Modestov, Vasilii Ivanovich

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Modestov, Vasilii Ivanovich


Born Jan. 24 (Feb. 5), 1839, in Valdai District, Novgorod Province; died Feb. 13 (26), 1907, in Rome. Russian historian and philologist; specialist in the study of antiquity.

A graduate of the faculty of history and philology at the University of St. Petersburg in 1860, Modestov attained the degree of doctor of Roman philology and was appointed a professor in 1868. He taught at Novorossiia University in Odessa (1865–67 and 1889–93), the University of Kazan (1867–68), the University of Kiev (1869–78), and the University of St. Petersburg (1886–89).

Among Modestov’s works on the history of Roman literature, The Roman Writing System in the Period of the Caesars (1868) is of particular interest: the author refutes skeptical tendencies in the historiography of ancient Rome, proving that the Latin writing system extends as far back as the pre-Roman era. Also outstanding are his monograph on Tacitus (Tacitus and His Writings: Historical and Literary Research, 1864) and his complete translation of the works of Tacitus (vols. 1–2, 1886–87).

After 1893, Modestov resided in Rome and studied Italian archaeology. In his Introduction to Roman History (parts 1–2, 1902–09), he presented a systematic history of ancient Italy based on a study of the remains of the country’s material culture, as well as on linguistic and traditional historical data. A brilliant publicist, he wrote a number of works on the late-19th-century history of Germany, France, and Italy.


Lektsii po istorii rimskoi literatury. St. Petersburg, 1888.


Anuchin, D. N. “Trud prof. V. I. Modestova ’Vvedenie v rimskuiu istoriiu.’;” Drevnosti: Trudy imp. arkheologicheskogo ob-va, 1909, vol. 22, issue 2.
Buzeskul, V. P. Vseobshchaia istoriia i ee predstaviteli v Rossii v 19 i nachale 20 v., part 1. Leningrad, 1929.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.