Poetry and history in Ennius’ Annales

Author: Elliott, Jacqueline
Title: Poetry and history in Ennius’ Annales
Place edition: New York
Editor: Columbia University, Department of Classics.
Year edition: 2005
Pages: VII, 235
Keywords: Histoire - Storia - History, Poesia - Poesie - Poetry
Description: [Abstract] Thesis (Ph. D.). This study examines the history, ancient and modern, of our accounts of Ennius’ Annales and their place in literary history. In reconsidering the nature of our evidence for and about the text, it offers a partially revised interpretation of the kind of work the Annales might have been. That interpretation is based in part on the nature of the surviving language of the poem, the authorial choices it implies and the ambitions it demonstrates in relation to diverse strands of historiographical and epic literary endeavour. At the same time, the argument seeks to draw attention to the ways in which the interests of our sources have significantly determined the nature of the evidence reaching the modern reader. A central thesis of this study is thus that awareness of how the ancient reception of the Annales limits the perspectives in which we see the poem is crucial to any balanced act of interpretation. Arguably, for example, explicit ancient judgment about the poem (such as that offered by such influential readers as Cicero and Propertius) has, in the absence of the majority of the Ennian text, been significantly formative of our modern accounts of its nature and function; yet these sources cannot (nor do they try to) tell the whole story of the Annales. One suggestion here is that another aspect of the ancient reception of the Annales worth considering is the issue of how the text would have read in the post-Vergilian era, after the Aeneid had (by means of a quasi-cannibalistic integration into itself of the language of Ennian poetry) established itself as the central text in the Roman epic landscape. The text of the Aeneid itself and the testimony of ancient scholars concerning the relationship between the Aeneid and the Annales are auxiliaries in this exploration. Ultimately, however, these texts serve merely as a starting-point; inquiry into the Annales develops along lines independent of their specific suggestions, while, however, maintaining consciousness of the Vergilian lens they imply.
Author initials: Eliott 2005