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Flavius Josephus and Flavian Rome$
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Jonathan Edmondson, Steve Mason, and James Rives

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199262120

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199262120.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 October 2021

From Exempla to Exemplar? Writing History around the Emperor in Imperial Rom e

From Exempla to Exemplar? Writing History around the Emperor in Imperial Rom e

(p.181) 9 From Exempla to Exemplar? Writing History around the Emperor in Imperial Rome
Flavius Josephus and Flavian Rome

Christina Shuttleworth Kraus

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on 1st-century CE Roman historical narrative, with a view to understanding to what extent Josephus may have been influenced by such writing. It is argued that works such as Valerius Maximus’ Memorable Words and Deeds, Tacitus’ Annales, and Frontinus’ Strategemata all displayed a similar tendency towards the use of exemplarity (exempla) as a principal technique of understanding the past. The increasing emphasis on ‘great figures’ by 1st-century Roman historians, a phenomenon catalyzed by and pulled towards the figure of the Emperor, was a literary tactic which underlined individuals as unique actors in history. It also, however, portrayed individuals’ actions and behaviours as relatively fixed paradigms, to be imitated or eschewed by posterity. This chapter maintains that this technique of exemplarity is to be seen as inextricably linked with the increasing influence of biography on Roman historical writing, sometimes, as in the case of Tertullian’s and Jerome’s references to Tacitus’ work, actually becoming conflated with it.

Keywords:   historiography, biography, exemplarity/exempla, paradigms, narrative technique, Tacitus, Valerius Maximus, Frontinus

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