Quintus Fabius Pictor

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(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Quintus Fabius Pictor (KWIHN-tuhs FAY-bee-uhs PIHK-tur) is called the first Roman historian. The name Pictor (“painter”) refers to a grandfather who painted the walls of a temple around 302 b.c.e. Fabius Pictor was a member of the senate who fought in the Second Punic War (218-201 b.c.e.) and went on an embassy to Delphi in 216 b.c.e. after Hannibal’s defeat of the Romans at Cannae. He wrote in Greek because that was the language of the world, but he also intended to present the Romans to the Greek world and convey Roman ideals. His history of Rome (now lost) started with stories from the founding of the city and continued up until his own time.


(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Fabius Pictor made Rome known to the to the Greek world. His work was used by Polybius in his writings of the First and Second Punic Wars, although he was criticized by Polybius for his pro-Roman bias that Hannibal and his family were responsible for the Second Punic War. Fabius was also quoted by Livy.

Additional Resources

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Hadas, M. A History of Latin Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 1952.

Hornblower, S., and A. Spawforth, eds. The Oxford Classical Dictionary. 3d ed. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Mellor, Ronald. The Roman Historians. New York: Routledge, 1999.