Recent years have seen a welcome growth of interest in the history of early Rome. Libri Annales Pontificum Maximorum: the Origins of the Annalistic Tradition contributes important information on this period by focusing on the earliest stages of Roman historical writing. The book is once again available, with a new Introduction by the author that brings the work up to date and helps place it in its current context. This book remains the starting point for study of the pre-annalistic tradition of Roman history.
When first published, the volume sparked a lively debate among classicists and historians of the ancient world. Previous scholarship had often assigned the pontifical chronicle a central role not only in preserving the history of the early Republic, but also in shaping the form of the annalistic tradition. But the author showed that these assumptions rested on insecure foundations; to a large extent, they misrepresented the historiographic development of the annalistic tradition as we know it from, above all, Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus.
Perhaps the book's most controversial contention was that the final eighty-book edition of the chronicle, which previous scholars had dated to the later second century BCE, is more probably a massive reworking of materials in the Augustan period. This finding will likely require a considerable revision in our understanding of the development of the annalistic tradition. In the course of making these innovative arguments, the author offers extensive information about the origins of the annalistic tradition and about the early history and historiography of Rome.