Quintus Fabius Pictor

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Quintus Fabius Pictor (flourished c. 200 BC; his birth has been estimated around 270 BC[1]) was the earliest Roman historian and is considered the first of the annalists. He was a member of the Senate, and a member of the gens Fabia


Based on his filiation, Fabius was the son of the consul of 269 BC, Gaius Fabius Pictor and grandson of Gaius Fabius Pictor, surnamed 'the Painter' (pictor in Latin). His career included fighting against the Gauls in 225 BC, and witnessing some if not all of 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.

His History[edit]

Fabius wrote in Greek, but his work has not survived, and is known to us only through quotations and allusions in later authors. Although he is sometimes referred to as an annalist, it is not in fact clear whether his history was annalistic in form (i.e. narrated events year by year). Fabius used the records 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 on Carthage, especially the Barca family of Hamilcar and Hannibal. He dated the founding of Rome to be in the "first year of the eighth Olympiad" or 747 BC, according to Dionysius of Halicarnassus.[2]

Fabius drew on the writings of the Greek historians Diocles of Peparethus, who allegedly wrote an early history of Rome, and Timaeus, who had written about Rome in his history of the Western Greeks. In turn, Fabius was used as a source by Plutarch,[3] Polybius, Livy, and Dionysius of Halicarnassus. By the time of Cicero his work had been translated into Latin.

Although Polybius used him as a source, he also accuses Fabius of being biased towards the Romans and inconsistent.[4]


  1. ^ Frier, Bruce W., Libri Annales Pontificum Maximorum University of Michigan Press, 2nd edition 1999, p. 231
  2. ^ Dionysius, Roman Antiquities, I.74
  3. ^ Life of Romulus
  4. ^ 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.
  • Cornell, T. J. (ed.) (2013) The Fragments of the Roman Historians, 3 volumes. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013

External links[edit]