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List of first century authors

References 003

We do not claim the below list is complete, but we feel confident that it gives a fair overview of the literary legacy of the first century of the Common Era. From what we so far have been able to find, all of it online, the list results in 166 authors. It is presented in a most rudimentary form. Please refer to the notes after the list for some clarifications and nuances. If you find that we omitted a known author from this period, feel free to email us. We appreciate feedback and are happy to expand this list when needed.


Notes and comments on the list


We used a variety of sources to compile this list, but mentioning them all would turn this post in an undigestible tract. Most, if not all authors can be found on Wikipedia, even if they do not all have their own page dedicated to them. Typing in the name in Google's search bar will probably yield some or more of the sources we used ourselves.


As you see, birth years are often given in a negative form. A -9 year is simply 9 BC. We used this format in our Excel sheet as source for this list for filtering and sorting purposes, Many of the years are noted in red, as are all birth years '0' and 99. There is of course no year zero, again this was used to eliminate blanks for sorting purposes, while both the zero and 99 years are used to indicate that no reasonable estimates have been provided by the source pages on the authors. In a few cases we were able to give our own estimate, based on subsequent sources used by Wikipedia itself or by the occasional reference found in other databanks (such as Project Gutenberg's online library), but we kept such dates equally in red to indicate that they are mere estimates. To one extent or another, even when a specific year is given and noted in black, many of these still are estimates. Most of those obviously have been narrowed down fairly precise based on the surviving sources. None the less, we don't claim this list to be authoritative. Our intent is merely to give any interested party an overview of what is readily available.


This applies to the authors themselves. The list includes authors of whom we know they wrote and published works, but whose work no longer exists. Of those, some have been cited in other works, whether contemporary or later; of others we don't even have the smallest citation or reference other than the name. Conversely, we included unknown authors of surviving works, for if we didn't, we'd have to exclude all of the most influential literature from the period.


Another consideration we had to take into account in some cases, is whether an author born in the first century but not writing before the second, should be included in this list. Our approach in this regard was to look at the time of publication of the work, or the time that it was referenced by other authors. A related criterion is whether the author would have been able to produce a letter, play or medical treatise. We considered that any author would have needed quite a few years of education to produce any literature and decided on an age of 20 years old. Spite the former, we are aware that nothing precludes an author to be capable of writing at a younger age. We know this to be the case for Ovid and emperor Claudius for instance, but they do seem to be the exception rather than rule. This does leave quite a few instances where this is not always so clear. Given the former, there is nothing wrong with considering an author like Juvenal both a first and second century author either. If we were to compile a similar list for the second century, we'd probably recycle some names from this one. Publication dates of the works left by these authors are of course often subject to their own debates and disputes. Again, by opting for one or the other date we do not claim unchallengeable authority. Sometimes we just simply had to cut some Gordian knots to make this list possible.


Compiling this list took us quite some time and by itself it may seem like a lot of leads and material to go over and into. None the less, the result of 166 known authors brutally reminded us that what little we have left of this period is nothing short of a cultural catastrophe. Even with a lower literacy rate of those times, and taking the lower end population estimate of the Roman Empire around 14 AD of 40 million people, a figure of 166 authors is not even a thousandth of a percent! We wouldn't dare to give an estimate of the actual number of authors alive during the first century, but we are deeply saddened by the realization that the amount of knowledge, correspondence, plays, poetry and general historical information that could be derived from the now lost writers is absolutely mind blowing. We will try to vent our sadness about this aspect in a separate post. In contrast therewith, we hope that you can make use of our list to your own joy.



DPA/RD/PF, 29 June 2022












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