Sunday, October 12, 2014
Here's Some REAL Info About Ancient Historians
Michael Paulkovich will no doubt have many objections to the following. Besides it being obvious that I am a part of The Plot, I am referring to a book of history which is several decades out date; even Cambridge agreed that it was, and so published a completely overhauled edition
between 1970 and 2005. The first edition was published between 1924 and 1939, and I'm referring to vol X of that edition, first published in 1934: The Augustan Empire, 44BC -- AD70, pages 866 through 876, the section entitled Appendix: The Literary Authorities For Roman History. My copy is from the 4th corrected printing, from 1966. The thing is, although this volume is out of date, all 126 of Paulkovich's authors were well-known to historians in 1934, and the texts by those authors recovered since the 1930's might add up altogether to a page or so of fine print. Maybe. (A page of fine print suspiciously lacking any mention of Jesus.)
A more detailed list of sources, both ancient and modern, including things like inscriptions and coins, is provided on pages 893 through 993. What we've got on pages 866-876 is a discussion of the ancient Latin and Greek writers who could reasonably be called historians, plus a few others who help to round out our picture, who wrote about the Roman Empire between 44BC, when Julius Caesar was killed, to AD70, when the Jewish Rebellion was crushed and the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed.
This Appendix, unlike Paulkovich's attempt to cover some similar ground, is very helpfully divided into non-existent sources and existing sources. Whoever wrote the Appendix, S A Cook, F E Adcock, M P Charlesworth or some combination of the three (they edited vol X), gives an account of how much influence each non-existent source -- each source which we know was written, but which has disappeared the past 2000 years so that we can't read it today -- may be expected to have had upon the existing sources, the stuff we can read (cause it exists).
For example, it is noted that the now-vanished History of Asinius Polllio was a major source for Appian's work.
For example, books 116-142 of Livy's history, which cover the period 44-9BC, are gone, but there are several condensed versions of those books made by others which are available to us. Condensed to around 1/100 of the length of the original, for example, in the case of the
periochae. Note also, that Livy is of course an existing source in that a great deal of his work survives, but a non-existent source for the period 44BC -- 70AD.
For example, the author or authors of the Appendix give the opinion that we cannot know much more for certain about the historians Aufidius Bassius and M Servilius Nonianus than their names and that they wrote histories covering parts of the period.
So: the non-existent historians writing in Latin listed here for the history of the Roman Empire from 44BC -- 70AD, mentioned because of their possible, likely or certain influence on the existing sources, are, in Latin, Asinius Polllio, Livy, Aufidius Bassius, M Servilius Nonianus, A Cremutius Cordus, Cluvius Rufus, Fabius Rusticus, Pliny the Elder, Bruttedius Niger, Cn Cornelius Lentulus Gaetulicus, Seneca the Elder, Julius Secundus, Pompeius Planta and Tib Claudius Balbillus. Then there are listed some non-historians who may have contributed to the works of historians existent or non-. Then come three historians writing about the period in Greek whose work is missing, Nicolaus, Timagenes and Phlegon.
On to those who wrote about the period whose work we can read: in Latin, Cicero, Augustus, Velleius Paterculus, Valerius Maximus, Tacitus, Suetonius; then some who condensed the work of others centuries later: Florus, Eutropius, Aurelius Victor and Orosius. Then technical works by Vitruvius (a delightful writer)
on architecture, by Frontinus on aequaducts and military strategy and by Vegetius (4th century) on military matters in general.
There remains in the Appendix a discussion of 5 illustrious Greek authors whose work has to do with the Empire from 44BC -- AD 70, Strabo, Philo, Josephus, Plutarch and Dio Cassius, plus a few more who lived and wrote between the 6th and 11th centuries.
No doubt some of you have been snorting contemptuously for some time now and saying, "You think yr so damn smart?! All you did was summarize a dozen pages from a dang book!"
Yr darn tootin that's all I did! And the reason why that's all I did was to give you an idea of how easy it is, if you know where to look, to get a general idea of the written sources available to us -- before we get to things like the New Testament and the Dead Sea Scrolls and Oxyrhynchus and Fayim and Nag Hammadi and inscriptions (words carved into stone) and coins and so forth -- which cover the history of the Roman Empire from 44BC -- AD70. That's the entire Empire over the course of 114 years, an era which is covered much more minutely by surviving sources than many another ancient epoch before and after. 114 years for an area reaching from England to the Red Sea, not just 33 years in an area about 1/10th the size of Wyoming, an area which interested most of the writers mentioned above about as much as Wyoming interests most of the writers on the east and west coasts today.