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Roman Historiography Essay Sample

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Roman Historiography Essay Sample

Roman historiography and its form originated from the Greeks during the time of invasion, however, historians depicting Roman history has modified it and changed it into something unique to Roman culture and lifestyle. Specific characteristics are its allegiance to the Roman state and its moral ideals; the historians’ factions as revealed to how each “story” begins, flows and ends; its evolution into different forms of presentation – the annalistic and monographic traditions; and the practice of rewriting history to suit the author’s intentions.

The annals portray history in its time, chronological, or year-by-year arrangement, forming a sense of narration of the significant events that transpired in the author’s choice of time frame. On the other hand, monographs are comprehensive works on a single subject or topic, much like the history books of the modern times; and one of the famous authors who used this form is C. Sallustius Crispus, Roman historian of the first century BC. More commonly known as Sallust, and a historian more appropriately described as an artist and a politician because of his frequent use of exaggerated details and his biased interest of historic characters over the events in favor of the Romans, he was known to be largely responsible for shaping the contemporary Roman image in the late republic, as shown in his famous works – Bellum Catilinae, Bellum Jugurthinum and the Historiae.

Years after him, however, Polybius, a prominent Greek and a Roman captive, recorded Roman history in an attempt to convince the Greeks of the exceeding Roman power and its inevitable success of domination through the Tactics, which detailed Roman and Greek military tactics, and The Histories, where he concluded that the mixed nature of the Roman constitution contributed much to their success as a government. The context in which the “writing” of the history took place reveals a lot of the differences in the forms used, the intent communicated by the authors, and what actually happened in the past. In search for truth and meaning, contemporary historians must always remember that historical events are like puzzle pieces; they rely on their edges to be formed.

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