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The chapter analyses Cato the Elder as the ‘inventor’ of a novel ethos of principled thrift and pride in peasant parsimony in response to the massive and unprecedented influx of war spoils and other riches into Rome in the first half of the second century BCE. It explores how Cato turned aspects of prudent and parsimonious husbandry as allegedly practiced by earlier generations of Roman peasants into a normative benchmark for all Romans, and in particular members of the senatorial elite and endowed his vision with authoritative and exemplary force by projecting it back into the past. The argument then shifts to resistance to this reconfiguration of material moderation as an ancestral ideal and concludes with a look at the self-promotion of Scipio Aemilianus, who aligns himself in some respects with the Catonian persona but distances himself from it in others, not least in his explicit if partial embrace of Greek culture – or rather those aspects of Greek culture that could be presented as compatible with Roman tradition.
This paper outlines some of the historiographical tools and perspectives the Annals may have received from Livius Andronicus’ Odyssey and Naevius’ Punic War. The topics of allegory and authority structure the discussion. Section 1 explores the Annals’ construction of the past in relation to that of its Latin epic predecessors, particularly their use of allegory in the representation of history. Section 2 argues that Ennius’ unique blend of auctoritas is an expansion of Naevius’ simultaneous evocation of Hellenic historiographical authority of first-hand experience (theōria, empeiria, autoptēs) and divine inspiration from the Muses. The analysis here brings Cato’s Origins into dialogue with the authorizing techniques that are central to the historiographical personae of Rome’s first epicists. I conclude by suggesting that the genealogies outlined in Sections 1 and 2 explain the generic hybridity of Ennius’ res atque poemata.
This paper investigates the largely inaccessible ancient audiences of early Roman epic and historiography, using points of intersection in our evidence for Ennius’ Annals and Cato’s Origins to consider each work’s audience in relation to the other’s. My means of approach are two. First, I explore differences in how Cicero responds to each of those works, with glances across to his surviving responses to Fabius Pictor’s history of Rome, finding that Cicero frequently cites the Annals to illustrate the forging and articulation of Roman ethical identity at exemplary moments in the past, but neither he nor any other source cites Cato or Fabius for any such purpose. Second, I consider the distribution of collectives across the surviving fragments of both works. Terms for the Roman collective are relatively abundant in Ennius’ Annals, and that collective is featured in heroic action, but in the Origins the Roman collective is much less obtrusive than might have been expected in a work notorious for suppressing the names of more recent historical leaders. The two findings suggest that it was the Annals that had the broader appeal, the readier ability to speak to and for Romans across the board.
Prose literature, as opposed to mere writing, may be said to have begun when men began to exploit the fact that their views on important matters could be disseminated by means of the liber or uolumen which could be multiplied. The intended readers of the kind of technical works reviewed in this chapter were influential Romans professionally interested in the subjects treated. The chapter discusses some kinds of writing which are best described as political manifestos or memoirs. In the Greek world it had long been the custom of authors to address poems, histories, and technical works to a patron or friend, so that the work might take on the appearance of a private letter of didactic character. By using Latin in his own pithy way, M. Porcius Cato the Elder was asserting the new importance of the language in international diplomacy, and implicitly rejecting the attitude and the Greek rhetoric of a T. Quinctius Flamininus.
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