Valerius Antias

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Livy (59—17 bc) Roman historian

Dionysius of Halicarnassus (fl. 30—7 bc)



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Roman historian of the 1st cent. bc. His work, known only through quotations and allusions in later authors, covered the history of Rome from the origins down to 91 bc at least. The reign of Pompilius Numa was treated in book 2, and the Hostilius Mancinus affair (136 bc) in book 22. Since the whole occupied at least 75 books, the scale of the narrative must have increased as it reached the author's own times. For earlier periods Antias' treatment was far less expansive than that of Livy or Dionysius of Halicarnassus. Livy mentions him frequently, but usually to disagree with him on points of detail and to criticize his tendency to exaggerate numbers (e.g. of battle casualties). He may nevertheless have been one of Livy's main sources, although the evidence for this is not conclusive. In general the character of his work is hard to judge, and he remains a little-known figure. His first name is not recorded, and scholars disagree on the date at which he was writing. Most experts place him in the age of Sulla (following Velleius 2. 9. 6), but others date him to the 40s bc on the grounds that he is nowhere mentioned by Cicero—not necessarily a strong argument. Most modern attempts to characterize Antias and his work are founded on a priori conjectures and inferences from passages of Livy that are assumed to be based on him. The resulting theories, about his social standing, his rhetorical aims, his glorification of the Valerian clan, his chauvinism, and his conservative political bias, are all based on circular reasoning and have no secure foundation in the evidence.

Tim J. Cornell

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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