Presents Nepos as a thinker in his own right

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The Roman writer Cornelius Nepos was a friend of Cicero and Catullus and other first-century BCE authors, and portions of his encyclopedic work On Famous Men are the earliest surviving biographies written in Latin. In The Political Biographies of Cornelius Nepos, Rex Stem presents Nepos as a valuable witness to the late Republican era, whose biographies share the exemplary republican political perspective of his contemporaries Cicero and Livy. Stem argues that Nepos created the genre of grouped political biographies in order to characterize renowned Mediterranean figures as role models for Roman leaders, and he shows how Nepos invested his biographies with moral and political arguments against tyranny.

This book, the first to regard Nepos as a serious thinker in his own right, also functions as a general introduction to Nepos, placing him in his cultural context. Stem examines Nepos' contributions to the growth of biography, and he defends Nepos from his critics at the same time that he lays out the political significance and literary innovation of Nepos' writings. Accessible to advanced undergraduates, this volume is addressed to a general audience of classicists and ancient historians, as well as those broadly interested in biography, historiography, and political thought.

Rex Stem is Assistant Professor of Classics, University of California, Davis.

"This will now be the book on Nepos, and will also make an important contribution more generally to the scholarship on the literature of late republican Rome and to the growing body of work on ancient biography as a genre."
—Judith Mossman, University of Nottingham

- Judith Mossman, University of Nottingham

"This excellent book has a clear argument, which is cumulatively built from start to end, and which seeks to revise substantially the scholarly consensus on Nepos. At the same time, it provides a concise introduction to Nepos and will become required reading for all interested in the author."
—Timothy Duff, University of Reading

- Timothy Duff, University of Reading

"Stem's most significant achievement is to demonstrate that the common criticism of Nepos as an imprecise historian is misguided. Stem rehabilitates Nepos by placing both him and his On Foreign Generals in their social, historical, and literary context."

- M.J. Johnson, Vanderbildt University

"This is a well-written, and learned account, with substantial footnotes and a consistent argument, recuperating the intellectual project of Nepos in the context of it's own time."
-- Christopher Smith 

- Christopher Smith