Quintus Fabius Pictor

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Quintus Fabius Pictor (flourished c. 200 BC, some sources give his birth as possibly in 254 BC[1]) was one of the earliest Roman historians and considered the first of the annalists. A member of the gens Fabia, he was the grandson of Gaius Fabius Pictor, a painter (pictor in Latin). He was a senator who fought against the Gauls in 225 BC, and against Carthage in the Second Punic War. He was appointed to travel to the oracle at Delphi in 216 BC, for advice after the Roman defeat at the Battle of Cannae.

He wrote in Greek and is often referred to, somewhat dismissively, as an annalist. In fact, amongst the fragments of Pictor that we have there is no evidence that he wrote annalistic history. He used the chronicles of his own and other important Roman families as sources, and began with the arrival of Aeneas in Latium. His work ended with his own recollections of the Second Punic War, which he blamed entirely on Carthage, especially the Barca family of Hamilcar and Hannibal.

Fabius' work utilized the writings of the Greek historian Diocles of Peparethus, who allegedly wrote an early history of Rome. Fabius was used as a source by Plutarch,[2] Polybius, Livy, and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, and his work had been translated into Latin by the time of Cicero.

Although Polybius uses his writings he does also accuse him of being biased towards the Romans and inconsistent.[3]

He dated the founding of Rome to be in the "first year of the eighth Olympiad" or 747 BC, according to Dionysius of Halicarnassus (Book I. ch. 74).


  1. ^ World Book Encyclopedia Vol. 7 (F), 1967 Edition, p. 2
  2. ^ Life of Romulus
  3. ^ Polybius, 1.14–15

Further reading[edit]

  • Du Rieu, Willem Nikolaas (1856) Disputatio de Gente Fabia; Accedunt Fabiorum Pictorum et Serviliani Fragmenta. Lugduni Batavorum: Van der Hoek, 1856.

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