CFP: Annals, Epic and Drama in Republican Rome

omnium annalium monumenta : ANNALS, EPIC AND DRAMA in Republican Rome

Call for papers – contents of previous attachment now in body of the email

Seminar to be held at the Institutum Romanum Finlandiae,

Rome, April 24–25, 2009

That the study of Roman Republican Historiography is a very dynamic field of
research is evident from the incessant and ever increasing stream of
scholarly publications pertaining to this area. Recent years have seen the
appearance of several new fragment editions of Roman Historians as well as
of numerous studies in many languages. The last few years have also
witnessed a number of international seminars dedicated to Republican
Historiography. There is no doubt that progress is constantly being made and
that the whole field benefits from frequent encounters between its major

We, the undersigned, propose to organize a seminar on historical writing in
the Roman Republic at the Finnish Institute in Rome, during two full days in
Late April. We are looking for original contributions dealing with all
aspects of republican historiography as well as with various kinds of
historical documentation and recording in the republican period. – We would
be especially interested in new insights into problems pertaining to the
following topics:

1.      Historical Documentation before Historians:
Documentary Evidence and Oral Traditions
Long before there was a literary culture in Rome writing was used for
various purposes. Epigraphically preserved documents from the Early Republic
are rare, but ancient writers provide a host of references to inscribed
texts of alleged great antiquity. To what extent did genuine written
documents survive from the early periods of Roman history? To what extent
were they used and understood by historians and antiquarians? These are
essential questions for assessing the factual underpinning of the
construction of Roman history. And what accounts for the phenomenon known as
the Expansion of the Past? The Annales Maximi still stir controversy as to
their significance for the formation of the historical traditions
encountered in Roman literature. This informs a whole range of other
discussions such as the nature of so-called antiquarian information, the
reliability of names, and the narrative of Roman expansion.– And is there
anything new to be said about the Oral Traditions pertaining to Early Rome.

2.      Histories before Historians?
Q. Fabius Pictor and other Roman senators writing their works in Greek prose
around 200 BC and shortly thereafter are usually regarded as the first
historians of Rome. Ennius, who composed his Annales in the same period, and
Naevius, who may have finished his Bellum Punicum even earlier, are assigned
to another literary tradition and another genre of literature, but is it
possible that the conventional distinction between epic history and an
allegedly more scientific prose history is, to some degree, anachronistic,
or imported from a different Greek tradition, and arbitrarily conditioning
too much the way we look at the writing of history in that period?

3.      Drama and Early Rome
We know of many plays of the third and second centuries BC set in the
historical past. The evidence we possess for this dramatic literature has
always attracted less attention than the testimonia for the lost historical
works. Does this represent an overlooked material? Can it yield new
information on how the Romans related to history and historical writing?

4.      Lawyers and Grammarians:
The Beginnings of Antiquarian Writing at Rome
Some of the earliest writing about Rome is what we might call Antiquarian
Writing, but we can also see an early interest in and attention to the
explanation of Law. Relatively little attention has been given to what we
can derive from this concern, both in terms of the nature of the society of
early Rome, and in terms of the historical information this may have contained.

5.      The Monumental Past:
Epigraphic, Artistic and Architectural Commemoration in Early Rome
As is well known, the cityscape of republican Rome was full of lieux de
mémoires and some of these reliably date to the archaic period.
Understanding the mechanisms by which Romans thought about their past
requires an understanding of their ongoing living relationship with the
city, and a broader appreciation of the individual achievements of scholars,
especially in Rome itself, to identify and contextualize this architectural

The maximum duration of the presentations – which can be delivered in
English, French, German or Italian – is set to 45 minutes. Participants will
be required to publish their contributions in the proceedings volume that
will be released by the Finnish Institute in its series Acta Instituti
Romani Finlandiae. Scholars interested to participate in the seminar are
invited to submit titles and short abstracts of their prospective talks by
Friday, February 27, 2009 to info AT

Having reviewed all submissions we reserve the right to select the
participants, the total number of which – given the time frame – cannot
exceed 16 persons. Participants travelling from locations outside Italy will
receive a contribution of 200 euros towards the expenses of travel and

Rome and St Andrews, January 7, 2009

Kaj Sandberg
Director Institutum Romanum Finlandiae
Tel. +39 0668801674
sandberg AT

Christopher J. Smith
Professor of Ancient History
University of St Andrews
Tel. +44 1334462492
cjs6 AT

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