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date: 04 December 2020

annals and annalistslocked

  • Tim Cornell


The Latin word annales (‘yearbooks’, ‘annals’) became the standard term for historical records in a general sense, and was frequently used by historians as a title for their works, probably in imitation of the *annales maximi. The first Latin writer to call his work ‘Annals’ was *Ennius, which proves that already in his time the term could be applied to any kind of historical work, even if, like Ennius' poem, it was not in the form of a year-by-year chronicle. Whether the earliest Roman historians, who wrote in Greek, adopted a year-by-year arrangement is disputed; the fact that later writers refer to (e.g.) Q. *Fabius Pictor's history as ‘Greek annals’ (Graeci annales: Cic. Div. 1. 43) is hardly decisive. Pliny (HN 8. 11) even calls the work of *Cato (Censorius)annales, even though Cato did not use the chronicle form, ridiculed the annales maximi (4.

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