Character of Historical Writing in Rome


  • Livy and Tacitus were the two eminent historians of ancient Rome. Livy focused on a big task of writing the history of the entire Rome, but could not succeed in his attempt. Tacitus tried a different approach but it lacked critical approach. The other historians attempted a compilation or some kind of propaganda.
  • Trogus Pompeius wrote on the Universal history but it was lost.
  • Plutarch a prolific writer wrote on historical biographies. Ptolemy, Strabo, Herodian, Dia Cassius were the other authors.
  • The Periplus of Erythrean Sea of 1st century AD tells about the geography of the Red sea, Arabia, East Africa and Irdies. Strabo wrote about the geography of Mediterranean Sea.

       The quality and quantity of declined in the 2nd century AD. The cultural standards also declined. The writers wrote on political propaganda and hence ignored the truth and government imposed restrictions on writing. This affected the historical writing. There was no political events and significant event that provoked writing. People appreciated rhetorical method and not historical, critical method. Intellectual activity was diverted to religious activity with the spread of Christianity.


  1. In many respect Greek and Roman had common character. It was humanistic. So it narrated the aim, work, success and failure of man.
  • The role of super natural beings in the work was limited. According to them the course of the event was decided by man, only the success and the failure as decided by gad.
  • Greek and Roman focused on current history not much importance was given to past and future.
  1. It was based on particularism of Greek. For Greeks the centre of gravity was Greece and in Romans the centre of gravity was Rome.
  • For all the historians, history was centered with men and not with unchanging entities like cold, stone etc.


  • Greece writing of criticism and enquiry received attention. But Rome was less critical. So it was less philosophical and less impressive.
  1. In Rome, writing was diverted towards the propaganda of politicians hence to focus for truth.

It diverted towards religious side. Hence the quantity and quality of writing in Rome declined.