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The fictional nature of the accounts of early Roman history, particularly that of the early republic to the alleged date of the twelve tables (conventional dates 509 to 449 B.C)...rtf

The fictional nature of the accounts of early Roman history, particularly that of the early republic to the alleged date of the twelve tables (conventional dates 509 to 449 B.C)...rtf

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Published by David Bruce Gain
The History of Rome and the territory controlled by Rome for the period of the kings and the early republic (up to about 300 B.C.) is very largely fictional. This essay gives evidence, particularly from comparing the accounts of Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus up to about 450 B.C.
The History of Rome and the territory controlled by Rome for the period of the kings and the early republic (up to about 300 B.C.) is very largely fictional. This essay gives evidence, particularly from comparing the accounts of Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus up to about 450 B.C.

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Published by: David Bruce Gain on Apr 27, 2013
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The fictional nature of the accounts of early Romanhistory, particularly that of the early republic to thealleged date of the twelve tables (conventional dates 509to 449 B.C)
By David Bruce Gain.
1: Thesis.
The following account attempts to show the fictional nature of theaccounts of Roman history up to the twelve tables (conventional date 449B.C.) If any significant facts are imbedded in the accounts, they areirrecoverable. 449 B.C. has been chosen as the end date, as thecontinuous account of Dionysius of Halicarnassus (hereafter mostlyabbreviated to D) ends around then, depriving us of our principal checkon Livy (hereafter mostly L), our only continuous surviving account fromaround that point. I have mostly ignored the entirely or largelyuncheckable. Hence much more is said of the republican period(conventional start: 509 B.C.) for which exact dates are alleged, thanthe vaguely dated regal period before it, whose accounts have, in anycase, been rightly received with very considerable scepticism, ascepticism which I maintain should also be extended to the subsequentperiod in a much fuller form than it has generally had in the past.
2: Ancient authors on purveyors of fiction.
At 1.6 in his history Dionysius gives the following account of previouswriters on (1) "the early period of the Romans" (the period he proposesto treat). Greek writers "took no trouble to be accurate, but merelyrecorded a few things that chance had brought to their ears. (2) TheRomans who followed them did exactly the same when they wrote (in Greek)of the early days of the settlement. The earliest of these writers areQuintus Fabius and Lucius Cincius, who both flourished at the time ofthe wars with the Phoenicians. They both wrote, from knowledge, clearaccounts of their own times, but ran through the events after thefounding of the settlement, events long before their own time, onlysummarily".Fabius' and Cincius' dates can be given more precisely. Orosius 4.13.5and Eutropius 3.5 say Fabius fought in a battle of 225 (all dateshereafter are B.C. unless A.D. is specifically mentioned). Cincius wascaptured by Hannibal and talks of his crossing into Italy in 218(L21.38.2). It can be seen from these dates that they were born wellafter 449, so could not have known of our period from personalexperience or the experience of their contemporaries. Thus, when writingof it: "they took no trouble to be accurate, but merely recorded a fewthings that chance had brought to their ears".Further, a Claudius (probably the annalist Claudius Quadrigarius) says(quoted in indirect speech by Plutarch Numa 1) "that the ancient recordsof the settlement disappeared during the suffering under the Gauls andthat those that now exist were forged by men who wanted to win thefavour of men who wished it to be believed that they belonged to themost distinguished houses and the first families, with whom, in reality,
they had no connection". A similar statement can be found in CiceroBrutus 16.62: "These eulogies have falsified our history. Much writteninthem is fiction, fictitious triumphs, more consulships than anindividual actually had, false clan names and false reckonings of someas plebeians, since men of lower status have been falsely introducedinto unrelated clans which happen to have the same name". Livy 8.40.4-5says: "History has been falsified in funeral eulogies and with falsecaptions to portraits, from families' desire for fame from bogus deedsand positions of honour. This has infected both records of individualfamilies' deeds and also public monuments. Nor is there any othersurviving author from around this time {322} in whom we can put ourtrust".It won't do to trust a source mentioned by Cicero "On the orator"2.12.52:"So that the history of the people could be recorded, the PontifexMaximus,up to the time of the pontificate of Publius Mucius, used to record allthe doings of every year and put them on a white board and put it up infront of his house so that the people could read it". Everything in thisaccount could be true, except for the only important detail, which iscertainly false. We know that the Pontifex Maximus did not record allthedoings of every year, because Cato (234-149) tells us in the fourth bookof his Origins what the boards really contained. He says (quoted byAulusGellius 2.28.6): "I have no desire to write about the sort of thingsfoundon the board displayed by the Pontifex Maximus - how often grain isdear,how often the moon's or the sun's light is darkened".
3: Purveyors of fiction to Livy and Dionysius
Fabius and Cincius, mentioned above, purveyed fiction to Livy andDionysus.They also used later authors, principally Valerius Antias, LiciniusMacerand Gnaeus Gellius, to expand the earlier acccounts. Since these authorshad no reliable information not in them, there can be only one source oftheir expansions - free invention.
4: The census figures before 234/3 are all fictitious.YearAuthor reference and numbers allegedServius L1.44.2: 80,000; Eutropius 1.7: 83,000; D4.22.2: 84,700508 D5.20.4: about 130,000; Polybius 12.3: 130,000503 Hieronymus Olympiad 69,1: 120,000498 D5.75.3: 150,700493 D6.96.4 & 9.25.2: over 110,000474 D9.36.3: a little over 133,000465 L3.3.9: 104,714459 L3.24.10: 117,319393/2 Pliny the elder 33.16: 152,573340/39 Armenian Eusebius Ol.110,1: 160,000; Hier. Ol.110,1:165,000c.323 L9.19.2: 250,000 Plut. Fort.Rom 13: 130,000 Oros 5.22.2:
150,000293 L10.4.72: 262,321290-87 L 11: 272,000280/79 L13: 287,222276/5 L14: 271,224265/4 L16: 382,234; Eutr. 2.18: 292,234252/1 L18: 297,797247/6 L19: 241,212241/0 Hier. Ol. 134,1: 260,000; Euseb. Armen. Ol. 134,1: 250,000234/3 L20: 270,212L1.44.2 says the number for king Servius' time is of men able to beararmsand is from Fabius Pictor {who wrote around 200}. This is the purposeforwhich figures would be useful and must be the presumed basis of theotherfigures.We start with the figure 270,212 for 234/3. This is near FabiusPictor's owntime and is presumably reasonably reliable. But Rome's territory tripledbetween 293 and 264. Hence we should expect the true figure for 293 tobearound 90,000, instead of 262,321. It is clear that all the earlyfigures aregrossly inflated. They are the inventions of more than one man. We candistinguish the sources giving approximate figures (earlier stages oftheinvention) from the sources giving exact figures (later stages of theinvention). The approximations start with Fabius Pictor's grosslyinflated80,000 of Servius' time, which is inflated (by an amount consideredappropriate for the supposed growth of Rome) to 130,000 by 508. Thisfigure is also found at D6.63.4 (498) as the figure for the most recentprevious census. It seems as though D's source at this point had noknowledge of the supposed 503 and 498 censuses, and is referring to thesupposed 508 census. The 503 result of 120,000 and the 493 of 110,000seemto come from different sources from the 130,000 of 508 (why thedecrease innumbers?) and to be independent inflations of the Servian 80,000. For498(150,700) and 474 men have been at work trying to make the figures morebelievable by being more precise. The true figure for 474 seems to be133,000, not the alternative 103,000. which seems to be the result ofhaplography. (Here and afterwards, because I am confined to the lettersofthe Roman alphabet, I transcribe the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet asfollows: abgdezETiklmnxoprstyPKSO, never capitalizing any letter).triskaiwas omitted from trisKiliOntekaitriskaidekamyriadOn. The figures seem tocome from two independent sources, as the decline from the 150,700 of498to the 133,000 of 474 is unexplained (we have already seen that thesource ofD6.63.4 had no knowledge of the supposed 503 and 498 censuses).

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