The Play of Allusion in the <i>Historia Augusta<i>
By turns outlandish, humorous, and scatological, the Historia Augusta is an eccentric compilation of biographies of the Roman emperors and usurpers of the second and third centuries. Historians of late antiquity have struggled to explain the fictional date and authorship of the work and its bizarre content (did the Emperor Carinus really swim in pools of floating apples and melons? did the usurper Proculus really deflower a hundred virgins in fifteen days?). David Rohrbacher offers, instead, a literary analysis of the work, focusing on its many playful allusions. Marshaling an array of interdisciplinary research and original analysis, he contends that the Historia Augusta originated in a circle of scholarly readers with an interest in biography, and that its allusions and parodies were meant as puzzles and jokes for a knowing and appreciative audience.
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Alex Alexander Severus allusion Ammianus Marcellinus Ammianus’s ancient Apollonius argues Attalus audience Aurelian Avidius Cassius BHAC biography Birley Bonosus Cameron Carinus Carus Chastagnol Christian Cicero claims Classical Claudius Clodius Albinus commentary Constantine contemporary context Diocletian discussion Elag Elagabalus emperor eunuchs Eutropius evidence evokes example fiction Firmus fourth century Gallienus Gellius genre Gordian Greek HA-author Hengst Herodian Hilarion Histoire Auguste V.1 Historia Augusta Historia-Augusta-Colloquium historiography humor imperial interpretation invented Jerome Jerome’s joke Julian l’Histoire Last Pagans Late Antiquity Latin letter literary lives Marius Maximus Marnas Maximinus Nicomachus Numerian offers Onesimus oracles Oxford parody particular Paschoud passage Pescennius Niger Pollio praise Probus Proculus Quad quae quam quod reader Roman Rome Rudolf Habelt scholarly scholars senate soldiers Stilicho Straub Suetonian Suetonius Syme Tacitus temple Thirty Tyrants traditional Trebellius Pollio University Press usurper Valerian Vergil Vita Vopiscus writing καὶ