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Aspects of the Language of Latin Prose$
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Tobias Reinhardt, Michael Lapidge, and J. N. Adams

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780197263327

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197263327.001.0001

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Hair, Hegemony, and Historiography: Caesar’s Style and its Earliest Critics

Hair, Hegemony, and Historiography: Caesar’s Style and its Earliest Critics

(p.97) Hair, Hegemony, and Historiography: Caesar’s Style and its Earliest Critics
Aspects of the Language of Latin Prose

Christina Shuttleworth Kraus

British Academy

The ancient term commentarius designates works ranging from official records to collections of anecdotes to historical narrative. The ancient historiographical commentarius tended to be represented as an emperor in search of new clothes, as it were – clothing that would provide the copia, ornatus, and completeness appropriate to a work of artistic prose. The three ancient critics presented testify to the frustrations inherent in evaluating a Caesarian commentarius. Additionally, some ways in which the ancient reactions to the Commentarii are reflected in modern criticism (primarily of the Bellum Gallicum) are covered. The chapter then demonstrates that what Eden (1962:74) calls the ‘ambivalent status’ of the commentarius does fit closely with the biographical tradition concerning Caesar’s habits, dress, and demeanor; and further, suggests that same biographical tradition can be read as a complex of metaphors. Caesar’s particular brand of commentarius may be just the kind of oratio this character deserved.

Keywords:   Caesar, commentaries, hair, hegemony, historiography

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