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Speaking in Fragments: Narrators and the Roman Historiographic Tradition in Livy's Third Decade

Charles Westfall Oughton

This paper analyzes the fragments of two of Livy’s predecessors, Coelius Antipater and

Valerius Antias, and argues that Livy incorporates elements from these texts into the AUC through

the use of internal narrators and focalizers. This analysis reveals Livy’s engagement with the

Roman historiographic tradition outside of the direct citation of his sources. Recent editions of the

corpora of the fragmentary historians of Rome (Chassignet 1996-2004; Beck and Walter 2001-

2004; Cornell 2014) have created an atmosphere primed for work on these authors. In addition to

work on the early Roman historiographic tradition (Badian 1966, Kierdorf 2003), I build upon

recent scholarship addressing Livy’s use of his sources (Levene 2010), methods of citation

(Haimson Lushkov 2013), and narrators (Pausch 2010 and 2011), as well as Roman perceptions

of Hannibal (Chassignet 2008, Moore 2010) and Scipio (Chaplin 2010).

I begin by briefly describing the characteristics of Coelius’ and Antias’ narratives and

Livy’s explicit use of their texts. First, Coelius likely used Silenus as a source for his monograph

(F8 FRHist = Cic. de Div. 1.49), perhaps giving rise to his fantastical accounts (e.g., F32, F36, and

F52 FRHist). Second, Silenus’ text provides Coelius with a source that allows him to frame his

narrative from the Punic perspective (e.g., F22 FRHist = Gell. 10.24.6-7 or F32 FRHist = Cic de

Div. 1.48). Livy directly incorporates these aspects of Coelius’ histories through variant citations,

as he does when he notes Coelius’ version that Cornelius Scipio is saved at Ticinus by a Ligurian

slave (F12 FRHist = Livy 21.46.7-10). Valerius Antias’ Annales, on the other hand, provide the

shape for Livy’s annalistic framework (Rich 1997), given the presence of Antian fragments in

Livy’s annalistic notices (F58, F63, F64 FRHist). Livy also often questions details noted in Antias’

text (e.g., F23 FRHist = Livy 3.5.12-13, F36 FRHist = Livy 33.10.8).

I then examine Livy’s engagement with these narratives through his use of focalizers and

internal narrators. First, his use of focalization allows him to include fantastical elements found in

his predecessors. Livy integrates (22.5) Coelius’ account of the earthquake occurring on the same

day as the Battle of Trasimene (F14b FRHist = Cic. de Div. 1.77-78) by noting the soldiers’ failure

to notice it. While Antias records a flame reflecting on Lucius Marcius as he addresses the troops

in Spain (F27b FRHist = Pliny NH 2.240-1), Livy (=F27a = AUC 25.39.14) sensationalizes the

account, uses the army as character-bound focalizers, and cites this less realistic narrative as the

opinio communis of his sources. Second, Livy also uses internal speakers to incorporate details of

his predecessors’ narratives into the AUC. Livy (22.51) subsumes Coelius’ speech of a Punic

general (F22 FRHist. = Gell. 10.24.6-7) who offers to deliver Rome to Hannibal by suggesting the

achievement of Coelius’ conditional statement. Antias engages in a famous debate about Scipio’s

morality (F29 FRHist = Gell. 7.8.3-6) by describing the general’s use of a Spanish captive for his

sexual pleasure. Livy notes Antias as a source in his narrative of the fall of Carthago Nova (=F28

FRHist = Livy 26.49.1-6), but gives no explicit validation to Antias’ account of Scipio’s sexual

indiscretion. Instead, Livy has the young general give a speech publicly returning the captive girl

to her relatives (26.50). Within Livy’s report of this speech, however, Scipio demonstrates his

interest in the woman, suggesting that the Roman would have fulfilled his desires had his duty not

interfered. Livy thereby incorporates Antias’ version within the speech of a secondary narrator and

focalizes the desire and its subsequent refusal from Scipio’s perspective. This paper argues that

Livy subsumes elements of Coelius’ and Antias’ narratives through his use of secondary narration

and focalization. The voices of these internal narrators expose fragments of variant traditions from

Rome’s historiographic past and allow scholars another way to engage with these lost texts

Session/Panel Title

Fragments from Theory to Practice

Session/Paper Number


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