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Memoria and Historia:
Our Memories Become Our History
The Latin words historia and memoria approximate the English words history and memory but the interpretation of the words is both different and similar.

Historia means inquiry and describes the act of looking into the past, rather than the actual events of the past themselves. Memoria is the act of recording those events, either by remembering, writing them down or by depicting them in art. The root of memoria is the verb “to warn,” implying that looking into the past can serve as a cautionary lesson. Professor Alain Gowing in his book Empire and Memory: The Representation of the Roman Republic in Imperial Culture examines the close relationship between the two words in Roman thought and shows how memory and history serve to inform the present.

Is the aim of history to tell the truth or, as Cicero declared, is it acceptable to exaggerate the truth in the service of a greater truth? Professor Gowing explores how Roman authors and historians from the Empire, such as Seneca and Tacitus, recalled the stories of the Republic, and sets out the ways in which history and memory were reshaped and adapted to accommodate the imperatives of their own times.










Individual memory and personal history may also be malleable entities, as the books in this section demonstrate. In these moving and powerful works, the artists here offer intimate explorations into what is nuanced and emotional territory.




Empire and Memory:
The Representation of the Roman Republic in Imperial Culture

Alain M. Gowing













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