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Classics Colloquium: Hannah Čulik-Baird (Boston University)

  • Columbia University 503 Hamilton Hall New York, NY 10027 (map)

Vetustas pauca non deprauat, multa tollit—loss and recovery of knowledge in the late Republic

How well do the Romans know their own history? In a world where records of the past rot away, are eaten by worms, mice, larvae, are accidentally or deliberately set on fire, how is a Roman of the late Republic supposed to understand Rome's past? In the De Lingua Latina (5.5), Varro wrote: uetustas pauca non deprauat, multa tollit; “there is little that time does not distort, much it obliterates completely.”  In the Academica (1.9), Cicero had said that, before Varro's books — "we were wandering and straying about like foreigners in our own city, and Varro's books led us, so to speak, right home again, and enabled us at last to realize who and where we were.” In this paper, I outline the challenges faced by late Republican Romans interested in understanding their city's history, and what kind of strategies they developed to recover "lost" knowledge. 

Earlier Event: January 19
Latin Proficiency Exam
Later Event: February 2
Classics Colloquium: Nicholas Rynearson