Friday, September 20, 2019

Did Livy independently confirm Bellum Gallicum?

HGL'S F.B. WRITINGS: [rejecting Christianity implies ignorance, pro et contra] · Φιλολoγικά/Philologica: Did Livy independently confirm Bellum Gallicum?

Nearly a month ago, I was finishing a debate with John Médaille.

Here is how it ended:

Hans-Georg Lundahl
"the Romans actually occupied Gaul from, oh, say a thousand different sources,"

You don't have a thousand, a hundred, or even twenty (I was nearly saying ten) sources from back then.

You have Julius Caesar, you also have Velleius Paterculus writing in the time of Tiberius (who was careful about the memory of Caesar).

If you know more sources, tell me, but I am a Latinist and know probably more than you about Classic Antiquities, "thousand sources" isn't bluffing me.

One could equally say there were thousand sources for the Church existing, while they were fewer.

A community usually recalls how it comes about.

I also know no historian who doubts Vercingetorix died in Rome after being tied behind the triumph of Caesar.

John Médaille
Exactly. Because we have many sources.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
We have Caesar and later people depending on his account.

And they are definitely not "many".

I have a trouble calling you an "ignoramus". In Latin, that is a first person plural verb, and I find it ignorant to use it as a noun.

But you just showed ignorance of Antiquities.

John Médaille
Ah, the ad hominem argument: the admission of failure.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
No, it is not ad hominem, it is highly relevant to the argument.

You IMAGINE historians who admit Caesar beat Vercongetorix have LOTS of sources, FROM THAT TIME.

Someone who KNOWS doesn't.

John Médaille
Okay, Hans.

Hans-Georg Lundahl
So you admit that:

  • history is known from tradition
  • independent contemporary multiple evidence is good but not needed?

He didn't as far as the FB notifications allowed me to see, ever answer whether he admitted that. That means, he could have said "Okay, Hans" as a way of humouring me.

Now, if he hadn't, if he had answered, he might have answered off the hip asking "didn't Livy deal with Roman History up to his own day?"

He wasn't that careless. Good for him in a way.

Here is why that would be careless. Yes, Livy did so, but this does not mean we have Livy as a source.

And here is why we haven't Livy as a source: Gallic Wars begins in Livy's book 103. They end in his book 108. I am not sure, but I think the triumph in Rome with Vercingetorix killed after triumph was even after Civil War. And Civil War ends in Livy's book 116.

So, we do not have these books? No.

Books 46 (coming after an almost complete 45 dealing with Third Macedonian War, capture of Perseus, Sixth Syrian War, triumph of Aemilius Paullus) to 142 are almost all of them lost. Obviously 103 to 116 come between these. 91 of which we have a fragment is about Sertorian War. The one's not simply lost in our relevant span are 111 and 112 being quoted.

Obviously, if they are lost, how do we know what they were about?

Well, here is how:

Livy was abridged, in antiquity, to an epitome, which survives for Book 1, but was itself abridged in the fourth century into the so-called Periochae, which is simply a list of contents. The Periochae survive for the entire work, except for books 136 and 137.[7] In Oxyrhynchus, a similar summary of books 37–40 and 48–55 was found on a roll of papyrus that is now in the British Museum classified as P.Oxy.IV 0668.[8] There is another fragment, named P.Oxy.XI 1379, which represents a passage from the first book (I, 6) and that shows a high level of correctness.[9] However the Oxyrhynchus Epitome is damaged and incomplete.

Notes 7 to 9 give the references (which I'm too lazy to check):

"Livy: the Periochae". Retrieved August 5, 2014


The Oxyrhynchus Papyri, part XI, London, 1915, pagg. 188-89.

This means, for the books in questions we have now resumés as short as "108 Gallic Wars, Battle of Alesia, victory of Gaius Cassius Longinus against the Parthians."

At this point, John Médaille might say "ah, but historians do doubt Alesia, for instance, the place has never been unequivocally identified". Yes, but the historians who do raise serious doubts on Battle of Alesia for this reason are not mainstream. They may have had a vogue in the seventies, back about when he was at university. Overall, they are not very mainstream.

In other words, John Médaille was pretending to use on Gospels a kind of methodology which if applied to Gallic Wars would lead to doubting at least Alesia. In fact, if you read the whole debate, to doubting even the series of events on the whole, from expansionism of Helvetian Orgetorix to Alesia.

So, John Médaille was careful in not replying, unless, I said, he did and I missed the update.

Was Livy at least independent of Caesar's Bellum Gallicum? No, not very. Alesia siege occurred in September, 52 BC. 2071 years ago, to the month, unless some parts of inbetween chronology got garbled. Livy was born in 64 or 59 BC, in what is now Padua. So, he was 7 or 12 years old when it occurred. This clearly means, he was staying at home in Padua. This means he had to rely on others for information. And on whom?

He was on familiar terms with members of the Julio-Claudian dynasty and even in friendship with Augustus,[1] whose young grandnephew, the future emperor Claudius, he exhorted to take up the writing of history.[2]

Notes 1 and 2:

Tacitus. Annales. IV.34.

Suetonius. Claudius. The Twelve Caesars. 41.1.

And note, it would seem to me that Tacitus and Suetonius are the earliest authors after Livy who mention him, though I haven't so far checked if he occurs in Velleius Paterculus, who wrote in AD 30. Up to and in. But if Livy was in disfavour with Tiberius, I think it less probable that Velleius Paterculus, who was very obsequious to Tiberius, was mentioning him. He was in disfavour with Tiberius? See this discussion about his life dates:

Livy was likely born between 64 and 59 B.C. and died sometime between A.D. 12 to 17. He started his work sometime between 31 B.C. and 25 B.C. St. Jerome says that Livy was born the same year as Marcus Valerius Messala Corvinus and died the same year as Ovid.[21] Messala, however, was born earlier, in 64 BC, and Ovid's death, usually taken to be the same year as Livy's, is more uncertain. As an alternative view, Ronald Syme argues for 64 BC – 12 AD as a range for Livy, setting the death of Ovid at 12.[22] A death date of 12, however, removes Livy from Augustus' best years and makes him depart for Padua without the good reason of the second emperor, Tiberius, being not as tolerant of his republicanism. The contradiction remains.

St. Jerome (Hieronymus): Chronological Tables – for Olympiads 170 to 203 [= 100 BC – 36 AD]". Attalus. 29 February 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2009.

Livy (1994). Kraus, Christina Shuttleworth (ed.). Ab vrbe condita. Book VI. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 1. ISBN 0-521-41002-9.

So, we know about Livy himself from mainly Tacitus and Suetonius who were both born after he had died. AD 56 and 69, that is. Seneca and Pliny also mention him, but very briefly. And we know about the content of Livy's work except when books are preserved (as often up to 45) from Periochae which were written in the fourth Century. And one of the things we do know, if we accept this as adequate source material, which historians do, is, he was depending on same set of people, roughly, as Caesar had belonged to. The Julio-Claudian dynasty may have differed from "Julius himself" (but Julius isn't a first name!) in politics, but they certainly agreed with honouring his military exploits, like the Gallic War. They even prayed to him as a god.

Does this remind you of a case where sources have been deemed too little independent, or too late after facts or both? Anoth JC? Someone whom Constantine called Emperor of Heaven? I think it remind me of Him.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Vigil of St. Matthew

PS, link to wiki is given here to the main article I used, other articles can be reached from it:

PPS, wikipedia may not be a creditable source, but on Classic Antiquities, it seems to beat John Médaille./HGL

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