Francis Cairns Publications

ARCA Classical and Medieval Texts, Papers and Monographs ISSN 0309-5541

The Fragmentary Classicising Historians of the Later Roman Empire.
Eunapius, Olympiodorus, Priscus and Malchus

R.C. Blockley

The historical works of the fifth-century AD classicising historians originally covered the years from the death of Claudius II in 270 to the death of Zeno in 491, a period which saw the dismemberment of the western Roman Empire and the transformation of the eastern portion into the Byzantine Empire. These writers now survive only in fragmentary and indirect form. R.C. Blockley’s Fragmentary Classicising Historians has become an indispensable source and resource for students and scholars in this increasingly popular field of study, which offers an illuminating background to understanding current events in the near- and middle-eastern region.

Vol. I

ARCA 6. 978-0-905205-51-9. 1st publ. 1981. Paper repr., 2009. xii+196 pp. £50 / $75
[Cloth, 978-0905205-07-6. Out of  print]

R.C. Blockley's reasoned arrangement of the fragments in this volume constitutes a work of absolutely fundamental importance for historians of the period. Part one analyzes the background, opinions and historiography of each of the four writers, with particular emphasis on recovering from the fragments the original structure of their works. Part two presents an annotated conspectus of the fragments, based on close study of all relevant writings, ancient and modern.

Although this volume was originally conceived as a stand-alone monograph, it was obvious that the texts themselves in the Blockley order should be made available. Professor Blockley achieved this with Volume II, published separately in 1983, which contains the Greek texts, facing English translation, and historiographical notes.

Vol. II. Text, Translation and Historiographical Notes

ARCA 10. 978-0-905205-49-6. 1st publ. 1983. Repr. paper 2007. x+515 pp. £75 / $112.50
[Cloth, 978-0-905205-15-4. Out of print]

This volume is the much larger companion to Roger Blockley's similarly-titled monograph, published in 1981. The earlier volume gave a commented conspectus of the fragments, and essays on the individual historians. In vol. II the texts themselves are printed, with English translations and historiographical notes. Included also is a correlation of Blockley's order with the older numbering of Müller, Dindorf and Niebuhr, and indices of names, places, quotations and citations.

This work, with the earlier monograph, has become a standard for the increasingly important study of the later Roman Empire.

ROGER BLOCKLEY is a professor at Carleton University, Ottawa. Besides FCHLRE, he has contributed two other important volumes in the field of late ancient history to the series ARCA: a text and commentary of The History of Menander the Guardsman (ARCA 17) and East Roman Foreign Policy (ARCA 30).


Vol. 1

Phoenix 37 (1983) 175-8 (Brian Croke): "Anyone who has worked closely with these historians will recognize immediately that the great strength of Blockley's book is that it is based on a thorough understanding and independent evaluation of the sources of the fragments. This in turn inspires confidence in his handling of the fragments themselves and his judgement on matters both large and small."

Revue des Etudes Byzantines 40 (1982) 248 (Albert Failler): "Composé dans une langue concise et claire, l'ouvrage de R.C. Blockley rassemble les données essentielles sur les quatre historiens des 4e et 5e siècles dont l'oeuvre est réduite à des courts fragments; il prépare le lecteur à une meilleure compréhension des textes conservés. Souhaitons que l'édition de ceux-ci soit accompagnée d'une traduction et d'un commentaire de même qualité."

JHS 104 (1984) 244-5 (R.D. Scott)

Eirene 22 (1985) 126-8 (Siegrid Weber)

Classical Review 33 (1983) 18-20 (Averil Cameron)

Gymnasium 91 (1984) 437-8 (Jan Burian)

Mnemosyne 37 (1984) 232-5 (A.B. Breebart): "One can only hope, that this important book will not be condemned to remain on the desk of a few specialists."

Reviews of vol. II

Phoenix 40 (1986) 118-20 (Brian Croke): "Volume 2 of Fragmentary Historians is an indispensable work which, particularly because of its translations, can be expected to increase the accessibility and encourage study of the historians concerned for both the serious scholar and the general student."

JHS 108 (1988) 238-9 (Roger Scott): "This volume was only conceived, at the request of the publisher, after what must now be regarded as its vol. I was completed. In reviewing that volume very favourably (JHS civ 1984, 244-5)... I concluded by saying that at least another volume was needed. Professor Blockley has now produced both this volume and Menander the Guardsman (1985), so answering almost all my prayers amply and handsomely." "... an extremely useful volume of sound scholarship."

Gymnasium 94 (1987) 90 (Jan Burian)