Ettore Pais


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Pais, Ettore

 

Born July 27, 1856, in Borgo San Dalmazzo, Cuneo; died Mar. 28, 1939, in Rome. Italian historian of antiquity.

A pupil of T. Mommsen, Pais was professor of ancient history at the universities of Palermo (1886–89), Pisa (until 1899), Naples (until 1904), and Rome (until 1931). At the end of the 1890’s he denied the authenticity of the ancient tradition about Rome and of the periods of Roman history before the third century B.C., that is, the monarchy and the early republic. Pais asserted that the Romans had no true historical traditions or tribal chronicles and that early Roman tradition was formed under the influence of Greek historical tales and of Roman drama. Believing that ancient authors had transferred contemporary events to the distant past, he maintained that early Roman institutions are known to us through sources dating from no earlier than the first century B.C. Our knowledge of monarchs and of certain political figures of early Rome, according to Pais, results from the merging of actual history with myths about individual deities. For example, the tale of Coriolanus is an altered form of the myth about the god Mars.

WORKS

Storia critica di Roma durante i primi cinque secoli, vols. 1–5. Rome, 1913–20.
Storia di Roma dall’eta regia sino alle vittorie su Taranto e Pirro. Turin, 1934.
Storia di Roma durante le guerre puniche, vols. 1–2. Turin, 1935.