Chapter

The <i>Historia Augusta</i>

Alan Cameron

in The Last Pagans of Rome

Published in print December 2010 | ISBN: 9780199747276
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199866212 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199747276.003.0021
The Historia Augusta

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This chapter discusses the Historia Augusta (HA), a corpus of imperial biographies from Hadrian to Carinus (117–285) that purports to be the work of six different writers, all otherwise wholly unknown, all purportedly writing between ca. 305 and 325. The HA is also alleged to be a covert attack on Christianity, a product of the “pagan reaction” at Rome in or soon after 395. Not only is the HA full of errors, absurdities, and manifestly forged documents, it cites as authorities no less than thirty-five otherwise unknown and for the most part surely bogus historians and biographers. But it was not until 1889 that Dessau branded the entire work a forgery, written by a single author at the end of the 4th century.

Keywords: imperial biographies; Dessau; forgery; pagan reaction; Roman pagans; Christianity

Chapter.  21459 words. 

Subjects: Religion in the Ancient World

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