THE AUTHORSHIP OF THE HISTORIA AUGUSTA: TWO NEW COMPUTATIONAL STUDIES

THE AUTHORSHIP OF THE HISTORIA AUGUSTA: TWO NEW COMPUTATIONAL STUDIES

THE AUTHORSHIP OF THE HISTORIA AUGUSTA: TWO NEW COMPUTATIONAL STUDIES

The case of the Historia Augusta, a collection of imperial biographies from Hadrian preciso Carus supposedly written by six different authors, provided the impetus for the introduction of computational methods into the Echtheitskritik of ancient authors mediante 1979. After verso flurry of studies mediante the 1990s, interest waned, particularly because most of those studies seemed to support conclusions incompatible with the scholarly consensus on the question. Durante the paper, we approach tagliandi mocospace this question with the new tool of authorship verification – one of the most promising approaches con forensic stylometry today – as well as the established method of principal components analysis to demonstrate that there is mai simple alternative between scapolo and multiple authorship, and that the results of a computational analysis are in fact compatible with the results obtained from historical, literary, and philological analysis.

The Historia Augusta (henceforth HA) is per collection of biographies of Roman emperors stretching from Hadrian (AD 117–138) to Carus (AD 282–283) and his sons Carinus (AD 283–285) and Numerian (AD 283–284).1 1 Justin Stover would like preciso thank George Woudhuysen for helpful suggestions. We are both grateful esatto the editors for accepting this paper and the anonymous referees for many helpful suggestions. The code and texts for this paper can be found sopra the following repository: The lives purport esatto be written by six different authors, Aelius Spartianus, pridius, Trebellius Pollio, and Flavius Vopiscus, working under the Emperors Diocletian (AD 284–305) and Constantine (AD 306–337). For much of the period it covers, the HA represents the only extended narrative source, and the testimony it offers can be invaluable. Unfortunately, the HA is also famous for its bizarre details and puzzling omissions, as well as its lurid focus on emperors’ peccadilloes and personal habits sicuro the detriment of their political accomplishments. It also notoriously includes documents – speeches, letters, laws – which are almost certainly fabricated by the author(s), and cites per whole host of authors nowhere else attested, and probably invented.2 2 See L. Homo, ‘Les documents de l’Histoire Bouffon et leur valeur historique’, RH 151 (1926) 161–198 and 152 (1926) 1–31. But the problem of the HA is not only its unreliability as an historical source: it also includes throughout troubling anachronisms, mentions of office and titles that only came into being durante the middle of the fourth century, decades after the supposed dates of its composition. Per 1889, Hermann Dessau put forth the provocative thesis that the HA was sopra fact the rete informatica of per solo author working under the reign of Theodosius (AD 379–395), and that division of the lives between six authors and their dedications puro Diocletian and Constantine were merely verso literary ploy.3 3 H. Dessau, ‘Uber Zeit und Personlichkeit der Scriptores Historiae Augustae’, Hermes 24 (1889) 337–92. Ronald Syme – the most influential exponent of the Dessau thesis – would famously term the author ‘per rogue grammaticus’.4 4 R. Syme, Ammianus and the Historia Augusta (Oxford 1968) 207.

1. Per computational solution?

As early as the late 1970s, it was realized that this question of single or multiple authorship sopra per campione offered verso perfect collaudo case for statistical methods of authorship attribution. Ian Marriott conducted verso groundbreaking analysis, published sopra the Journal of Roman Studies durante 1979, which suggested that computational analysis indicated single authorship of the corpus.5 5 I. Marriott, ‘The authorship of the Historia Augusta: two pc studies’, JRS 69 (1979) 65–77. This was per seminal application of forensic stylometry, as developed by Mosteller and Wallace, puro a Latin text.6 6 F. Mosteller and D. Wallace, Inference and disputed authorship: the Federalist (Cambridge, Tuttavia 1964). Unfortunately, his analysis was marred by methodological errors, particularly the use of sentence length as verso criterion of authorship, which is in nessun caso longer considered an effective stylometric feature even for modern texts, and should definitely not be used for ancient texts, where the punctuation is paio sicuro the modern editor.7 7 D. Sansone, ‘The computer and the Historia Augusta: verso note on Marriott’, JRS 80 (1990) 174–77. For the correlative poor successo of di nuovo.g. average sentence or length, consult the extensive comparative evaluation reported in: J. Grieve, ‘Quantitative authorship attribution: an evaluation of techniques’, LLC 22 (2007) 251–70.

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