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The history of Rome’s regal period and early republic is highly problematic due to the fact that ancient accounts were written during the second and first centuries B.C., long after the events that they described.1 Consequently, modern historians often disagree substantially in their interpretations and reconstructions, depending upon their presuppositions concerning the reliability of the ancient sources and the criteria by which ancient traditions should be considered accurate. Thus a serious study of early Roman history cannot be undertaken without a clear understanding and continual examination of the nature and veracity of the ancient sources that purport to record the history of Rome’s distant past. The two most important ancient accounts of early Rome that have survived from antiquity are the first ten books of Livy’s History of Rome and the Roman Antiquities of Dionysius of Halicarnassus, both of which were composed during the closing decades of the first century B.C. But since these two narratives came at the end of nearly two hundred years of a long and varied historiographical tradition, and were the authors’ own synthesized redactions of earlier histories which are now lost except in fragments,2 a survey of the ancient sources for early Chapter 3 The Ancient Sources for Early Roman History 59 1. For other treatments of this subject, see Raaflaub and Cornell in Raaflaub 1986, 47–65; Ogilvie and Drummond in CAH VII.2 1989, 1–29; Cornell 1995, 1–30; and Oakley 1997, 3–108. 2. The term “fragment” is used by modern scholars of ancient history to refer to a portion of a lost ancient historical account that now survives in another surviving ancient literary text. A fragment can be either a verbatim quotation from a lost work or a paraphrase of a portion of its content. See Brunt 1980. In some instances (e.g., Cincius Alimentus, Postumius Albinus, and C. Acilius), we possess only a few fragments from a lost work and are therefore almost entirely ignorant of the work’s nature and content, but in other cases (e.g., Cato, Calpurnius Piso, Claudius Quadrigarius, and Valerius Antias), the fragments are sufficiently numerous to Roman history may properly begin with an overview of Livy’s and Dionysius ’s predecessors.3 THE ANNALISTIC TRADITION As they did in many aspects of culture and literature, the Romans adopted the practice of historical writing from the Greeks, but the Greeks themselves did not begin to pay serious attention to Rome in their historical accounts until the Pyrrhic War (280–275 B.C.), when Rome was completing its subjugation of Italy and was involved in a war with the Greek city of Tarentum. Timaeus, a native of the Sicilian Greek town of Tauromenium, in his detailed history of the western Greeks from earliest times down to the eve of the First Punic War between Rome and Carthage (i.e., 264 B.C.), not only narrated the events of the Pyrrhic War but also treated Rome’s mythical origin and early history in some detail. He visited Lavinium in Latium and made inquiries concerning the nature of the Penates worshipped by the Latins. He was somewhat familiar with the Roman yearly sacrifice of the October Horse, which he explained with reference to the Romans’ descent from the Trojans. He dated the foundations of Rome and Carthage to the same year (814/3 B.C.); and he ascribed the invention of Roman bronze money to King Servius Tullius.4 Another Sicilian Greek, Philinus of Acragas, wrote a contemporary historical account of the First Punic War (264–241 B.C.), but it was the momentous nature of the Second Punic or Hannibalic War (218–201 B.C.) that apparently prompted two Roman senators , Q. Fabius Pictor and L. Cincius Alimentus, to write the first native 60 ancient sources for early roman history give us a fairly clear picture of the work’s structure, overall reliability, and historical methodology . The fragments of the lost histories of Roman republican authors are set out in their Greek and Latin texts in Peter 1914. It should be noted, however, that Peter ignored as fictitious the numerous citations of republican writers in the Origo Gentis Romanae, a short Latin treatise of late antiquity concerned with Roman mythology from primordial times down to the city’s foundation by Romulus. For the rehabilitation of this work’s citations see Momigliano 1958. The Latin text of this treatise is published in Pichlmayr 1970. In recent...


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