The Roman Historians

The Roman Historians

The Roman Historians

The Roman Historians

Synopsis

The Romans' devotion to their past pervades almost every aspect of their culture. But the clearest image of how the Romans wished to interpret their past is found in their historical writings. This book examines in detail the major Roman historians:* Sallust* Livy* Tacitus* Ammianusas well as the biographies written by:* Nepos* Tacitus* Suetonius* the Augustan History* the autobiographies of Julius Caesar and the Emperor Augustus.Ronald Mellor demonstrates that Roman historical writing was regarded by its authors as a literary not a scholarly exercise, and how it must be evaluated in that context. He shows that history writing reflected the political structures of ancient Rome under the different regimes.

Excerpt

This book is designed as an introduction to the masterpieces of Roman historical and biographical writing. Even after two millennia, these books remain enjoyable and intellectually stimulating, but they were written for a very different audience and the contemporary reader needs to understand their political and literary context. My aim is to provide the necessary setting and entice new readers to these books which have had such a lasting impact on the western tradition. Since this slim volume is necessarily unencumbered by scholarly apparatus, I apologize to those scholars, past and present, whose ideas appear unacknowledged in these pages. I have appended brief suggestions for further reading.

The Roman Historians is intended as a companion to T.J. Luce's The Greek Historians (Routledge, 1997) and also owes its birth to a kind invitation from Richard Stoneman of Routledge. I am grateful to UCLA for a sabbatical leave, and to the UCLA Research Council for its continuing support. The book was largely written during a year as a visitor in the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. I am grateful to Professors Glen Bowersock, Christian Habicht, and Patricia Crone for making the Institute a hospitable place to work, and to colleagues in Classics and History at Princeton University for their welcome. Colleagues at those institutions kindly took time from their own work to give me suggestions on this book: Graeme Clarke and Ben Isaac read a draft of the entire manuscript, and Glen Bowersock, Robert Kaster, and Geoffrey Rickman read one or more chapters. They, and especially the anonymous readers, gave me much useful advice; for the errors and idiosyncratic views that remain I am wholly responsible. Translations unattributed to another source are my own.

The manuscript was also read, and vigorously corrected, by my wife, Anne Mellor. As a professor of English, her views on grammar

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