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Curtius Rufus, Quintus


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Rhetorician and historian, wrote during the 1st or early 2nd cent. ad (under Claudius remains the preferred choice). His ten-book history of Alexander the Great goes as far as the satrapy distributions at Babylon (323). The first two books (down to 333 bc) are lost (and there are substantial lacunae elsewhere), and in what remains there are no statements of biography and few on method. His work is extremely rhetorical, close in tone to the Suasoriae of Seneca the Elder; it contains many speeches of varied length and quality, and the narrative is suffused with moralizing comments and arbitrary attributions of motive. There is little consistency (after strong criticism in the body of the work the final appreciation of Alexander is pure encomium), and the exigencies of rhetoric determine the selection of source material. Consequently he switches arbitrarily from source to source and sometimes blends them into a senseless farrago. He has often been accused of deliberate fiction, but even in the speeches he used data from his regular sources and added an embroidery of rhetorical comment. He did not manufacture fact. He is by far the fullest derivative of the near-contemporary Alexander-historian Cleitarchus and preserves much that is of unique value (particularly on Macedonian custom); and he also records material common to Arrian and probably made direct use of Ptolemy I. But he very rarely names authorities and their identification in detail is hazardous. See also CURTIUS RUFUS (preceding entry).

Albert Brian Bosworth

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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