Julius Obsequens’s book, Liber Prodigiorum : A Roman era record of meteorite falls, fireballs, and other celestial phenomena

Annarita Franza, Giovanni Pratesi

Meteoritics & Planetary Science


“Julius Obsequens was the pseudonym of a Roman historian presumably living in the 4th century ad , whose life is shrouded in mystery. All that is known about Obsequens’s biography is that he was the author of a book entitled Liber Prodigiorum (Book of Prodigies ), a collection of prodigies deduced from Livy’s Ab Urbe Condita Libri (Books from the Founding of the City ). The Liber Prodigiorum covered the period from 190 to 11 bc and gathered a chronological list of portents of various kinds (e.g., births of monstrous animals or men, statues that shed blood, voices from beyond the grave, epidemics, earthquakes, unidentified flying objects). Among these extraordinary reports, chronicles of celestial phenomena were also included. The interdisciplinary approach adopted in this research has clarified the nature of the events described in the text and has enabled the identification of new Italian meteorite falls that are not included in the Meteoritical Bulletin Database.”