Although Dio Cassius had already written the definitive history of his age, Herodian, a native of Syria, and a minor
civil servant in Rome, undertook to write, from a somewhat limited personal experience, supplemented by
reference to standard authorities, a moralizing account of the downward spiral of the empire. He recognizes,
acutely for his time, that the death of Marcus Aurelius was the end of an era in Rome's history and he is chiefly
concerned to show his readers the corruption that followed upon it.
In his literary style Herodian is very much the product of his age: rhetorical, pompous, repetitive, derivative. Yet,
unlike other imperial biographists, he makes no observations on the sexual experiments of the emperors, but
chooses to ignore them. Perhaps, as Mr. Echols suggests in his introduction, the explanation for this singular
omission is that Herodian, himself a Syrian, is reluctant to reveal the more notorious activities of the Syrian
emperors. He is a sincere moralizer with a thoroughly patriotic Roman outlook.
I AM grateful to Dr. Linton C. Stevens, Professor of Romance Languages in the University of Alabama, for helpful criticism in regard to style and clarity. I have also to thank Professor Mason Hammond of Harvard University for his encouragement. And I wish to express my appreciation to Miss Genevieve Rogers, of the University of
The successful completion of this work owes much to the generous and sustained support of the University
Research Committee of the University of Alabama. Grants-in-aid enabled me to give full time to the work of
translation during two summers, and, even more important, made it possible for me to have access to a library
with facilities adequate for the specialized requirements of this project.
\u2014the traditional myths, uncritically accepted, and the local annalistic records, uncritically evaluated. By the
beginning of the Hellenistic period, Greek historiography included every form of historical writing: the discursive,
rambling accounts deriving from Herodotus; the objective, scientific, and highly literate histories in the manner of
Thucydides; partisan histories designed as propaganda; and historical biographies. Men of action described their
personal exploits, and histories written to entertain or shock foreshadowed historical fiction. By the end of the
fourth century B.C., history was a legitimate and accepted field of literary inquiry.
The early Roman historians were Greeks. The intent of these writers was to interpret for the Greek-reading world the phenomenon of Rome's rise to a position of dominance in the Mediterranean world. Greatest of these pioneer Graeco-Roman historians was the soldier-statesman-author Polybius
These pragmatic histories, describing in detail short periods of time, were soon replaced at Rome by the annalistic
reconstruction of Rome's early history; the formulation of an annalistic tradition was necessitated by the growth of
nationalism resulting from Rome's increasing importance in the Mediterranean world. Once the native Roman
historiography was firmly established, it soon embraced all the extant historico-literary forms; by the Augustan
The Graeco-Roman historians continued to write after the field was dominated by the Latin historians. Before the last century of the Republic, the great Stoic philosopher-historian, Posidonius of Apamaea, wrote a continuation of Polybius' Universal History covering the period from 144 B.C. to the dictatorship of Sulla. Posidonius, who had visited Rome and had been the teacher of many distinguished Romans at Rhodes, profoundly affected the literary
The growing importance of the individual in the empire raised historical biography to a position of major
importance. In the first century B.C., Cornelius Nepos wrote his De Viris Illustribus, a series of comparative
biographies of Greeks and Romans. Plutarch (ca. A.D. 46-post 120) continued this literary form in a lengthy series
of biographies comparing ancient and contemporary figures. Balancing these "antiquarian" biographies are the
imperial biographies of Suetonius (A.D. 69-ca. 140), in which he described the empire in terms of its chief
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