Livy s use of the annalists
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Livy’s Use of the Annalists. By Matthew Ferguson. The Annalistic Tradition. Early Roman Annalists in Greek Fabius Pictor Lucius Cincius Alimentus Aulus Postumius Albinus Caius Acilius Latin Annalists of the Second Century Lucius Cassius Hemina Lucius Calpurnius Piso Sempronius Tuditanus

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Livy s use of the annalists

Livy’s Use of the Annalists

By Matthew Ferguson

The annalistic tradition
The Annalistic Tradition

Early Roman Annalists in Greek

  • Fabius Pictor

  • Lucius Cincius Alimentus

  • Aulus Postumius Albinus

  • Caius Acilius

    Latin Annalists of the Second Century

  • Lucius Cassius Hemina

  • Lucius Calpurnius Piso

  • Sempronius Tuditanus

  • Cnaeus Gellius

    Annalist of the First Century

  • Quintus Claudius Quadrigarius

  • Valerius Antias

  • Licinius Macer

Not annalists
Not Annalists

  • Cato the Elder

  • Sempronius Asellio

  • Lucius Cornelius Sisenna

  • Sallust

Also annalists
Also Annalists?

  • Cnaeus Naevius

  • Ennius

  • Marcus Pacuvius

  • Lucius Accius

Liber i
Liber I

  • itaque Pometinae manubiae, quae perducendo ad culmen operi destinatae erant, vix in fundamenta suppeditavere. eo magis Fabio, praeterquam quod antiquior est, crediderim quadraginta ea sola talenta fuisse, quam Pisoni, qui quadraginta milia pondo argenti seposita in eam rem scribit, summam pecuniae neque ex unius tum urbis praeda sperandam et nullius ne horum quidem operum fundamenta non exsuperaturam. (Liv. 1. 55.8)

  • And thus the spoils of Pometina, which were set aside for conducting the completion of the work, scarcely provided for the foundations. Concerning this I am inclined to trust Fabius more, moreover since he is the older authority, that this alone was 40 talents, rather than Piso, who writes that 40,000 by weight of silver was set aside for this matter – a sum of money not then to be hoped for from the spoils of one city, and likely to exceed the foundations of even one of these works.

Liber i1
Liber I

  • censu perfecto, quem maturaverat metu legis de incensis latae cum vinculorum minis mortisque, edixit, ut omnes cives Romani, equites peditesque, in suis quisque centuriis in campo Martio prima luce adessent. ibi instructum exercitum omnem suovetaurilibus lustravit; idque conditum lustrum appellatum, quia is censendo finis factus est. milia octoginta eo lustro civium censa dicuntur; adicit scriptorum antiquissimus Fabius Pictor eorum qui arma ferre possent eum numerum fuisse. (Liv. 1.44.1-2)

  • With the census completed, which he had hastened by fear of a passed law with threats of imprisonment and death concerning people not registered, he declared that all Roman citizens, knights and infantry, each in their own century, should be present at first light in the field of Mars. Then he purified the whole drawn up army with the sacrifice of a swine, sheep, and bull; and this was called a closed lustration because the end was made for taking census. By this lustration 80,000 are said to have been assessed of the citizens; Fabius Pictor the oldest of our historians states that this was the number which was able to bear arms.

Dionysius of halicarnassus
Dionysius of Halicarnassus

  • Καὶαὐτὴν, ὡς μὲνΦάβιός τεκαὶΚίγκιος γράφουσιν, ἔρως εἰσέρχεταιτῶνψελλίων, ἃπερὶτοῖς ἀριστεροῖς βραχίοσινἐφόρουν, καὶτῶνδακτυλίωνχρυσοφόροιγὰρἦσανοἱΣαβῖνοιτότεκαὶΤυρρηνῶνοὐχἧττονἁβροδίαιτοιὡς δὲΠείσωνΛεύκιος ὁτιμητικὸς ἱστορεῖ, καλοῦπράγματος ἐπιθυμίαγυμνοὺς τῶνσκεπαστηρίωνὅπλωνπαραδοῦναιτοῖς πολίταις τοὺς πολεμίους. (Dion. Hal. 2.38.3)

  • And, as both Fabius and Cincius write, desire for the bracelets and rings, which they wore on their left arms, entered her; for the Sabines were wearing gold then and were not less extravagant than the Etruscans; but as Lucius Piso, the former censor, narrates, the desire was for a noble deed, namely that she might hand over the enemy stripped of their defensive arms.

Liber i2
Liber I

  • additur fabula, quod vulgo Sabini aureas armillas magni ponderis bracchio laevo gemmatosque magna specie anulos habuerint, pepigisse eam quod in sinistris manibus haberent; eo scuta illi pro aureis donis congesta. sunt qui eam ex pacto tradendi quod in sinistris manibus esset derecto arma petisse dicant, et fraude visam agere, sua ipsam peremptam mercede. (Liv. 1.11.8-9)

  • The story is added that because the Sabines commonly wore golden bracelets of great weight on their left arm and jeweled rings, they promised her what they held in their left hands; from this their shields were heaped upon her in place of the golden gifts. There are those who say that from the agreement of handing over what was in their left hands she was straightly seeking their weapons, and seeming to act fraudulently, she herself was killed by her own bribe.

Calpurnius piso
Calpurnius Piso

(Told Through Aulus Gellius in Noctes Atticae)

  • figuram novam hercle repperi apud Pisonem in secundo annalium. Verba Pisonis haec sunt: "L. Tarquinium, collegam suum, quia Tarquinio nomine esset, metuere; eumque orat, uti sua voluntate Roma concedat." (Gell. 15.29)

  • By Hercules I have found an odd figure of speech used by Piso in the second book of his annals. Piso’s words are: ‘They feared Lucius Tarquinius, his colleague, because he possessed the Tarqiun name; and he asked him to depart from Rome by his own accord.’

Liber ii
Liber II

  • “hunc tu,” inquit, “tua voluntate, L. Tarquini, remove metum. meminimus, fatemur, eiecisti reges; absolve beneficium tuum, aufer hinc regium nomen. res tuas tibi non solum reddent cives tui auctore me, sed, si quid deest, munifice augebunt.amicus abi” (Liv. 2.2.7)

  • “You, Lucius Tarquin,” he said, “remove this fear by your own accord. We remember, I confess, you expelled the kings; discharge your service, bear away from here the name of the kings. The citizens by my order will not only respect your property, but will provide graciously what is needed. Depart, a friend.”

Calpurnius piso1
Calpurnius Piso

(Told through Aulus Gellius in Noctes Atticae)

  • Simplicissima suavitate et rei et orationis L. Piso Frugi usus est in primo annali, cum de Romuli regis vita atque victu scriberet. Ea verba, quae scripsit, haec sunt: "Eundem Romulum dicunt ad cenam vocatum ibi non multum bibisse, quia postridie negotium haberet. Ei dicunt: "Romule, si istuc omnes homines faciant, vinum vilius sit". His respondit: "immo vero carum, si, quantum quisque volet, bibat; nam ego bibi quantum volui" (Gell. 11.14.1-2)

  • Lucius Piso Frugi, when he writes about the life and manners of king Romulus, has used a most natural elegance of both concept and diction in the first book of his annals. These are the words that he has written: ‘they also say that Romulus when summoned to dinner would then not drink much, claiming he had work the next day. They said, “Romulus, if all men should act like that, wine would be cheaper.” He answered them, “Nay rather, expensive, if each should drink how much he wants; for I drank as much as a I desired.”

Livy s use of the annalists

Valerius Antias

(Told through Arnobius of Sicca in Adversus Gentes)

  • Numam illum regem, cum procurandi fulminis scientiam non haberet, essetque illi cupido nonscendi, Egeriae monitu castos duodecim iuvenes apud aquam celasse cum vinculis…(Arnob. 5.1)

  • The famous king Numa, when he did not have knowledge of dealing with lighting, and there was desire to him for learning, by the advice of Egeria concealed twelve innocent youths next to a fountain with chains…

Liber i3
Liber I

  • lucus erat, quem medium ex opaco specu fons perenni rigabat aqua. quo quia persaepe Numa sine arbitris velut ad congressum deae inferebat, Camenis eum lucum sacravit, quod earum ibi concilia cum coniuge sua Egeria essent.” (Liv. 1.21.3).

  • There was a grove, through the middle of which a fountain was flowing with perpetual water from a dark cave. Because Numa would often enter here without witnesses as if to meet with the goddess, he sanctified this grove for the Camenae, because (as he said) their meetings were there with his wife Egeria.”

Liber xxxx
Liber XXXX

  • Adicit Antias Valerius Pythagoricos fuisse, volgatae opinioni, qua creditur Pythagorae auditorem fuisse Numam, mendacio probabili accommodata fide. (Liv. 40.29)

  • Valerius Antias claims that there were Pythagorean books, to the vulgar opinion, in which it is believed that Numa was a disciple of Pythagoras, thus applying probable credit to the fiction.

For further reading
For Further Reading


Becker, G. 2008. “Form, Intent, and the Fragmentary Roman Historians 240 to 63 B.C.E.” PhD diss. University of Florida.

Bispham, E. 2007. “Literary Sources” in N. Rosenstein and R. Morstein-Marx. eds. A Companion to the Roman Republic. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Dittman, M. 1935. “The Development of Historiography among the Romans.”The Classical Journal 30: 287-296.

Forsythe, G. 1990. “Some Notes on the History of Cassius Hemina.”Phoenix 44: 326-344

--. 1994. The Historian L.Calpurnius Piso Frugi and the Roman Annalistic Tradition. Lanham: University Press of America.

Howard, A. 1906. “Valerius Antias and Livy.”Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 17: 161-182.

Laroche, R. 1977. “Valerius Antias and His Numerical Totals: A Reappraisal.”Historia 26: 358-368

Mellor, R. 1999. The Roman Historians. London: Routledge.

Oglivie, R. M. 1958.“Livy, Licinius Macer and the Libri Lintei.” The Journal of Roman Studies 48: 40-46

Peter, H. 1883. Historicorum Romanorum Fragmenta. Leipzig: Teubner.

Rich, J. 2005. “Valerius Antias and the Construction of the Roman Past.”Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 48: 137–161.

Verbruggh, G. 1981. “Fabius Pictor's ‘Romulus and Remus.’” Historia 30: 236-238.

Wiseman, T.P. 1981. “Practice and Theory in Roman Historiography.”History 66: 375-393.