You are not currently logged in. Please create an account or log in to view the full course.

Ancient Historiography

3. The Roman Historians: Sallust, Livy and Tacitus

This is the course trailer. Please create an account or log in to view this lecture.

  • Description
  • Cite

About this Lecture


In this module, we turn to the historians of Rome, focusing in particular on: (i) the ‘lateness’ of historical writing in Rome and the impact this has on the character and central interests of Roman history; (ii) the earliest Roman historian, Fabius Pictor, including: the fact he wrote in Greek, and his belief in the value of history as a means of understanding/explaining the present; (iii) Sallust, including: his major works (both surviving and lost); the centrality of ‘war’ (Latin: bellum) to Roman historical writing; his debt to Thucydides; and his interest in drawing universal laws from small-scale historical events; (iv) Livy, including: his belief in the Augustan project; his belief in the superior virtue of the early Republic and its contribution to the greatness of Rome under Augustus; and (v) Tacitus: his belief in the superior virtue of the early Republic; his view of the political decline of Rome, especially since the fall of the Republican; and his celebrated prose style.


In this course, Professor Matthew Fox (University of Glasgow) provides a broad introduction the writing of history (or ‘historiography’) in the Greek and Roman world. In the first module, we think about some of the key issues when approaching ancient historical writing, including the idea of the purpose of history and the main differences between how history is written today and how it was written in the ancient world. After that, in the second module, we turn to the works of Herodotus and Thucydides, their similarities and differences, and the impact on later historiography. In the third module, we turn to the evolution of historical writing in the Roman world from Sallust to Tacitus, before moving on in the fourth module to consider the important of rhetoric in ancient historiography. Finally, in the fifth module, we think about the presence of history in the poetry of the ancient world, including Homer, Virgil, Ovid and Lucan.


Matthew Fox is Professor of Classics at Glasgow University. His research focuses on ancient historical thinking, and on how both Romans and Greeks used history as a medium for reflection. His publications include Roman Historical Myths: the Regal Period in Augustan Literature (1996) and Cicero's Philosophy of History (2007).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Fox, M. (2020, October 26). Ancient Historiography - The Roman Historians: Sallust, Livy and Tacitus [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Fox, M. "Ancient Historiography – The Roman Historians: Sallust, Livy and Tacitus." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 26 Oct 2020,