By Eric W. Cochrane
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And in order to prepare himself to execute what he had learned, he composed, in 1484, a brief account of the principal political and cultural events of Florence and Italy from 1448 to 1483, the Anna/es Suorum Ternporwn. 88 None of these chronicles was intended to do much more than provide raw material from which the authors might eventually construct a work of history. Palmieri consciously limited his scope to "what was done and how"; and Buonincontri found modern society so much more complex than ancient society that he dared only list 25 The Birth of Humanist Historiography the res gestae without putting them into any sort of coherent order.
And, if it were my happy lot to possess them entire, from what other great names would I not seek solace for my wretched existence. "56 . The early humanists lacked neither the ability nor the desire to write history. What they lacked was the recognition that other times and other places than those of the ancient Greeks and Romans were worth writing about. That defect could not be remedied until humanism, which had resurrected ancient historiography, could be brought together with communal patriotism, which had engendered the chronicle.
59 Finally, he found in Polybius a means of compensating for the loss of most of those books of Livy which describe the Punic wars. He therefore reduced all the surviving narrative books of Polybius to a simple chronology of events. He added whatever other information he could find in Valerius Antiatus, Plutarch, Florus, and Orosius. 61 Nor was it mere translation, notwithstanding the practice of some modern librarians who catalogue the books under the name of the chief source. 62 Rather, it was a succinct record of all that the ancients, or at least those of the ancients whose works were then available, had transmitted about i8 FLORENCE the political affairs of three little-known ages of antiquity.