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The histories of History

This presentation includes images and notes related to lectures given in HIS2391B.

K Rollwagen

on 23 January 2013

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Transcript of The histories of History

History in Ancient Greece and Rome, early Roman Empire The Histories of History 1 800 BC O Trojan War -- early 12th century BC The Histories of History 2 History in the Middle Ages and Early Modern Period Homer -- the first historian? - Homer's works emphasize continuity

- of the gods and their relationship to men
- of the greatness of Greek heroes Herodotus (5th century BC) The Histories written between 450 and 420 BC

"Father of History"

- Events narrated with reference to evidence
- recounted the geography of distant lands, the habits and lives of "new" people “I am bound to tell what I have been told, but not in every case to believe it.” Thucydides (4th century BC) The History of the Peloponnesian War

- studied events that occurred within his lifetime (contemporary)
- Peloponnesian war between Athens and Sparta was between 431 and 404 BC
- assumed there were patterns and forces shaping events Cautioned his readers “not to put more reliance in the exaggerated embellishments of the poets; or in the tales of chroniclers who composed their works to please the ear rather than to speak the truth. Their accounts cannot be tested; the lapse of ages has made them in general unreliable, and they have passed into the region of romance.” (The Peloponnesian Wars 1, p.21). 480 BC -- beginning of Pericles "Golden Age" (Greece) 509 BC -- beginning of Roman Republic 390 BC -- sack of Rome Gaius Sallustius Crispus (Sallust), (1st century BC) “Writing history is a difficult job: in the first place because what you put down has to correspond exactly to the facts; and secondly because if you permit yourself to criticize any wrongdoing, most of your readers will think that you are malevolent, or even envious.” 44 BC -- Death of Julius Caesar Polybius (3rd and 2nd centuries, BC) Histories - searched for causes of Roman "greatness"
- history to teach lessons, focus on politics and the military
- wrote in Greek, little read Eusebius of Caesarea (3rd and 4th centuries AD) Chronicle

- applied a single chronology to past events
- first to combine secular and Christian sources
- useful reference for contemporary and future scholars
- "spatium historicum" -- inserted information about events and people between the columns of dates and reigns
- tells us what was important/significant to Eusebius 330 AD -- Constantinople becomes capital of Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) Procopius of Casarea
(6th century) The Wars, Secret History - secretary to a general in Justinian's Constantinople His achievements:

- attention to details -- numbers and dates
- valued narration (storytelling; lively language)
- used only first-hand sources ...“cleverness is the province of oratory, creativity of poetry, but truth of history. Therefore [I] have not hidden the faults even of [my] closest friends, but have accurately recorded everything that chanced to be done by everyone, whether it was good or not.” Take-away concepts - historical writing characterized by:
- focus on warfare, politics, religion (a bit)
- historians writing about events they witnessed
- looking for human causes of events
- desire for accuracy and truth
- saw different purposes for history 600 1800 1200 622 -- Muhammad (570-632) arrives in Medina 800 -- Charlemagne crowned Holy Roman Emperor 1095 -- beginning of the Crusades 1494 --
French invasion of Florence 1666 -- Fire of London Two views of history in the Enlightenment Progress 1347 -- beginning of first epidemic of plague - philosophes advocated the application of reason to all aspects of life
"I will believe that my memory tells me lies, and that none of the things that it reported ever happened."
- reason based on experience, the senses
- no Truth in history
- not all past experience was worth recording
- humanity governed by immutable and natural laws -- what role for history? Nicholas de Condorcet 1743-94 He was a French philosopher and mathematician,
a proponent of democracy, universal education, abolition, equal rights for women Sketch for a Historical Picture of the Progress of the Human Spirit - argued that expanding scientific and humanistic knowledge had led to an ever-more just world of freedom, peace, affluence
- the past revealed a pattern of human progress towards a more perfect society
- humans moved from potentially rational to actually rational What happens to our view of the past when it is interpreted this way? The Venerable Bede (7th - 8th century) The Venerable Bieb? - monk in Northumberland
- influenced by Eusebius
- wrote the first history of Christian England, from Caesar's invasion in 55 BC
- the story of the English "rise" from paganism to Christianity
- history as instructing and edifying The Ecclesiastical History of the English People William of Newburgh (12th century) History of English Affairs - story of English history between 1066 and 1198
- was a dispassionate narrator
- did not write admiringly about kings or royalty
- skeptical of many of his contemporaries
- sought to discredit some accounts, particularly those of Arthur
- he also included references to demons 1066 -- Norman invasion Ibn Kaldun
(14th century) - scholar and politician in Tunis
- rigorous source criticism
-principles for evaluating relevant historical material
- develop a theory of social conflict and cohesion to explain history
- Muslim historiography began as biography Book of Evidence (seven volumes) Francesco Guicciardini (15th - 16th centuries) - lived in Renaissance Florence
- inspired by Thucydides' political realism
- history as a record of crime and misfortune, self-interest History of Italy rebirth rediscovery of ancients embracing classical art and architecture humanity at the centre Bollandists
(17th century) Acta Sanctorum
(Lives of the Saints) - Jesuit scholars engaged in philology
- gathering an verifying documents about saints "For if history records the good things of men, the thoughtful hearer is encouraged to imitate what is good; if it records evil things of wicked men, the good religious listener or reader is encouraged to avoid all that is sinful and perverse, and to follow what he knows to be good and pleasing to God." The Cultural Cycle Gods Heroes Men Vico's three stages: - prehistoric, infancy - ancient, youth - modern, mature Giambattista Vico (1668-1744) New Science
- anti-Cartesian Take-away concepts - Christian desire for universal history shaped chronicles
- little authorship or interpretation
- increasing diversity of thought, religion, experience, knowledge challenged Christian historiography
- Renaissance admiration for ancients led to history in the Thucydidean mode (politics, war)
- historians joined universities and Academies as teachers of legal and political history and philologists
- Enlightenment thinkers challenged value of history
- erudite historians paid little attention
- Progress became a popular mode of interpreting the past
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