The Princeps Optimus : towards a new reading of Velleius Paterculus' history
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Abstract This thesis works towards a new reading ofVelleius Paterculus' survey of Roman history, published in AD 29 or 30. Modem scholarship has tended to condemn Velleius as historian and stylist. Though opinions have started to change in the last few decades, even the most recent works generally treat him as a passive and perhaps unconscious conveyor of Roman cultural ideals and Augustan ideology. This thesis argues that the historian is, in fact, manipulating these themes to make definite political points. It focuses on the negativity of the history's conclusion as it stands in stark contrast to the preceding narrative celebrating the principates of Augustus and Tiberius. The thesis tentatively concludes that Velleius was trying to express concern over Rome's future, and specifically to influence Tiberius to return to Rome from his retreat on the island of Capri and curb the power of his "assistant," Sejanus.