Cum e Graecia in Italiam rediremus et Brundisium iremus egressique e naui in terram in portu illo inclito spatiaremur, quem Q. Ennius remotiore paulum, sed admodum scito uocabulo ‘praepetem’ appellauit, fasces librorum uenalium expositos uidimus. 2Atque ego auide statim pergo ad libros. 3Erant autem isti omnes libri Graeci miraculorum fabularumque pleni, res inauditae, incredulae, scriptores ueteres non paruae auctoritatis: Aristeas Proconnesius et Isigonus Nicaeensis et Ctesias et Onesicritus et Polystephanus et Hegesias; 4ipsa autem uolumina ex diutino situ squalebant et habitu aspectuque taetro erant. 5Accessi tamen percontatusque pretium sum et adductus mira atque insperata uilitate libros plurimos aere pauco emo eosque omnis duabus proximis noctibus cursim transeo; atque in legendo carpsi exinde quaedam et notaui mirabilia et scriptoribus fere nostris intemptata eaque his commentariis aspersi, ut, qui eos lectitabit, is ne rudis omnino et ἀνήκοος inter istiusmodi rerum auditiones reperiatur.
When I was returning from Greece to Italy and had come to Brundisium, after disembarking I was strolling about in that famous port, which Quintus Ennius called praepes, or “propitious,” using an epithet that is somewhat far-fetched, but altogether apt. There I saw some bundles of books exposed for sale, and I at once eagerly hurried to them. Now, all those books were in Greek, filled with marvellous tales, things unheard of, incredible; but the writers were ancient and of no mean authority: Aristeas of Proconnesus, Isigonus of Nicaea, Ctesias and Onesicritus, Philostephanus and Hegesias. The volumes themselves, however, were filthy from long neglect, in bad condition and unsightly. Nevertheless, I drew near and asked their price; then, attracted by their extraordinary and unexpected cheapness, I bought a large number of them for a small sum, and ran through all of them hastily in the course of the next two nights. As I read, I culled from them, and noted down, some things that were remarkable and for the most part unmentioned by our native writers; these I have inserted here and there in these notes, so that whoever shall read them may not be found to be wholly ignorant and ἀνήκοος, or “uninstructed,” when hearing tales of that kind.
(trans. J.C. Rolfe 1927)