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.


x said...

Must go back in time to find more despots. Still stuck on my hero Vlad the Impaler.

PS Clicked on that. £198.79 new???? Anything over 99p Offends my religious principles.

Chertiozhnik said...

Well, there's always "The Roman Revolution" 2nd hand on Amazon at less than a tenner (some pages stuck together no doubt, it's that good). Or "Peppa Pig Goes on Holiday" for 60p (somewhat foxed).