‘memoranda’, were often private or businesslike, e.g. accounts, notebooks for speeches, legal notes, or teaching materials. Their public use developed in the priestly colleges (e.g. pontifices), and with magistrates (consuls, censors, aediles) and provincial governors. They apparently recorded decisions and other material relevant for future consultation: this could amount to a manual of protocol. Under the empire the ‘imperial memoranda’ provided an archive of official constitutions, rescripts, etc: entering a decision in the commentarii conferred its legal authority.
In the late republic a more literary usage developed, ‘memoir’ rather than ‘memoranda’. Various records, handbooks, and other learned works were so described, but esp. autobiographies: thus perhaps the work of Sulla, more certainly Cicero's accounts of his consulship and above all Caesar's commentarii. Such works favoured a plain style, ostensibly concentrating on content rather than the more obvious forms of rhetoric: they might purport to provide raw material for others to work up, but that pretence was sometimes thin.
Subjects: Classical Studies.