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The Play of Allusion in the Historia Augusta
David Rohrbacher

Wisconsin Studies in Classics
Patricia A. Rosenmeyer, Laura McClure, Mark Stansbury-O’Donnell, and Matthew Roller, Series Editors

“This lively and original analysis of the Historia Augusta successfully argues that it was a fictional work to entertain a fifth-century audience, and the pleasure resides in the deliberate anachronisms, allusions, and parodies of both ancient and more contemporary authors and genres.”
—Ellen O’Gorman, University of Bristol

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.



Author. Photo credit, Name David Rohrbacher is an associate professor of classics at New College of Florida. He is the author of The Historians of Late Antiquity.





“A valuable literary study that synthesizes a large, diffuse body of scholarship, integrating it in an intelligent argument about the literary milieu in which the Historia Augusta emerged. The Historia Augusta has long needed a study like this one.”
—Adam Kemezis, University of Alberta



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The Play of Allusion in the Historia Augusta
Larger images

January 2016
LC: 2015008393 DG
268 pp.   6 x 9

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Cloth $65.00 s
ISBN 978-0-299-30600-7
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