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Title: A study of a late antique corpus of biographies (Historia Augusta)
Author: Baker, Renan
ISNI:       0000 0004 5049 8636
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis provides a fresh investigation of a collection of Roman imperial biographies conventionally known as the 'Historia Augusta'. The thesis supports the authenticity of the texts included in this corpus, in particular the claims they make about their dates, authorship, and scope, through philological, literary, prosopographical, and historical arguments. It shows that this corpus of texts, if the main conclusions are accepted, potentially improves our understanding of the tetrarchic-Constantinian era. It also explores the wider implications for the historiography of the fourth century; the transmission and formation of multi-author corpora in antiquity and the middle ages. It also suggests that the canon of Latin imperial biographies be widened. The thesis has two parts. Part I explores the actual state of the corpus, its textual transmission, and relation to other texts. It shows that the ancient and medieval paratexts presented the corpus as a collection of imperial biographies. The paratexts are compatible with the authorial statements in the main text. It then explores the corpus' medieval transmission, and the interest medieval scholars had in such texts. This part suggests that the corpus’s current state explains well the inconsistencies found in it. Finally, it shows that words and phrases, once thought peculiar to the corpus and the holy grail of the forgery argument, are intertextual links to earlier texts. Part II explores chronological statements and historical episodes relevant to the Diocletianic-Constantinan period. It establishes the actual dates of each author, and suggests that the confusion found in these biographies is similar to that of other contemporaries. The few apostrophes are shown to be authentic, and the historical and prosopographical passages are shown to represent, and improve our understanding of, the zeitgeist and history of the period. The final conclusion weaves the various arguments together, and emphasises the authenticity and significance of the corpus' texts. It suggests separating the composition of the texts from the disinterested formation of the corpus as a whole, as part of a new hypothesis and further lines of enquiry.
Supervisor: McLynn, Neil Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History ; Reception of Classical antiquity ; Economic and Social History ; History of Africa ; History of the ancient world ; Intellectual History ; Late antiquity and the Middle Ages ; German ; Hellenic languages ; Classical Greek ; Latin ; Italic literatures,i.e.,Latin ; Anxiety disorders ; Suicide research ; Ancient philosophy ; Social psychology ; Stereotyping and intergroup relations ; Stress ; Church history ; Judaism ; Religions of antiquity ; Roman Empire ; Latin Language ; Biography ; Ancient Biography ; Biographical Writing