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When Demigods Walked the Earth

T.P. Wiseman: Roman Myth, Roman History, 18 October 2007

Caesar’s Calendar: Ancient Time and the Beginnings of History 
by Denis Feeney.
California, 372 pp., £18.95, June 2007, 978 0 520 25119 9
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... How old is Rome? Sporadic pottery fragments from the Bronze Age have long been known about, but have only recently been found in a stratified context, in excavations on the Capitoline Hill. It is now for the first time possible to say with confidence that the continuous occupation of the site goes back to at least 1300 BC. Recent excavations have also revealed an Iron Age cemetery below the Capitoline (in what was later the Forum of Caesar), analogous to the one discovered a century ago beside the Sacra Via below the Palatine (next to the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina ...

Was it really a translation?

T.P. Wiseman: Latin Literature, 22 September 2016

Beyond Greek: The Beginnings of Latin Literature 
by Denis Feeney.
Harvard, 382 pp., £25, January 2016, 978 0 674 05523 0
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... The beginning​ of Latin literature was a datable event. At one moment it didn’t exist, and then after the production of a play in Latin by a man called Livius, it did. That at least is what Cicero seems to say two hundred years later, in his dialogue with Brutus of 46 BC on the history of oratory. In order to justify his view that the speeches of the elder Cato, though early, were even so admirable, Cicero pointed out that none of the creative arts reached perfection straightaway: There must have been poets before Homer, as we can tell from the songs sung at the banquets of the Phaeacians and of the suitors on Ithaca in the Odyssey ...

Murder Most Mythic

W.V. Harris, 23 May 1996

Remus: A Roman Myth 
by T.P. Wiseman.
Cambridge, 243 pp., £35, September 1995, 0 521 41981 6
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The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (c.1000-246 BC) 
by T.J. Cornell.
Routledge, 507 pp., £50, September 1995, 0 415 01595 2
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... one needs are cases in which successive stages of a myth can be documented, and that – if T.P. Wiseman’s enthralling new book is right – is exactly what the foundation myth of Rome has to offer. The myth of the founding twins Romulus and Remus, as it was written down by Rome’s first historian Fabius Pictor about 200 BC (when Rome was already becoming ...

Roman History in Chains

Fergus Millar, 19 June 1980

Romans and Aliens 
by J.P.V.D. Balsdon.
Duckworth, 310 pp., £18, August 1979, 0 7156 1043 0
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Pompey: A Political Biography 
by Robin Seager.
Blackwell, 209 pp., £12, August 1979, 0 631 10841 6
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The Gracchi 
by David Stockton.
Oxford, 251 pp., £9.50, October 1979, 0 19 872104 8
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Cicero: the Ascending Years 
by Thomas Mitchell.
Yale, 257 pp., £11, September 1979, 0 300 02277 8
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Clio’s Cosmetics: Three Studies in Greco-Roman Literature 
by T.P. Wiseman.
Leicester University Press, 209 pp., £13, November 1979, 0 7185 1165 4
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... which prevail in English ancient history. Yet, in another way, they all, with the exception of Wiseman’s Clio’s Cosmetics, give an uneasy impression of parochialism, of an unconsciousness of debates and questions current elsewhere in the writing of history, and of a lack of any perspective on the very particular problems posed by the enormous but ...

Dire Fury

Shadi Bartsch: Roman Political Theatre, 26 February 2009

‘Octavia’, Attributed to Seneca 
edited by A.J. Boyle.
Oxford, 340 pp., £70, April 2008, 978 0 19 928784 0
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... date the Octavia to the short period in which Nero’s successor, Galba, was in power; T.P. Wiseman has suggested that it was performed for Galba’s entry into the city in October 68 CE. It would thus represent a look back at the end of the Neronian period on the part of an audience that could afford to be hopeful despite the drama’s grim ...

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