Numerous scholars have pointed out real or alleged parallels and borrowings from earlier Latin authors in the Res Gestae of Ammianus Marcellinus. None have examined the extent of his knowledge of the authors in question nor the use which he made of their works. This dissertation attempts to do these things.
Ammianus' use of Republican Latin poetry is limited. He knew Ennius and Lucilius only through citations in Cicero. Plautus and Terence appear to be used only in books 14-19; almost all of the allusions to them are found in negative characterizations. There is no evidence that Ammianus knew or used Lucretius.
Ammianus makes much greater use of prose authors of the Republic, but this also is limited to a few of them. He does not seem to know any of the major works of Cato the Elder, but does quote several witty sayings which he attributes to him. The major historians of the Republic had a much greater influence on Ammianus. Ammianus draws heavily on Caesar for material on Gaul. He may also have used the Bellum Gallicum as a structural model for the portion of the Res Gestae which deals with Julian's activities in Gaul. There seems to be an implied comparison of Julian to Caesar there and in the account of the Persian campaign. Ammianus made extensive use of Sallust. He shows the influence of Sallust in his historiographical principles and his moralizing tendencies. The most important influence of Sallust is stylistic. Ammianus often borrows phrases from him, especially in the case of geographical digressions and descriptions of military operations.
Cicero had a greater impact than any other author on Ammianus. Much of this influence is stylistic, but Cicero also had a powerful effect on Ammianus' moral and political views. Ammianus considered Cicero to be the prime source of moral and political auctoritas. Despite the vastly changed circumstances of his own day, Ammianus judged his contemporaries and their actions by Ciceronian criteria. This gives a peculiar (and often unrealistic) bias to his presentation of late Roman history.
|School:||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign|
|School Location:||United States -- Illinois|
|Source:||DAI-A 46/07, Dissertation Abstracts International|
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