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ANNALISTS (from Lat. annas, year; hen...

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Originally appearing in Volume V02, Page 61 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ANNALISTS (from Lat. annas, year; hence annales, sc. libri, annual records), the name given to a class of writers on Roman history, the period of whose literary activity lasted from the time of the Second Punic War to that of Sulla. They wrote the history of Rome from the earliest times (in most cases) down to their own days, the events of which were treated in much greater detail. For the earlier period their authorities were state and family records—above all, the annales maximi (or annales pontificum), the official chronicle of Rome, in which the notable occurrences of each year from the foundation of the city were set down by the pontifex maxilnus. Although these annals were no doubt destroyed at the time of the burning of Rome by the Gauls, they were restored as far as possible and continued until the pontificate of P. Mucius Scaevola, by whom they were finally published in eighty books. Two generations of these annalists have been distinguished—an older and a younger. The older, which extends to 150 L.C., set forth, in bald, unattractive language, without any pretensions to style, but with a certain amount of trustworthiness, the most important events of each successive year. Cicero (De Oratore, ii. 12. 53), comparing these writers with the old Ionic logographers, says that they paid no attention to ornament, and considered the only merits of a writer to be intelligibility and conciseness. Their annals were a mere compilation of facts. The younger generation, in view of the requirements and criticism of a reading public, cultivated the art of composition and rhetorical embellishment. As a general rule the annalists wrote in a spirit of uncritical patriotism, which led them to minimize or gloss over such disasters as the conquest of Rome by Porsena and the compulsory payment of ransom to the Gauls, and to flatter the people by exaggerated accounts of Roman prowess, dressed up in fanciful language. At first they wrote in Greek, partly because a national style was not yet formed, and partly because Greek was the fashionable language amongst the educated, although Latin versions were probably published as well. The first of the annalists, the father of Roman history, as he has been called, was Q. FABIUS PICTOR (see FABIUS PICTOR) ; contemporary with him was L. Cincius ALIMENTUS, who flourished during the Hannibalic war.' Like Fabius Pictor, he wrote in Greek. He was taken prisoner by Hannibal (Livy xxi. 38), who is said to have given him details of the crossing of the Alps. His work embraced the history of Rome from its foundation down to his own days. With M. PORCIUS CATO (q.v.) historical composition ' He is not to be confused with L. Cincius, the author of various political and antiquarian treatises (de Fastis, de Comitiis, de Priscis Verbis), who lived in the Augustan age, to which period Mommsen, considering them a later fabrication, refers the Greek annals of L. Cincius Alimentus.
End of Article: ANNALISTS (from Lat. annas, year; hence annales, sc. libri, annual records)
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