Fragments of the historians of Alexander the Great in the Naturalis Historia: Between memory and oblivion
University of Florence (Italy, Florence)
Keywords: Fragmentary historians of Alexander, Book 6 of NH, Juba II, Aristobulus, Ptolemaeus, Nearchus, Arrian’s Anabasis.
Abstract: The analysis starts from the 6th Book of the Naturalis Historia, where we can find information derived from the historians of Alexander and those others scientists who followed his expedition. Pliny thus proves to know the work of the bematists but doesn’t consider at all the historiographical work of Aristobulus, and mentions Ptolemaeus only in specific dossiers regarding certain subjects. Moreover, the Naturalist declares that he drew his account from Juba II, but in terms of the passages analyzed here he consistently took inspiration from the work of Nearchus. However, Pliny made only sporadic notes about the contemporary historians of Alexander and he did not consider their importance. The passages concerning Alexander’s historians in NH don’t have the kind of significant role as they will have in Arrian’s Anabasis: the historian from Nicomedia thinks that the achievements of Alexander the Great as Res Gestae should be used as exemplum for Trajan, while Pliny doesn’t want and cannot “show as exemplum” anything to emperors Vespasian or Titus. In the contemporary political life of the Plinian age, historiography was not a very neutral refuge (in other words it wasn’t something very advisable to do), especially during the last years of Nero’s empire. The encyclopedic purpose of the work has strongly conditioned the content: the author of “the inventory of the World of the Flavian age” was no longer interested and fascinated by the myth of Alexander, which had been the reference point of the Imitatio Alexandri of Augustan propaganda.
To cite this article: Bucciantini, V. (2020). Fragments of the historians of Alexander the Great in the Naturalis Historia: Between memory and oblivion. Shagi/Steps, 6(1), 26–39. DOI: 10.22394/2412-9410-2020-6-1-26-39.