Historiography and Biography

Christina Shuttleworth Kraus

in The Oxford Handbook of Roman Studies

Published in print June 2010 | ISBN: 9780199211524
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History

Historiography and Biography

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Like other genres in antiquity, the various prose forms of Roman historiographical narrative had certain formal attributes and aroused certain expectations. But just as it is impossible to get a full sense of its function and meaning by considering only one side of a coin, so it is a mistake to also separate rigorously ‘historiography’ from ‘biography’. For, though ancient authors were conscious of, and sometimes indeed formulated, distinctions between historia and uita, those distinctions – like other generic and sub-generic boundaries – were more honoured in the breach (or the ‘Kreuzung’) than the observance. Through the analogy of the coin, this article explores the similarities as well as the differences in these two literary modes with which the Romans preserved their cultural memory. Comparisons are made in terms of form, content, and purpose.

Keywords: Romans; historiography; biography; form; content; purpose; historia; uita; cultural memory

Article.  7716 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical History ; Classical Literature

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