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Appendix

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2008

F. W. Walbank
Affiliation:
University of Liverpool
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Summary

EARLY ROMAN CHRONOLOGY

The so-called Varronian system of chronology used in this volume effectively placed the foundation of Rome in 753 B.C., the first consuls in 509 and the Gallic Sack of Rome in 390, and was largely followed by the Capitoline Fasti (p. 347). It was, however, a creation of the mid-first century B.C. (perhaps of Atticus rather than Varro) and incorporated the dictator–years, which appear to be a late invention (p. 348); it is not, therefore, representative of the chronologies employed by the Roman historians, to whom the dictator-years were foreign. Those chronologies, however, are imperfectly known since few relevant data are preserved from the lost early chroniclers of Rome and not all the surviving authorities are systematic, accurate or even internally consistent in their chronologies. Thus Livy (probably following the pattern of his Latin predecessors) is generally content to chart the passage of the years merely by recording the successive consular colleges and only occasionally employs dates ‘from the foundation of the city’ (ab urbe condita). As a result, it is very doubtful whether he worked with a clearly defined overall chronological system, particularly since his own narrative omits certain consular years (490–489 and 376 on the Varronian scheme) which his dates ‘from the foundation of the city’ seem to include and some of these latter dates themselves appear to be mutually incompatible. The most satisfactory explanation of these last inconsistencies is that Livy's dates ‘from the foundation of the city’ derive from two different schemes (presumably to be found ultimately in different sources), which placed the foundation of Rome in 751 or 750 respectively, the establishment of the Republic in 507 or 506 and the Gallic Sack in 386; but even this remains hypothetical.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1990

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