Historia Augusta Essay

901 words - 4 pages

The chosen gobbet is an extract from Historia Augusta or 'The Augustan history' and is a collection of the biographies of the roman Emperors during the period from 117 to 284. It was originally thought that the collection was written by a collection of several different writers which were known as the Scriptores Historia Augustae consisting of "Aelius Spartianus", "Iulius Capitolinus", "Vulcacius Gallicanus", "Aelius Lampridius", "Trebellius Pollio", and "Flavius Vopiscus" There is and was much debate as to who, when, why and legitimacy of the Historia Augusta. Isaac Casaubon produced the first translated edition in 1603 but it was Hermann Dessau in 1889 in his essay, "Über Zeit und Persönlichkeit der Scriptor Historiae Augustae" that suggested that the six scriptores were in fact an alias, and that the work was indeed written much later; he put forward evidence for this amongst which was that the life of Septimus Severus was copied from Aurelius Victor, that the life of Marcus Aurelius contained material from Eutropius. Studies of the works have revealed that there is a continuity of style and as a result today most of academia concludes that the author of Historia Augusta is a single person not a collective.
"During a happy period of more than fourscore years, the public administration was conducted by the virtue and abilities of Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and the two Antonines. It is the design of this and of the two succeeding chapters to describe the prosperous condition of their empire, and afterwards, from the death of Marcus Antoninus, to deduce the most important circumstances of its decline and fall, a revolution which will ever be remembered and is still felt by the nations of the earth." This was the conclusion to the first paragraph of Edward Gibbon masterpiece. And it sums it up very well indeed.
This particular extract is from the biography of Hadrian who was the roman emperor from 117 to 138. At the time of his ascension, he was governor of Syria and he succeeded to the throne after the death of Trajan. Hadrian’s succession to the throne only occurred because upon his death bed, Trajan adopted Hadrian; which of course concreted the throne for Hadrian. The circumstance of Hadrian’s adoption and consequent ascension were surrounded with conspiracy theories and rumours. One such rumour concerned Hadrian’s adoption and Trajan’s death and this rumour implied that Plotina had apparently slipped a servant into Trajan’s deathbed to announce Hadrian’s adoption after Trajan had actually died; thus cementing Hadrian’s ascension . A result of the rumours and descent Hadrian arranged to have four of Trajan’s generals and respected senators executed; they were men of stature and all highly respected in the society of Rome apparently they were executed for rumour...

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