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It was

The life of the Romans was intensely practical. War and politics were their national pursuits, and during the earlier centuries of the republic their exclusive pursuits. therefore natural that the nation's best days were

Late developover before the national literature fairly began ; ment of Roman

. natural, likewise, that when at last literature did literature. begin its career, history was one of the earliest departments to be cultivated.

It is not to be understood that there were no records before this time. Soon after the establishment of the republic the chief pontiffs began to keep official The earliest records, called the Annales Maximi, containing records. a list of the magistrates, the prodigies, and the chief events . of each year, all expressed in the briefest manner. They were annually exposed to public view on a white tablet in front of the pontiff's official residence, and when finally collected and published, formed eighty books. But the pontiff's house with all its archives had perished in the burning of Rome by the Gauls in 390 B. C., so that the statements about the earlier period must have been restored from memory. The libri lintei, “ linen books,” were lists of magistrates earlier than 390 B. C., preserved in the temple of Juno Moneta in the Capitol, which had survived the catastrophe that overwhelmed the rest of the city.

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Inscriptions, which form so extensive a portion of the memorials of later times, were very scanty in the period prior to the development of literature.

The family records and traditions of noble houses doubtless constituted an important element in the formation of the national history, and a still more important element were the oral traditions of the people and the metrical lays, whereby they half unconsciously preserved from age to age the legends of the olden time.

About two hundred years B. C., the earliest poets, Naevius Historical and Ennius, treated themes taken from the na

poetry. tional history in poetical form, the one dealing thus with the first Punic war, the other with the traditional period from Aeneas to his own age. Soon after began the practice of writing prose annals,

that is, histories in strictly chronological arrangeThe Annalists.

ment, with the events of each year placed by themselves. Nearly contemporary with Ennius was Q. Fabius

Pictor, the first annalist, whose grandfather had Fabius Pictor.

gained this curious surname by painting a battle picture in the temple of Salus, and who was himself a prominent public man at the time of the Hannibalic war.

After this war was over, he wrote in Greek an account of "it, addressed to the educated among his own countrymen and to the Hellenic public, intended to offset the account given by Silenus, which he regarded as too favorable to the Carthaginians, intended also to glorify the achievements of his great kinsman, Fabius the Dictator. A general sketch of the national history constituted the introductory portion of this work, which was, upon the whole, of such a character that Fabius was not undeservedly called the father of Roman history. Livy highly respected him and often quoted his statements, but at second hand out of later annalists.


Contemporary with Fabius was L. Cincius Alimentus, who likewise wrote in Greek. Latin prose had not then been developed into a fit vehicle of literary expression. Cincius This writer a patrician, was praetor in

Alimentus. 211 B. C., and having been taken prisoner by Hannibal, had exceptional opportunities to inform himself with regard to the facts of the second Punic war, which was the subject of the more detailed part of his work, though he also began at the foundation of Rome.

L. Calpurnius Piso, consul in 133 B. C., wrote Annales, from the earliest period to his own. He was the

Piso. first to show a critical spirit, endeavoring to distinguish the historical from the mythical elements in the accounts of the earliest times.

Valerius Antias, a contemporary of Sulla, did more than any one else to falsify Roman history. His Annales, in at least seventy-five books, covered the whole ex- Valerius tent of it down to his own time. Where the

Antias. story seemed too bare and bald, he adorned it with the fictions of his own imagination. But his work was popular, and was much used as an authority by later writers. Livy, in his earlier books, was often led astray by him, and afterward speaks of him in strong terms of disapprobation.

The Historiae (in fourteen books) of Q. Aelius Tubero, the accuser of Ligarius, were highly praised by Diony

Tubero. sius for their accuracy. They extended from the landing of Aeneas to the civil war of Pompey and Caesar.

These are the names of a few of the best known of the many annalists of the last two centuries of the republic, whose works are known to us by reports of other writers and in a few cases by small fragments of the originals. Early in this period, however, M. Porcius Cato, Anti-annalistic

writers. the Censor, who had been the first to write history

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in Latin, also took the initiative in breaking away from the
annalistic method. In his Origines he omitted


the whole period for which the earlier annalists constituted the chief authority.

Some years later L. Coelius Antipater (after 120 B. c.) wrote his account of the second Punic war independently of the

annalists. He was a man of great culture and Coelius.

learning, a friend of C. Gracchus and the younger Scipio and Laelius. Dissatisfied with previous accounts of the war, written entirely from the Roman point of view, in his desire for impartiality he was the first of the Romans to consult the history of Silenus, Hannibal's Greek historiographer, and to compare it with the accounts given by his own country


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And this was not his only merit, for he tried also to introduce a better literary style, and made the innovation of inserting speeches into the course of his narrative, not merely to explain it, but also as a means of giving expression to his own reflections, and the supposed views of the actors in the story. Though there were other writers who decidedly opposed the annalistic method, yet it seems, on the whole, to have retained its popularity with both authors and readers.

Besides general histories, there were numerous biographies, memoirs, and monographs, dealing with the careers of indi

viduals or with short periods or episodes in the Special works,

career of the nation. In fact the catalogue of historical writers in the various departments is surprisingly but no great

long. Yet Cicero (De Leg. I. 5) laments “ Abest general history. historia litteris nostris," for none of the histories that had then appeared were worthy as literature of a place beside the poetry and oratory that had reached so high a degree of perfection. And though Sallust and Caesar soon afterward published their works, which have been recognized

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