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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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... That huge discrepancy illustrates the unhistorical nature of the Romans’ idea of their distant past. Both dates are inconsistent with the modern archaeological record, as indeed is the very idea of a single act of foundation, as if Rome were a colonial settlement. But that is what we should expect. Societies that do not commit narrative events to writing ...

Was it really a translation?

T.P. Wiseman: Latin Literature, 21 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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... banquets of the Phaeacians and of the suitors on Ithaca in the Odyssey. And where is our own ancient poetry ‘that once the Fauns and prophets sang’? … The Latin Odyssey is like some archaic sculpture by Daedalus, and Livius’ plays aren’t worth reading twice. This Livius was the first to produce a play – it was in the consulship of Gaius ...

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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... What 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 ...

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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... the Persians captured, sacked and burned the city of Miletus in 494 BCE, the Athenian playwright Phrynicus produced The Capture of Miletus, a tragedy about the colony’s harrowing fate. It was still early in the history of Athenian drama, and it may have been the audience’s reaction to Phrynicus’ play that led later tragedians to prefer mythological ...

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