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Pictor, born about B.C. 254, the first Roman who wrote an historical account of his country in Greek. This historian, called by Livy scriptorum antiquissimus, appears to have been ill qualified for the labour he had undertaken, either in point of judgment, fidelity, or research; and to his carelessness, more than even to the loss of monuments, may be attributed much of the uncertainty which to this day hangs over the early ages of Roman history. Fabius lived in the time of the Second Punic War. His family received its cognomen from Gaius Fabius, who, having resided in Etruria and there acquired some knowledge of the fine arts, painted with figures the temple of Salus, in the year B.C. 303. The historian was grandson of the painter. He served in the Second Punic War, and was present at the battle of Trasimenus. After the defeat at Cannae he was sent by the Senate to inquire from the oracle at Delphi what would be the issue of the war, and to learn by what supplications the wrath of the gods might be appeased. His annals commenced with the age of Aeneas, and brought down the relation of Roman affairs to the author's own time—that is, to the end of the Second Punic War. We are informed by Dionysius of Halicarnassus that, for the great proportion of the events which preceded his own age, Fabius Pictor had no better authority than tradition. He probably thought that if he had confined himself to what was certain in those early times, his history would have become dry, insipid, and incomplete. This may have induced him to adopt the myths which the Greek historians had invented concerning the origin of Rome, and to insert whatever he found in family traditions, however contradictory or uncertain. Dionysius has also given many examples of Pictor's improbable narratives, his inconsistencies, his negligence in investigating the truth of what he relates as facts, and his inaccuracy in chronology. In particular, as we are told by Plutarch in his life of Romulus, Fabius followed an obscure Greek author, Diocles, in his account of the foundation of Rome, and from this source have flowed all the stories concerning Mars, the Vestal, the Wolf, Romulus and Remus, etc. Polybius, who flourished shortly after those times, and was at pains to inform himself accurately concerning all the events of the Second Punic War, apologizes on one occasion for quoting Fabius as an authority. Livy quotes him eight times. The fragments are given by H. Peter in his Hist. Relliquiae, i. 5, 109. See also Schwegler, Römische Geschichte, i. 412; Mommsen, Römische Forschungen, ii. 279; H. Nissen in the Rheinisches Museum, xxii. 565; Harless, De Fabiis et Aufidiis Rerum Rom. Scriptoribus (Bonn, 1853); C. Peter, Zur Kritik d. Quellen d. ält. röm. Geschichte (Halle, 1879); Heydenreich, Fabius Pictor und Livius (Freiburg, 1878); and the article Livius.

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