The Ancient Library

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On this page: History (continued)



the works of Greek and Roman writers now lost. A considerable part of this still re­mains. nicolaus of Damascus, who lived a little later, was the author of a great general history, of which we have consider­able fragments. DI6N ysius of Halicarnassus composed, a few years before Christ, his Roman Archaeology, about half of which has survived. This was the ancient history of Rome dowu to the first Punic War, writ­ten with taste and care. In the second half of the 1st century a.d. the Hebrew josephus wrote his Jewish Archieology and his His­tory of the Jewish War. At the beginning of the 2nd century plutarch of Chse-ronea produced his excellent biographies of famous Greeks and Romans. In the course of the same century appeared the Anabasis of Alexander the Great, written after the best authorities by arrian of Nicomedia, the StrdtS gematfi of the Macedonian poly^e-NUS, a number of examples of military stratagems collected from older writers ; and a part of the Roman History of the Alexan­drian appian, ethnographically arranged. At the beginning of the 3rd century Dio cassius of Nicsea conceived and executed his great work on Roman history, which has unfortunately come down to us in a very mutilated form. His younger contemporary, herodianus, wrote an interesting History of the Ccesars, which still survives, from the death of Marcus Aurelius to Gordian. Ancient chronology is much indebted to the Chronicle of eusebius, bishop of Csesarea. This was written in the 4th century a.d., and only survives in translations. Among later writers we may mention ZoslMUS (in the second half of the 6th century), the author of a history of the emperors, from Augustus to 410 a.d.

(II) Ancient Roman History. The be­ginnings of Roman history go back to about 200 B.C. The form of composition was, until the first half of the 1st century b.c., almost exclusively that of annals, and the historians previous to that date are, in consequence, usually comprised under the term annalists. (For the special repre­sentatives of this style, see annalists.) They confined themselves exclusively to the history of their country in its widest extent, from the earliest times to their own. In later times, but not till then, Roman histo­rians undertook to write on the events of special periods, generally on those of their own time. The early annalistic writers had no style. It is not until the know­ledge of Greek literature and the develop-

ment of rhetorical style has reached a higher stage, in the second half of the 2nd century B.C., that any attempt at good writing is discernible. The first indication of such an attempt is the tendency to rhe­torical ornamentation. In the Ciceronian age, the art of prose writing had greatly advanced, and many men of mark devoted themselves to history. Some endeavoured to include foreign history within the lines of their narrative. This was the case, for instance, with cornelius nepos, in his great biographical work, De Vlns Ulustri-bus. The biographies which remain are

; mostly those of noil - Roman generals.

! cjesar and sallust surpass all the other historical writers of this period both in form and matter. Sallust is an imitator of Thucydides, and the first Roman histo­rian who can lay any claim to finished exe­cution. The other historians of this period whose works have come down to us are HlRTius, who continued Caesar's Commen-tarffi, and the authors of the Alexandrian, African, and Spanish Wars.

The Augustan age produced the Roman history of livy, a work as remarkable for its comprehensiveness as for its literary finish. The greater part of it is unhappily-lost. The first general history written in Latin, by trogds pompeius, belongs to the

| same period. This is only preserved in an epitome by justinus. The 1st century a.d. was fruitful of historical literature, but only a certain number of writings have sur­vived : a short sketch of Roman history by

\ velleius paterculus, which is unduly influenced by the spirit of court adulation; a collection of historical anecdotes by vale­rius maximus ; a very rhetorical history of Alexander the Great, by curtius rufus ; and a number of instances of military stra­tagems by julius frontinus. The great history of the empire comprised in the Annales and Historian of tacitus, one of the most important monuments of Roman lite­rature, was written partly in the 1st and partly in the 2nd century a.d. In the beginning of the 2nd century a.d. we have suetonius' Lives of the Caisars, and the panegyrical account of Roman history by florus.

After this period, Suetonius becomes the model of historians, and their favourite sub­ject the doings of the emperors and the imperial court. These lost writings were the main sources of the Historia Augusta, a collection of biographies of the emperors from Hadrian to Numeriau (117-284 a.d.).

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