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20 - The literature of the Empire

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2008

G. W. Bowersock
Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton)
D. C. Innes
St. Hilda's College, Oxford
E. L. Bowie
Corpus Christi College, Oxford
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After the defeat of Antony at Actium in 31 B.C. and the fall of Alexandria in the next year, the eastern and western parts of the Roman empire quickly recovered from the divisiveness of Rome's civil war; and with the encouragement of the heir of Caesar, soon to be named Augustus, the Graeco-Roman culture of the Mediterranean world renewed itself. Several of the major Greek writers of the Augustan age made their way to Rome in the year 30 B.C. or just a little later.

The geographer Strabo came to Rome in 29 B.C. But Strabo had been there before. Already before the murder of Caesar he had left his native Asia Minor to visit Rome; and for him, as for other Augustan Greek men of letters, Romans were to become the principal patrons. He went to Egypt in the company of the prefect Aelius Gallus, and many years later it was the emperor Tiberius whose accession impelled Strabo, for reasons still obscure, to a new burst of activity. Although Strabo boasts at one point that he has travelled widely, from the Black Sea to Ethiopia and from Armenia to Etruria, it appears that he did little more than get from one place to another without inspecting much on the way. He reveals that he stopped at the island of Gyarus off the coast of Greece, but he seems never to have set foot in Athens. Strabo was a scholar at heart, and he worked from books.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1985

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