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The Worlds of Aulus Gellius$
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Leofranc Holford-Strevens and Amiel Vardi

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199264827

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199264827.001.0001

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Gellius and the Roman Antiquarian Tradition

Gellius and the Roman Antiquarian Tradition

(p.118) 5 Gellius and the Roman Antiquarian Tradition
The Worlds of Aulus Gellius

Andrew J. Stevenson

Oxford University Press

This chapter considers Gellius' relation to Roman antiquarianism, whose supreme exponent was Varro and which provided the supposedly factual background to everyday life. Although not himself an antiquarian scholar, he retails much antiquarian and other scholarship, and is indebted to scholarly methods and habits. These include the use of etymologies, contents-lists, careful naming of sources, the use of rubrics, the question-and-answer process, research including the study of inscriptions as well as books, emphasis on detail, and the presentation of alternative views. Antiquarianism studied the Roman past in terms of persons, places, times, and things, being concerned with public life both political and religious, and also with private institutions and the law. Its original purpose of fitting their readers for civic life had mutated by Gellius' day (the sheer pleasure of learning apart) into facilitating elite Romans' self-definition as Romans.

Keywords:   antiquarianism, Varro, scholarly methods, inscriptions, public life, institutions, self-definition

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