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Unwritten Rome$
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T.P. Wiseman

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780859898225

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780859898225.001.0001

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The Prehistory of Roman Historiography

The Prehistory of Roman Historiography

(p.231) Chapter Fourteen The Prehistory of Roman Historiography
Unwritten Rome

T.P. Wiseman

Liverpool University Press

Archaeological evidence proves that Rome and Latium were familiar with Greeks and Greek culture from at least the eighth century BC. By the late fifth century Rome was of interest to Greek historians, and by the late fourth that interest was reciprocated. Various indications suggest that the main outlines of the Romans’ notion of their own past were being created in the period around 300 BC. Local sources of quasi-historical information probably included hymns and dramatic performances, which were meant to ‘teach the People’. There is also evidence that old anonymous songs (carmina) were collected and written down, perhaps as part of the great innovation of the mid-third century BC, when writing was first used at Rome to preserve the words of poets and actors. That was when the narrative of the Roman past in drama, epic and prose history became possible.

Keywords:   Archaic Rome, Greek historians, Hymns, carmina, Roman history-writing

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