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date: 31 January 2023

biography, Romanlocked

biography, Romanlocked

  • Christopher Pelling


Roman biography did not wholly derive from its Greek equivalent: their own political and family customs led Romans to value the recording of the deeds of their great men. We hear of songs at banquets praising the famous, of dirges (*nenia) at funerals, and of a native tradition of funeral laudations (*laudatio funebris). Such laudations were preserved and kept among the family records, together with the likenesses (*imagines) of distinguished ancestors: Cicero (Marcus Tullius) (Brut.62) complains about the inaccuracies of these laudations. Sepulchral inscriptions were important too, and became very elaborate, often giving details of private as well as public matters (cf. the ‘laudations’ of Murdia and Turia, CIL 6. 2. 10230 and 1527, 31670, see *‘Laudatio Turiae’). The flavour of such formal memorials is as recurrent in Roman biography as that of encomium in the Greek counterpart; it is, for instance, one of the elements detectable in *Tacitus (1)'s Agricola.


  • Latin Literature

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