Cornelius Nepos: A Selection, Including the Lives of Cato and Atticus

Cornelius Nepos: A Selection, Including the Lives of Cato and Atticus

Cornelius Nepos: A Selection, Including the Lives of Cato and Atticus

Cornelius Nepos: A Selection, Including the Lives of Cato and Atticus

Synopsis

This book, the flagship of the new Clarendon Ancient History Series, provides a complete translation of and historical commentary on the most important works of Cornelius Nepos (c.99-c.24 B.C.). In addition to Nepos's biographies of Cato and Atticus, the book includes the Preface to the foreign generals, fragments, and the letters of Cornelia.

Excerpt

This collection includes Nepos' two Roman lives, the tiny Cato and the Atticus, with a collection of selected fragments of Cato, of Atticus, and of Nepos himself, which have never been gathered together and discussed in English. In addition, I translate and discuss Nepos' preface to his Lives of the Foreign Generals, central to our view of his cultural position and to his outlook as a biographer, and the 'Letter of Cornelia', transmitted with the works of Nepos, and engrossing in its own right. Elizabeth Rawson, in her book Intellectual Life in the Late Roman Republic, has done a very great deal to illuminate the byways of Roman history, biography, and antiquarian writing in the late republic, and a close look at some of the central texts may now be timely. It is possibly a consequence of a long-held conviction that 'Nepos is a school author' that he has never attracted scholars of distinction; commentaries on him have been of a lamentable standard for the most part, and it is my hope that this translation with commentary will make him more interesting and accessible: the Atticus, above all, is a central text which is only now emerging from millennia of neglect.

In recent months, I have occasionally been asked how, after my 'disdainful' remarks about Nepos in CHCL (p. xi quite falsely suggests other authorship of my bibl., 845), I could venture to return to an author I so little respected.To some elements of that condemnation I still adhere, unconvinced, for example, that Nepos writes elegant or agreeable Latin, and reluctant in my translation to conceal his lumbering periods behind discreet paraphrase. Elsewhere time has brought caution and revision (for example, on the Chronica). The Atticus was skimped in 1982, not least because it is in some ways a complex work which has quite literally never been studied right through in detail. To Nepos, as a biographer who is capable of trying honestly to hold up a mirror steadily to his subject, I shall hasten to pay tribute. Careful enquiry has, however, also revealed follies and vices hitherto unsuspected. Since my earlier discussion, a good deal has been . . .

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