Chapter

Hair, Hegemony, and Historiography: Caesar’s Style and its Earliest Critics

Christina Shuttleworth Kraus

in Aspects of the Language of Latin Prose

Published by British Academy

Published in print November 2005 | ISBN: 9780197263327
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734168 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5871/bacad/9780197263327.003.0005

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

Hair, Hegemony, and Historiography: Caesar’s Style and its Earliest Critics

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The ancient term commentarius designates works ranging from official records to collections of anecdotes to historical narrative. The ancient historiographical commentarius tended to be represented as an emperor in search of new clothes, as it were – clothing that would provide the copia, ornatus, and completeness appropriate to a work of artistic prose. The three ancient critics presented testify to the frustrations inherent in evaluating a Caesarian commentarius. Additionally, some ways in which the ancient reactions to the Commentarii are reflected in modern criticism (primarily of the Bellum Gallicum) are covered. The chapter then demonstrates that what Eden (1962:74) calls the ‘ambivalent status’ of the commentarius does fit closely with the biographical tradition concerning Caesar’s habits, dress, and demeanor; and further, suggests that same biographical tradition can be read as a complex of metaphors. Caesar’s particular brand of commentarius may be just the kind of oratio this character deserved.

Keywords: Caesar; commentaries; hair; hegemony; historiography

Chapter.  9791 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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