This paper considers the challenges involved for historians in negotiating the temporal gap between a violent event, such as an assassination, and their own subsequent representation of this moment. If the assassination of a central protagonist is inevitable, what techniques can a historian use to maintain a sense of moral complexity and to sustain an audience's interest? Analysis of specific case studies, Tacitus's account of Galba's assassination in A.D. 69 (Histories 1.36-43) and Appian's narrative of Julius Caesar's murder in 44 B.C. (Civil Wars 2.111-17), demonstrates how historians deploy a range of creative rhetorical techniques to maintain tension. The paper argues that, while the trope of foreshadowing has its place in such narratives, the devices of "sideshadowing" and "backshadowing" also have the potential to add complexities, generate suspense, and point up moralism.
Arethusa 39.2 (2006)