Bryn Mawr Classical Review 98.1.22

Martine Chassignet, L'Annalistique Romaine. Tome 1: Les Annales des Pontifes et l'Annalistique Ancienne (Fragments). Collection Budé. Pp. cxxxv + 113 (text double). Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1996.

Reviewed by Christina S. Kraus, Oriel College, Oxford OX1 4EW.

This is the first volume of a new edition of the fragments of the Roman historians. C[hassignet] has previously edited Cato's Origines for Bude (1986); her substantial introduction to this volume closely follows the layout of that earlier edition, comprising sections on the definition of annales, including discussion of the pontifical chronicle and its use by later authors; on the nature and scope of early Roman history; on the individual authors whose fragments she includes in this volume (Fabius Pictor, Cincius Alimentus, Postumius Albinus, and Gaius Acilius); on previous editions and her own selection of fragments (divergences from other major edd. are registered on pp. cv-cvi); and finally including a massive conspectus siglorum of the major MSS and editions of all the ancient testimonia. Her text and translation come equipped with the (now) standard Bude complement of two sets of notes, apparently distributed purely according to considerations of space; there is a concordance to the editions of Peter (HRR2), Jacoby (FGrH) and Frier (both his 1970 Princeton PhD thesis, Roman historiography from the Annales Maximi to Cato Censorius and his 1979 book, Libri annales pontificum maximorum), plus indices testimoniorum and nominum.

Given the minefield that is early Roman historiography -- almost everything about these texts and their authors is contested -- C.'s edition is a model of completeness, scholarship, and judgment. Her clear and well documented Introduction gives a rich history of the problems associated especially with the pontifical chronicle (xxiii-xlii), in whose existence she believes, both in the form of the tabula dealbata and of the 80-book edition cited by Servius Auctus ad Verg. Aen. 1.373. Whether or not one agrees, her discussion is lucid and sensible; though her claim (p.xxv) that 'the goal of the tabula' was to 'preserve the memory of the past-memoria rerum gestarum' is, I think, problematic. This sounds like history (as, indeed, does Servius Auctus' claim that the tablet contained those things which were digna memoratu .... domi militiaeque terra marique gesta): but the details we hear of -- records of eclipses, grain prices, and the names of magistrates -- sound more like what we now call antiquarian material. Memoria, yes, but probably not rerum gestarum. C. is fortunate not to have to deal with the material of the tabula itself (for which see now G. Bucher in AJAH 12 1987 [1995] 2-61); in her discussion of the subsequent use of these records, whatever form they may have taken, E. Rawson's 1971 piece on prodigy lists is, curiously, omitted (now in her Roman culture and society, Oxford 1991). Also -- and also strangely -- missing from the notes is G.P. Verbrugghe, 'On the meaning of Annales, on the meaning of annalist,' Philologus 122 (1989)). In general, there are few items in the notes later than 1990; it is particularly disappointing that C. was apparently unable to consult G. Forsythe's 1994 edition with commentary of the fragments of L. Calpurnius Piso.

In the case of all five 'authors,' C.'s principles are inclusive. She accepts (as Peter did not) that the Latin version of Fabius Pictor is a translation of the Greek and inclines toward the opinion that Pictor himself was the translator (p.lxi-lxii); she prints as the work of Cincius the historian several fragments usually assigned to his late-Republican homonym, the antiquarian and polygraph; and like Forsythe she accepts the Origo gentis romanae as a reliable source for the early historians. The difficulties involved in determining what counts as a 'fragment', especially with texts of this kind, of which the number of verbatim citations is pitifully small (they are listed p.xcviii n. 410), is illustrated by her handling of the pontifical chronicle (discussed pp. xcv-xcix). She has three groups, all under the rubric Annales Pontificum: information cited from the tabula dealbata (two fragments), material ascribed to the Libri Annales Maximi, and -- by far the most numerous -- material described asLibri Annales sine nomine. This last group, especially, needs to be approached with care. For example, in the case of Ann. Pont. 17C (= Flor. 1.4 (1.10) 3), I find it more likely that nisi in annalibus forent simply means 'were they not in the historical record.' So too in the case of Ann. Pont. 25C (= Flor. 1.6 (1.12) 11), laborat Annalium fides ut Veios fuisse credamus, whose inclusion C. supports with reference to Prop. 4.10.27-30 (p.72, 'meme remarque') -- but that elegy does not mention annales (or indeed any kind of history), it simply gives a version of the remark at Thuc. 1.10, viz., that it is impossible to tell the power of an ancient city from its material remains. I am, on the whole, sceptical that stories such as those related in Ann. Pont. 13C, 16C and 24C (= D.H. 4.2.1-2, Gell. 1.19.1-11, Cic. Div. I.100) could have come, except via a literary intermediary, from the Annales Maximi, as they are so clearly narrative in nature. C. touches on the narrative character of the 80-book Annales Maximi, hypothesized by Cichorius and accepted by some (p.xxxiii); though she does not explicitly endorse this theory, her choice of 'fragments' suggests that she accepts it, at least in wanting to think of a 'tradition annalistique en general' (p.xxxix). Given the exiguous nature of the tradition, it may well be better to err on the side of generosity, even if one can take issue with individual decisions -- but those using C.'s edition will need to read her Introduction with care.1

Approaching this edition as a relatively well informed but by no means expert reader, I found C.'s presentation of the fragments more accessible than Peter's; her introductory discussion and notes to individual passages, many of them formidably learned, provide helpful guidance. Inevitably, C. makes some judgments with which one can disagree, e.g. the statement that Livy probably knew earlier historians only through intermediaries (lxix, lxxxvii, xcix n.145): it is clear from Acilius 6 and 7C that Livy did use Claudius' translation of Acilius, but this does not mean that he did not read others -- or even Acilius himself -- at first hand (in agreement with C., but not cited by her, is G. Forsythe in Phoenix 44 (1990) 344, arguing that Livy didn't read Hemina). C. rightly questions the rigid division that has ascribed all of Cincius' 'non-historical' fragments to the later, homonymous antiquarian; she could profitably have cited E. Gabba in JRS 71 (1981) 60-1 on the overlap between the two traditions. In 'sober,' even senatorial history, one can find items of antiquarian or paradoxographical interest in Cassius Hemina (37P: the miraculous preservation of Numa's books), Sallust (Hist. 2.10M = 12McG: the weird qualities of poisonous 'balm'); Cato (Orig. II.9C = 39P on the enormous Gallic pigs, II.20 = 52P on jumping goats, and Paradox. Palat. 21 ed. Giannini, not in any modern edition of Cato, also on weird animals: see A. Mazzarino, Helikon xxii-xxvii (1982-87) 457-66). Similarly, she could support her decision to reinstate Cincius 2C by an appeal to other fragments which indicate that these writers had etymological interests; H. Funaioli, Grammaticae romanae fragmenta pp.6-18 includes fragments from Cato, Hemina, Postumius Albinus, and Pictor (cf. also Acilius 4C and Sallust Hist. 4.29M=25McG). In Cincius 9C, Livy's description (7.3.7) of his source as diligens talium monumentorum auctor inclines C. to think of the antiquarian rather than of the historian (p.58 n.1). Yet while diligens can certainly apply to antiquarians (so e.g. Cic. Brut. 60, of Varro), still Nepos refers to Cato's Origines as showing diligentia (Cat. 3.4; the remark may be primarily of the admiranda in the Origines and so perhaps be said as much of Cato's antiquarian as of his historical tendencies; see Horsfall ad loc.), and Cicero calls Duris of Samos homo in historia diligens (apparently without irony, as it is in a self-defence: Att. 6.1.18).

Some minutiae: I am not sure why Conway-Walters' OCT is used instead of Ogilvie's for the base text of Livy 1-5, nor why C. does not give the Skutsch line number for the Ennius quoted in Ann. Pont. 8C (= Ann.153). P.68, on Ann. Pont. 3C the long discussion of E. Bickel in Rh. Mus. 100 (1957) on L. Caesar is useful; p.73, n.1 to Ann. Pont. 28C, the Licinius Macer fragment cited is 18P. More context for the new inscription mentioning Fabius than is provided by the title of the editio princeps (Pictor 1C) would be welcome, as would its SEG number (26.1123; cf. also Gabba, cited above, p.51). P.82 n.3 on Pictor 15C, for 12P2 read 16P2; in Pictor 16C Capitolium has fallen out of the last line, as has peditum of Pictor 30bC (after fuerunt); p.59 n. 2 on Cincius 12C, for 44P2 read 45P2; Acilius 4C is now Paradox. Vat. Rohdii 39 Giannini. Finally, I am not sure what C. means (p.95, on Acilius 4C) by the 'forme annalistique' of the fragment: it has no discernibly narrative form (if that is what is meant by 'annalistic'), but that does not mean it could not form part, as Frier thought, of a geographical excursus, or indeed of a campaign narrative (it bears close resemblance to Sall. Hist. 4.26M=20McG).

C.'s decision to include more fragments than Peter, and to provide basic contextual information in the notes, means that this edition can profitably be used as a source for teaching the fragments, even on an undergraduate level-not an unimportant consideration given the truncated, and probably warped, picture we usually give students of Roman historiography. These fragmentary texts are starting to receive the attention they deserve: aside from C.'s own edition of Cato and Forsythe's of Piso, there is (e.g.) a new critical edition of Licinius Macer (ed. S. Walt, Teubner 1997), P. McGushin's 1992-4 Clarendon translation with notes of Sallust's Historiae, and a planned revision of Peter2 from a British team. This new Bude will be a distinguished member of that company.  


1. One major complaint: In citing long passages from Polybius, Dionysius, Livy, and others C. replaces the standard section numbers with her own, an exceedingly confusing process; indeed, since these passages are without exception paraphrases of the early historians rather than verbatim quotations, it is pointless and misleading to change the section numbers.