Talk:Ammianus Marcellinus

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The Loeb edition bears the inside title (after the 50pp of introductory material) "Ammiani Marcellini Rerum Gestarum libri qui supersunt". (The volume titles are merely "Ammianus Marcellinus", although they include no other work by him, since none has survived.) This inside title translates as "The books that survive of the Deeds/Acts/History of Ammian Marcellinus". Nowhere have I been able to find where this Latin "title" comes from; I can't remember reading or hearing anyone actually refer to AM's History as "Res Gestae", although that's a Latin phrase that can be translated history.

The "Divi Augustae" (sic), on the other hand, is a much clearer mistake; which should have been — so to speak — "Divi Augusti", although FWIW (not very much) one can find "RG Divi Augustae" online. Still, it's not right, and anyhow RGDA always refers to the piece of Augustan propaganda.

I'll revert the Loeb "Reference"; although my edition doesn't have the same ISBN numbers — prolly better to leave those off. --Bill 00:22, 4 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Shall we mention that although he is thought of as a bit of a critic of Christianity, and although his accounts of certain aspects of Julian's character and policies and so on are vaguely hagiographic - he did disagree with him at points, for example, Julian's edict banning Christian teachers from teaching the classics, can't remember Marcellinus' exact quote but he is pretty critical of that particular edict.

  • I enjoyed translating Ammianus in my school days and I still think he's a great writer, so I added a quote by another fan, more famous than me. Stammer 15:45, 3 November 2006 (UTC)

Rhythmic prose?[edit]

Should there not be some mention of the accent-based rhythmic prose employed by Ammianus? I am not myself qualified to discuss it in detail. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:01, 22 November 2007 (UTC)


Wouldn't it be this 'journalistic' tendency that makes him so valuable to someone like Gibbon? I'm confused why the tone suggests that it is necessarily a bad thing to write the facts without too much embellishment. —Preceding unsigned comment added by JoshNarins (talkcontribs) 21:29, 1 February 2008 (UTC)


The text includes the following: "In his description of the Empire —the exhaustion produced by excessive taxation, the financial ruin of the middle classes, the progressive decline in the morale of the army— we find an explanation for sack of Rome by the Visigoths only twenty years after his death."

Can anyone provide specific references on these various points?

Thanks. Jauchart (talk) 19:47, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

Ammianus Marcellinus & Libanius[edit]

In Epistula 1063 (dated 392), Libanius writes a letter to one Marcellinus who at the time of the letter is visiting Rome; this person has been identified with the historian (see, for example, PLRE & E.A. Thompson, The Historical Work of Ammianus Marcellinus). However, this identification has been challenged by several authorities: "G. W. Bowersock, reviewing The Roman Empire of Ammianus", in Journal of Roman Studies 80 (1990), 244-50; C. W. Fornara, "Studies in Ammianus Marcellinus, I: The letter of Libanius and Ammianus' connections with Antioch", Historia 41 (1992), 328-44; T. D. Barnes, "Ammianus Marcellinus and his world", Classical Philology 88 (1993), 55-70. A reply can be read by J. F. Matthews, "The Origin of Ammianus", Classical Quarterly, n.s 44 (1994), pp. 252-269. I'm in the process of reading these papers, so I'm unable to provide a summary of them in the article; I've added these sources in case I don't add this material to the article for whatever reason. (I do have a life, which comes before Wikipedia, so it is likely.) -- llywrch (talk) 20:42, 3 August 2013 (UTC)

Ammianus Marcellinus & Christianity[edit]

Marcellinus never explicitly stated his opinion about Christianity; that is, although a pagan he never said if Christianity was good or bad. Therefore, saying that he was "tolerant" is an opinion formed from a close reading of his text, & needs to be indicated thusly. However, a close reading shows his attitude about Christianity was complex--sometimes he is obviously ironic (such as the passage quoted), sometimes he appears to be tolerant--& thus is a source of controversy. -- llywrch (talk) 17:45, 9 August 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for all the work you have put into this article. I have made another attempt. I am trying to remove the false contrasts that the previous wording suggested. In particular, there's no contradiction between being pagan and being tolerant of Christianity; tolerance (mixed with varying degrees of respect and contempt) was the usual (not universal) attitude of Roman pagans. And there is also no contradiction between tolerance of monotheism and pointing out the genuine, public, and loud mutual loathing expressed by the various Christian sectaries of the time. To describe Ammianus's quite factual comment as "ironic" would be I suspect to commit OR, and I note that the Christian records of the time amply substantiate his point. I do take your point that Ammianus's tolerance is a judgement made by modern sources and I hope that I have left the text in a state that reflects this. Richard Keatinge (talk) 18:26, 9 August 2013 (UTC)
I figured your edit was simply meant to clean up my awkward style. However, there is a surprisingly wide spectrum of opinions about what Marcellinus' attitude towards Christianity was; this spectrum ranges from him being an actual Christian (the demands of the ancient historical genre forcing him to assume a pagan persona) to being deeply & darkly ironic, if not sarcastically hostile, toward Christianity. My edit was to give the reader (& hopefully a future contributor) a clue about that wide divergence of opinion. Hunt's paper in the Classical Quarterly surveys the views before offering his own analysis. If you're interested in Hunt's paper, use the "Email this user" link on my page & I'll send you a pdf of his article from JSTOR. -- llywrch (talk) 06:07, 11 August 2013 (UTC)
Thanks again. Indeed, I was trying to improve the style rather than correct your facts, and I'm sure we'll come up with a better formulation than mine. Richard Keatinge (talk) 10:10, 11 August 2013 (UTC)