Ancient Historians: A Student Handbook by Susan Sorek

By Susan Sorek

The old historians weren't regularly target or actual, and their intentions for writing have been very assorted from these of recent historians. This introductory consultant is helping to resolve many of the problems excited by facing old resource fabric, putting the paintings of historical historians in its political, social and old context for the modern reader. The chapters survey the entire significant historians whose works are encountered in general through scholars in the course of their interval of research, together with Herodotus, Thucydides, Sallust and Livy, in addition to extra minor Greek and Roman historians. additional chapters determine works of biography and literature as ancient resource fabric. Alexander the good, the topic of a number of works of heritage, biography and fiction, presents an enlightening case examine in historic historiography. Timelines of significant old occasions will position the writers inside of their old context, and every bankruptcy encompasses a complete bibliography for ease of reference.

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The most elaborate tale is Rhampsinitus and the Thieves (Book II:121) which stretched the credulity of his successors and insulted them by the fact that they should have been expected to consider this as historical material. Modern historians have agreed in part with this assessment, for in the modern sense of the word ‘historian’ Herodotus left much to be desired. Nevertheless, the modern reader can be grateful to Herodotus for preserving this glimpse into the past by recounting the stories that were circulating at the time and so giving us an idea of how 22 Ancient Historians the ancients related to the world in which they lived.

But in fairness to Thucydides, when he had any clue to the tenor of the speech he drew on that rather than merely inventing his own version. One example is the speech given by the great Athenian statesman Pericles. The speech known as the ‘Funeral Oration’ was supposedly delivered during the first year of the war (Book II:34–6). A later Greek historian, Dionysius of Halicarnassus (first century bce), questioned the validity of this speech and wondered why Thucydides had included it at all as, according to him, the occasion was neither a glorious nor a significant one.

Unlike Thucydides’, who provided no biographical accounts, Xenophon can be viewed as a pioneer in this field. Although he was capable of distinguishing between history and eulogy, his study of Cyrus and his hero-worshipping of Aegislaus make his descriptions of individuals a little over-idealized. But Xenophon was also a believer in divine providence and this compelled him to see, in the final fall of Sparta to the Thebans under Epaminondas in 371 bce, the punishment inflicted by heaven on the treacherous policy that had prompted the seizure by Sparta of the Cadmea and the raid of Sphodrias.

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