This paper asks whether and how intertextuality operates differently in historiography than in poetry and, if it does, whether and why any difference matters. The paper begins by noting differing approaches to historiographical intertextuality, with particular attention given to the work of Ayelet Haimson Lushkov and David Levene (in the 2011 APA seminar on the topic), and John Marincola and Cynthia Damon. The work of these scholars indicates ways in which the current taxonomy of intertextual approaches to historical narrative can be expanded. In particular, where other genres allow allusions to originate with the author, the text, or the reader, historiography adds the historical actor as a source.
The central section of the paper takes as its starting point A. E. Astin’s observations about the similarities between Scipio Aemilianus and Scipio Africanus. The paper then contends that Scipio Aemilianus deliberately pursued a program of imitation and quoted his biological father and adoptive grandfather until he achieved their renown. The wide range of evidence from Aemilianus’ career shows that he was interested in modeling and exemplary thinking, that he was expected to live up to his famous forebears, and that he actively imitated and constituted as intertexts for his own conduct the lives of both Lucius Aemilius Paullus and Scipio Africanus. While Polybius features prominently in the source tradition for Aemilianus, independent evidence makes clear that the similarities between the two Scipios are not solely of his fabrication.
The final section of the paper relates the case for Aemilianus as an ‘author’ of intertextuality to the questions about authorship and exemplarity raised by the work of Levene and Marincola (as discussed in the first section). The Roman habit of manufacturing allusions to events means that historical agents must be considered as sources of intertextuality. While other genres, particularly Roman historical epic, allow for this type of intertextuality, it is most suited to historiography and its claimed relationship to reality. The more important implications, however, may be for the practice of history. If the second Aemilianus fashioned himself from his father and grandfather and in so doing made them into his intertexts, then it is necessary to rethink our understanding of Paullus and especially Scipio Africanus. The ‘rise and fall’ pattern applied to the latter obscures the shift in sources that the available evidence promotes; in practice the ‘rise’ comes from the Polybian/Aemilianic narrative and the ‘fall’ from Roman authors. If, by contrast, the rise was less glorious and the fall less extreme, Scipio Africanus may not prefigure the first-century warlords, and we may need to recalibrate our interpretation of the senate in the early third century. The paper concludes that the practice of Roman history requires attention to the tendency to make past and present allude to one another.