History From Below

One of my favorite reflections on the act of writing was written by a late Roman historian, poet, and rhetorician from modern-day Bordeaux named Decimius Magnus Ausonius. Among many other works, he penned a treatise called the Fasti. In a note to his son, the author reflected on the act of picking and choosing historical events, and then putting them in order for a reader (15.1.5-8; trans. H.E.G. White):

sit tuus hic fructus, vigilatas accipe noctes:
obsequitur studio nostra lucerna tuo.
tu quoque venturos per longum consere Ianos,
ut mea digessit pagina praeteritos.

Be yours this fruit, take the produce of my night-watches:
my midnight oil burns in the service of your delight.
Do you, too, through a long life link together New Years yet to come,
as my page has set in order those gone by.

Those who know me know that I don’t sleep a lot and am…

View original post 622 more words