Lucius Cincius Alimentus

For the Augustan antiquarian, see Cincius. For others named Cincius, see Cincia (gens).

Lucius Cincius Alimentus was a celebrated Roman annalist and jurist, who was praetor in Sicily in 209 BC, with the command of two legions.[1] He wrote principally in Greek.[2] He and Fabius Pictor are considered the first two Roman historians, though both wrote in Greek as a more conventionally literary language.[3] Cincian Law, which forbade the acceptance of pay for legal services, takes its name from his proposal of the legislation.[4]

Among his works is an account of his imprisonment in the Second Punic War, and a biography of the philosopher Gorgias, though these works probably formed part of his Annals.[5] His objectivity was praised by Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Polybius, and he was frequently cited by the historian Festus.[6]

Cincius Alimentus was captured in one of the early battles of the Second Punic War and spent years as a prisoner of the Carthaginians under Hannibal, who, for some reason, confided in Alimentus the details of his crossing of the Alps. He transcribed this tale after his release, and the information found its way into the chronicles of many later Roman historians.[7]

The distinguished historian of Rome Barthold Georg Niebuhr praised Alimentus, early in the 19th century, as a critical investigator of antiquity, who threw light on the history of his country by researches among its ancient monuments.[8] In particular, Alimentus has a far less triumphal account of the early relations between the Romans and the early Latins than most historians. One of the fragments of Alimentus which survives, dates the founding of Rome as 729/728 BC (the 4th year of the 12th Olympiad); Niebuhr accounted for the difference by supposing that both Alimentus and the other annalists found a record dating the foundation 132 ten-month years before the reign of Tarquin the Elder, who changed the calendar; Niebuhr supposed that Alimentus converted this to 110 twelve-month years before calculating the epoch.

Among the works attributed to Alimentus are a treatise De Officio Jurisconsulti, containing at least two books; one book De Verbis priscis; one De Consulum Potestate, one De Comitiis, one De Fastis, two, at least, Mystagogicon, and several De Re Militari. In the latter work he handles the subjects of military levies, of the ceremonies of declaring war, and generally of the Jus Fetiale.[9][10][11][12][13] Some of these titles have been attributed instead to Cincius the antiquarian, who wrote some 200 years later under Augustus, and some scholars think both Cincii are in fact the same writer.[14]

See also


  1. Graves, John Thomas (1867). "Alimentus, L. Cincius". In William Smith. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 1. Boston: Little, Brown and Company. pp. 131–132.
  2. Breisach, Ernst (2007). Historiography: Ancient, Medieval and Modern. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 44–45. ISBN 0-226-07283-5.
  3. T.P. Wiseman, Clio's Cosmetics (Bristol Phoenix Press, 2003, originally published 1979 by Leicester University Press), p. 9.
  4. Will Durant, Caesar and Christ (1944). Simon & Schuster. p. 32
  5. Livy, Ab urbe condita xxi. 38
  6. Conte, Gian Biagio (1999). Latin Literature. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 69–70. ISBN 0-8018-6253-1.
  7. Prevas, John (2001). Hannibal Crosses the Alps. Da Capo Press. pp. 71–72. ISBN 0-306-81070-0.
  8. Barthold Georg Niebuhr, i. p. 272
  9. Aulus Gellius, Noctes Atticae xvi. 4.
  10. Voss., Hist. Gr. iv. 13.
  11. Voss. Hist. Lat. i. 4.
  12. F. Lachmann, De Fontib. Histor. Tit. Livii Com. i. 17, 4to. 1822
  13. Zimmern, Röm. Rechts-gesch. i. § 73.
  14. J.G.F. Powell, "Dialogues and Treatises," in A Companion to Latin Literature, edited by Stephen Harrison (Blackwell, 2005), p. 229 online.

 This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed. (1870). "article name needed". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. 

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