Annalists

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Annalists

 

the first ancient Roman historians to write in prose and arrange events in chronological sequence, annually (hence the title annalists). The works of the annalists were marked by a patriotic bias. They are divided into the elder (third to the first half of the second centuries B.C.), middle (second half of the second century B.C.), and younger annalists (first half of the first century B.C.); sometimes the middle and younger annalists are merged together.

The elder annalists employed fasti (the list of high magistrates), annals, family chronicles, the evidence of witnesses, and their own observations as sources, which on the whole made for the reliability of their information; they wrote primarily in Greek. The best known are Quintus Fabius Pictor (the author of the Annals, in which he gives an account of Roman history from legendary times [Aeneas] to the end of the second Punic War [201 B.C.]), L. Cincius Alimentus, M. Porcius Cato the Elder, and others. The middle annalists used the same sources as the elders but enlivened their exposition with curiosities (as, for example, L. Cassius Hemina) or attempted to provide a rational explanation of myths (L. Calpurnius Piso). The works of the younger annalists are less reliable: to be entertaining, they resorted to exaggeration, dramatic effects, and even fabrication, frequently carrying over the political and social motives of their own times into remote epochs. The younger annalists include Claudius Quadrigarius, Valerius Antias, Alius Tubero, and others. The middle and younger annalists wrote in Latin.

The works of the annalists have reached us either in small fragments or by mention of later historians—Titus Livius (Livy), Plutarch, and others. Fragments of the works of the annalists were published in Historicorum romanorum fragmenta, edited by H. Peter, Leipzig, 1883.

I. L. MAIAK

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