Wednesday, 29 July 2015

C. Fannius

Biography offers the easy approach to history, and some go no further than biography. To this form of writing the establishment of the monarchy and the long duration of a dynasty might have seemed not a little propitious. Yet the earlier theme in imperial Rome is not so much the Caesars as their victims. If the practice took its origin from the funeral oration, it was soon exploited by persons extraneous to the deceased, avowedly as a genre intermediate between oratory and history. A certain C. Fannius resolved to write about those whom Nero killed or banished. He composed three volumes. Then the author was vouchsafed a vision of Nero. The spectre came and sat on his bed, read the scrolls one by one, and went away. Fannius divined that it was not his destiny to write any more; and Fannius died.

Ronald Syme "Tacitus" (1958) vol 1 p92

That immaculate semicolon.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

To The Threep'ndy Tories

Indeed, crow away about stumping up your £3 and helping Jeremy Corbyn on his way to the Labour leadership.

What was that about the Opposition doesn't win elections, the Government loses them?

I give you f'rinstance John Major's Traffic Cone Hotline, Gordon Brown's... well, Gordon Brown.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Nothing New There, Then

When a despot is killed or a dynasty destroyed less is achieved than some expect. After the initial transports of newly won liberation men look around and discover that the system abides - and most of the people.

Ronald Syme "Tacitus" (1958) vol 1 p3

Bit unfair of me maybe to spring "Tacitus" (2 vols) on my readers but if you haven't read "The Roman Revolution" you have missed one of the great historical works. This is about the Republic, the civil war following Caesar's assassination and the establishment of Augustus. Politics, war and more.

His prose style is superb: precise, condensed, expressive.

Deletions made to make it clear that I am not delusional: I am well aware that I have no readers.