Clio is Muse of history, her 'cosmetics' the adornments of rhetoric. Peter Wiseman's influential book, first published in 1979 and now for the first time in paperback, concerns the writing of history during the first century BCE, when Rome was in process of becoming the centre of the Greek, as much as her own, literary world. Historians, trained in the schools of rhetoric, prized elegant plausibility above the empirical objectivity we expect of them today. Legend and history intermingled; history and poetry overlapped.This study divides into three distinct parts. The first treats the problems that arise from reading first century history as if it were written by modern, non-rhetorical standards. The second examines the pseudo-history of the gens Claudia, fabricated during the first century and transmitted to us by Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus. The third discusses Catullus' dedication of his poetry to the historian Cornelius Nepos against the background of the two authors' common intellectual heritage. The book represents a significant contribution towards an appreciation of ancient historiography and Roman culture. History is viewed here as rhetoric, as myth-making, and as poetry.
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