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Annales Maximi: Writing, Memory, And Religious Performance In The Roman Republic

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Chapter Summary

The annales maximi was the most important record kept by the pontiffs in the Roman Republic. A testimony from Cicero provides significant evidence pointing to the existence of record around 400 BC. It is unclear how the information written down on the board was stored and took the shape of eighty books. The reference to an album and tabula dealbata, in Cicero and in Servius respectively, could lead us to assume that the board was a temporary medium that every year was whitened and refilled with new information. Since the entries were not arranged by type or category of prodigy, the search of a particular case must have relied on human memory or on reading the entire record. Written by priests and containing prodigies, the annales maximi was a religious record. Based on the evidence of Cicero and Servius the tabula simply announced every remarkable event that happened in Rome.

Keywords: annales maximi; Cicero; memory; religious record; Roman Republic; tabula dealbata; writing

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