Chapter

An Anatomy of Make-Believe

Holly Haynes

in The History of Make-Believe

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2003 | ISBN: 9780520236509
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520929555 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520236509.003.0002
An Anatomy of Make-Believe

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This chapter introduces the main themes of this book through analysis of passages from the Histories and other parts of the Tacitean corpus. Each passage illustrates a facet of the relationship between Roman beliefs about reality during the early Empire and Tacitus's representation of those beliefs. The thesis is that Tacitus unifies the style and content of his historiography in order to produce in the reader the experience of believing and understanding as the actors in the text do. History for Tacitus is what the agents and patients of past events believed it to be; where he is paradoxical or confusing, he reproduces paradoxes and confusion within the ideology of the period. Because he draws attention to reality as neither subjective nor objective, Tacitus's merging of style and content illustrates an ideological process that in his parlance consists of “making things up and believing them,” where the subjective styling of reality is coterminous with the objective interpretation of it. Tacitus uses the verbal pair fingere and credere at strategic points in his narrative to illustrate this process.

Keywords: Histories; Tacitus; Roman beliefs; reality; historiography; history; fingere; credere

Chapter.  14262 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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