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CHAPTER 23. History and Collective Memory in the Middle Republic


Subject Roman History » Roman Republic

Key-Topics identity, memory, republic(s)

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405102179.2006.00026.x


Legends of the origins of the Roman People and their rise to imperial greatness, full-blooded stories about feats of courage in war and peace of the great heroes of the glorious past, and exemplary anecdotes about their staunch steadfastness in the face of adversity: in the eyes of mid- and late-republican Romans - this was the stuff that history was made of. Polybius - the Greek historian who tried to explain how the Romans succeeded in subjecting nearly the whole inhabited world under their sole dominion in less than 53 years - also knew of many stories about many men that were already part and parcel of Roman history in his day. This kind of (hi-)story and the concomitant conception of Rome's past, which every reasonably well-educated Roman used to have at the tips of his fingers, had been the main subject matter and, indeed, the backbone of historiography ever since its beginnings in the final decades of the third century. From this decisive initial stage onward, the practice of writing history - that is, by definition, Roman history - was, and would remain at least until the end of the following century, a prestigious task for members of the sociopolitical elite: Q. Fabius Pictor - according to the unanimous conviction of later Romans, the founder of this typically Roman-style historiography, who nevertheless wrote in Greek - was a senator, perhaps of praetorian rank, a diplomat, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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