Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2013

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 07/03/2020

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In


First Advisor

Gibson, Craig A.

First Committee Member

Finamore, John F.

Second Committee Member

Green, Carin

Third Committee Member

Storey, Glenn

Fourth Committee Member

Ketterer, Robert


Only two ancient historians have written comprehensive histories of Rome that survive in more than fragments, Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, both working in the years after Augustus came to power. Of the original twenty books of Dionysius' Roman Antiquities, which covered the history of Rome from pre-history to the beginning of the First Punic War, we have the first ten, substantial parts of the eleventh and fragments of the rest. But although Dionysius has been well received for his works of literary criticism, his historical work has been comparatively neglected. There are two recent commentaries on selected portions of the Antiquities, but only one commentary for a complete book, an unpublished dissertation commentary for Book I. A French translation with notes exists for Books 1 and 2, but the notes, though useful, are intended for the general reader, not the scholarly community. Dionysius' history, which parallels the work of his greater contemporary Livy, deserves more attention, hence this dissertation, a scholarly commentary on Book II of the Roman Antiquities covering the reigns of Romulus and Numa, the first two kings of Rome.

The purpose of this dissertation is, simply stated, to give a scholarly explanation of the text, to elucidate matters of interest to a careful reader. The method used (again, simply stated) was to carefully read the text and ask the basic question: what does this passage mean? Other questions followed. The result is primarily an explication of antiquarian, historical and historiographical matters; textual and linguistic matters were rarely considered.

The antiquarian and historical explications are useful for promoting a further understanding of early Roman history. But the examination of Dionysius' historiography shows other points of interest which include the following: Dionysius is adept at thematic development, for example of realistic narrative detail in contrast to Livy's artistic idealization of the Roman experience; in important ways he exhibits a historiography that differs from Livy's, as when he portrays early Rome as cautious, moderate and somewhat defensive in contrast to Livy's confident and aggressive city on the way to fulfilling a pre-ordained glory. The book contains numerous evidences of Augustan influence, and includes Dionysius' thoughts on the use of myth in historical writing. The most significant discovery is that the entire book is the most comprehensive description we have in antiquity of an actual, not theoretical, constitution as Dionysius understood and presented it; that Dionysius thought of the Roman constitution as the creation of Rome's first two kings, who based it upon Socratic virtues; and that he describes a working constitution as no other writer of antiquity did, integrating the virtues into an enduring system of laws and customs that goes beyond a mere rehearsal of ordinances in place at any given time. It is hoped that this commentary will prompt further research and insight into the historical and literary world in which Dionysius worked.


Commentary, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Historiography, Roman History


vii, 301 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 285-301).


Copyright © 2013 Charlou Koenig

Available for download on Friday, July 03, 2020

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