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News of the Battle of Pydna at Rome.
Chapters 7-9

Capture of Perseus. Summary of Macedonian History.

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I. Imperium Romanum


II. Rome in the Republican Period


Forum and Capitol in the Republican Period


Campania .

V. Italy at the Beginning of the Second Punic War

VI. Latium

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1. The General Character of Roman History. — The Romans of Livy's time had not developed the idea of minute scientific study, and their standard of historical accuracy was therefore different from our own. Moreover, the sources of information for the earlier periods were meager and inaccurate. Add to these fundamental disadvantages the fact that, simply to make his narrative interesting, a writer felt justified in passing lightly over an important incident or in magnifying the importance of a trivial one, and it is not surprising that we find very obvious inconsistencies and impossibilities. The statement of Quintilian (10, 1, 31), though written a century after Livy, indicates the general conception of historical writing: historia est proxima poetis et quodam modo carmen solutum, et scribitur ad narrandum, non ad probandum.

2. Sources for the History of the Early Period. — The writing of history at Rome began with the annales pontificum, called also annales maximi, a brief statement of important events, annually exhibited by the pontifex maximus, and preserved in his office, the Regia. Here were recorded the names of magistrates, the death of important men, decrees, campaigns, eclipses, prodigies, etc. The publication of these records began, according to Mommsen, in the first half of the fifth century B.C. Another duty of the pontifices was the preparation of the annual calen

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dars (fasti). These designated the days for the celebration of festivals and sometimes affixed a brief statement of an important event to the anniversary of the day on which it had occurred. These calendars, first published in 304 B.C., were an occasional, though not important, source of historical information. The same name (fasti) was applied to official lists of consuls (fasti consulares), priests (fasti sacerdotales), and triumphs (fasti triumphales). The fasti Capitolini still extant (so called because they are kept on the Capitoline Hill in the Museo dei Conservatori) were inscribed on the outer wall of the Regia, and contained in their complete form a chronological list of consuls, censors, dictators, and magistri equitum down to about 13 A.D., with a list of triumphs down to about 12 B.C., and a record of the ludi saeculares, ending with those celebrated under Domitian. Of the same nature were the libri lintei, mentioned several times by Livy, -lists of magistrates kept in the temple of Juno Moneta on the Capitoline Hill.— Finally, there were the records kept by officials of the events of their magistracies, but to what extent these were preserved and were accessible appears to be doubtful.

These were the only general and official sources of information at the disposal of the earliest writers of Roman history. To these must be added various documents, which were of great historical value for the particular occasions to which they referred; many of these, inscribed on stone or bronze, survived for centuries. Dating from the early republican period, there were, for example, the treaty with Carthage of the year 509, the treaty with the Latins of the year 493, and the first tribunician law of the same year.

The written information accessible to the early historians consisted, therefore, in a body of brief statements, in little

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more than a chronological list of magistracies, battles, etc. Moreover, meager as this record was, much of it must have perished in one way or another from time to time, and especially when Rome was occupied by the Gauls in 390. How then did the earliest historians make up a readable narrative? Evidently from two sources, oral tradition and their own imagination. The facts could be verified to a certain extent by consultation of written records, if, in an uncritical age, the writer felt the need of such verification; the details he must accept as he found them in popular legend, and sometimes, to make an interesting and consistent story, he must himself make alterations and additions. Hence, in the historians of the late republic and the empire, who, for the early period, were simply copying their predecessors, - and copying them often in an uncritical way, -it is not surprising to find confused and incredible statements.

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3. Early Roman Historians. The earliest historians of Rome wrote in Greek, because Latin had never been used for literary prose, and the possibilities of Greek for that purpose were well known to them. Their productions were called annales, a name that indicated the strict chronological sequence of the narrative. It was their custom to treat very briefly the earlier period and to discuss at greater length the events of their own time. The earliest and most famous of these was Q. Fabius Pictor, who lived during the Second Punic War, and wrote a history of Rome from Aeneas down to his own time, a work from which Livy, directly and indirectly, got much information. (See 22, 7, 4.)

The first Roman historian who wrote in Latin was M. Porcius Cato, censor in 184 B.C. He followed the custom

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