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I'm operating off of fuzzy memory here and I’m unable to find the source of this passage. Some time ago, I read a passage from some ancient Roman writer that went something like this:

He came and he brought with him (paper) rolls with written historical events laid down in a manner so you could see them all together and compare the events

The receiver (of the paper rolls) might be a Roman emperor, or someone related to emperor’s teaching: maybe Hadrian, Marcus Aurelius, or similar emperors.

  • I remember a fuzzy concept of “paper rolls”, “table format” or “events in different columns”.
  • I remember the text was a letter, or similar. There were only 2 people involved.
  • I remember it was casual talk, like you talk to a friend that brought/sent something interesting at home.

That’s it. I cannot recall more info than that. I’ve checked Memoirs of Hadrian (by Yourcenar), and Marcus Aurelius letters too. The passage is certainly not there. Maybe in similar texts.

Any clues on how to find this passage and the author are welcome.

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  • This sentence could not be written by a Roman writer since paper was invented in China, and was not produced or used in the Roman empire. So the sentence comes either from a modern author, or is a bad translation of some Roman source. One of the well-known popular authors of historical novels (Robert Graves) consciously modernizes his terminology, and I remember seeing "paper", and other modern words (like "general", "admiral") in his novels.
    – Alex
    May 8, 2022 at 12:01
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    This was a "fuzzy memory" of a passage "that went something like this". I don't think that questioning the precise wording is likely to be useful -- we need to focus on the gist.
    – Mark Olson
    May 8, 2022 at 14:47
  • You are correct Alex, I remember the "rolls" part, but not the paper. I added it though since rolls alone is unclear.
    – James
    May 9, 2022 at 8:15
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    Could show some context, please? In and of itself, why would such a general passage be attributed to a single writer and how could the attribution matter? May 13, 2022 at 20:56
  • Any further clues yet? Sounds like a novice describing 'first insights into historiography'—IE quite a novelty for the writer of the passage? Was it a Roman author (or Greek), one about such people (like an 'old Roman', republic, 'learning the Greek way'?) From these I get the feeling of either 'very old' or not about imperial Romans self-description? May 14, 2022 at 12:22

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