical continuity of the city, the unknown author has described the monuments of Rome, displaying a considerable amount of inventive faculty. From the pontificate of Boniface VIII (1294-1303) to that of John XXII (1316-34) it was revised and attained unquestioned authority, despite the increase in the already large number of misconceptions and errors. Attention was first called to these different recensions by de Rossi in the first volume of his "Roma Sotterranea" (158 sqq.). Almost simultaneously appeared two editions of the text, by Parthey ("Mirabilia Romæ e codicibus Vaticanis emendata", Berlin, 1869) and by Jordan ("Topographie der Stadt Rom im Altertum", II, Berlin, 1871, 605-43), respectively. In the third section Jordan discusses at some length the Mirabilia and its redactions (357 sqq.), in the fourth, the earlier divisions of the work (401 sqq.), and in the fifth, the topography of the Mirabilia (421 sqq.), presenting most valuable information, the result of much research on all the questions involved. The latest edition is that of Duchesne in the "Liber Censuum de l'Eglise Romaine" (I, Paris, 1905, 262-73), being the text of the original of Cencius Camerarius with the variants of four other manuscripts. Especially valuable for a proper conception of the Mirabilia are the 125 notes appended by Duchesne on pp. 273-83, many of them of considerable length. (The concordance with the text in the "Excerta politici a presbitero Benedicto compositi de ordinibus Romanis et dignitatibus Urbis et Sacri Palatii" may be found in the "Liber Censuum", vol. II, 91, 92, n. 5.) A critical edition of the "Mirabilia Urbis" is still lacking. The contents of the Mirabilia fall into the following sections, the titles being taken from the "Liber Censuum": (1) De muro urbis (concerning the wall of the city); (2) De portis urbis (the gates of the city); (3) De miliaribus (the milestones); (4) Nomina portarum (the names of the gates); (5) Quot porte sunt Transtiberim (how many gates are beyond the Tiber); (6) De arcubus (the arches); (7) De montibus (the hills); (8) De termis (the baths); (9) De palatiis (the palaces); (10) De theatris (the theatres); (11) De locis qui inveniuntur in sanctorum passionibus (the places mentioned in the "passions" of the saints); (12) De pontibus (the bridges); (13) De cimiteriis (the cemeteries); (14) De iussione Octaviani imperatoris et responsione Sibille (the demand of the Emperor Octavian and the Sibyl's response); (15) Quare facti sunt caballi marmorei (why the marbles horses were made); (16) De nominibus iudicum et eorum instructionibus (the names of the judges and their instructions); (17) De columna Antonii et Trajani (the column of Antony and Trajan); (18) Quare factus sit equus qui dicitur Constantinus (why the horse was made, which is called of Constantine); (19) Quare factum sit Pantheon et postmodum oratio B. (why the pantheon was built and later oration B.); (20) Quare Octavianus vocatus sit Augustus et quare dicatur ecclesia Sancti Petri ad vincula (Why Octavianus was called Augustus, and why the church of St. Peter ad Vincula was so called); (21) De vaticano et Agulio; (22) Quot sunt templa trans Tiberim (how many temples are beyond the Tiber); (23) Predicatio sanctorum (the preaching of the saints).
The reader may consult in addition to the above-mentioned authors, the Monatsberichte of the Berlin Academy (1869), 681 sqq.; GRÄSSE, Beiträge zur Litteratur und Sage des Mittelalters; [NIBBY], Effemeridi letterarie di Roma (1820), 63 sqq. part of this was reprinted without alteration under the title of Mirabilia ossia le cose maravigliose di Roma (Rome, 1864). In editing the second of the two recensions mentioned above JORDAN (II, 33, 357) calls attention to the Sant' Isidro manuscript, in the collection of Cardinal Nicholas of Aragon (1356-62), on which are based the Graphia aureæ urbis Romæ edited by OZANAM, and the Chronicle of MARTINUS POLONUS. Notwithstanding the learned notes of DUCHESNE and the comprehensive commentary of JORDAN, already referred to (in which must be included section 3, vol. 1, pt. I, 37-74, on topographical research since the fifteenth century), many questions concerning the text of the Mirabilia still remain to be cleared up or are still in dispute. The authorship of the Mirabilia, which had never been discussed by any recognized authority, is treated in a most satisfactory manner by Duchesne in the sixth fascicule of the Liber Censuum (97-104), which has just appeared. He adduces numerous arguments to prove that the above-mentioned BENEDICT (Canonicus Sancti Petri de Urbe, cantor Romanæ Ecclesiæ, the compiler of the Ordo Romanus) was also the author of the Mirabilia, "Who, if not the indulgent author, would have wished to create a future for it by incorporating it with the Liber Censuum?" Duchesne's theory also explains the curious fact that the Mirabilia should be found in the Liber Censuum, with which it is in no way connected.
Paul Maria Baumgarten.