The Oxford History of Historical Writing: Volume 1: Beginnings to AD 600

The Oxford History of Historical Writing: Volume 1: Beginnings to AD 600

Language: English

Pages: 672

ISBN: 0198737807

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The Oxford History of Historical Writing is a five-volume series that explores representations of the past from the beginnings of writing to the present day and from all over the world. Volume I offers essays by leading scholars on the development and history of the major traditions of historical writing, including the ancient Near East, Classical Greece and Rome, and East and South Asia from their origins until c. AD 600. It provides both an authoritative survey of the field and an unrivalled opportunity to make cross-cultural comparisons.

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orators’ desire to please their audience. Rhetoric was not only an important influence on the rise of Greek historiography, but it was also a competitor in the field of newly arising prose genres against which the historians, in many regards, defined their new way of commemorating the past. ‘GENRES IN DIALOGUE’: HISTORIOGR APHY AND PLATO My argument that Herodotus and Thucydides take a critical stance toward rhetoric suggests a comparison of historiography with another prose genre that emerged only

the visitor to read and copy the text and the decoration.38 Here, traditional functions of the tomb are transmuted to some extent into a monument 35 The Tale of Sinuhe and Other Ancient Egyptian Poems, 1940–1640 BC, trans. R. B. Parkinson (Oxford, 1997), 288–9. 36 ‘The Capture of Joppa’, trans. Edward F. Wente, Jr. in Simpson (ed.), The Literature of Ancient Egypt, 72–4. 37 James F. Romano, The Luxor Museum of Ancient Egyptian Art (Mainz, 1979), no. 117, with Jaromir Malek, Egypt: 4000 Years of

bc), the crypts for storage of cult equipment bear reliefs and inscriptions related to their contents. These include references to Khufu, the builder of the Great Pyramid (fourth dynasty, c.2550), the sixthdynasty king Pepy I (c.2300–2250), and Thutmose III. The inscription mentioning the latter two is laid out as if it were a copy of an archaic text distinct from surrounding inscriptions. 40 While some of its content is comparable with the pedigrees in magical texts, objects bearing the name of

known as symposia, which for centuries constituted an important feature of elite Greek male culture, both testing and reaffirming the status and social bonds of participants.18 Allusions, serious or ironic, to a common past and its values would well suit such a setting. We also have traces of longer elegies, however, that seem less appropriate for symposia than for performance at local public festivals.19 One theme attested in such works is the foundation and history of Greek cities, especially in

large and well-known differences between the two historians), but they evaluate them differently from Aristotle. Rather like Lucian in the essay quoted above, each calls into question the accuracy of poetic, especially Homeric, accounts. Herodotus refers dubiously to place-names ‘invented’ or ‘made’ by a poet, such as the rivers Okeanos and Eridanus (2.23, 3.115.2), and even to a theogony ‘made’ for the Greeks by Homer and Hesiod (2.53.2)—so much for the poets’ Muse-inspired knowledge! Further,

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