Ulterior Motives in Ancient Historiography

By | 5 kwietnia 2010

W dniu 13 kwietnia o godz. 18.00 w Małej Auli  gmachu PAU w Krakowie, ul. Sławkowska 17 odbędzie się posiedzenie Komisji Filologii Klasycznej PAU. W trakcie posiedzenia wykład pt. Ulterior Motives in Ancient Historiography: The Use and Purpose of History wygłosi prof. dr Kurt A. Raaflaub (Brown University). Po wykładzie przewidziana jest dyskusja.


The Greeks stand at the beginning of a long and unbroken western tradition of historical writing. Whether or not they really invented the genre, they were the first to reflect consciously and explicitly on the methods of historical inquiry and the principles of reconstructing and writing history. The model established by Herodotus and Thucydides had important precedents already in Homer’s epic narrative, and it decisively influenced the patterns dominating historiography throughout antiquity and far beyond. All this is well-known, but a question that is more rarely asked concerns the impetus underlying the entire enterprise: why and for what purpose did ancient historians write history? What does Thucydides mean when he says that his History is intended to serve as an “everlasting possession”? How can history be useful for all times? Or in what ways can history, as Polybius puts it, be a guide to conduct and a training ground for aspiring politicians? That history has didactic value is a commonplace in Roman historiography as well, even if there the emphasis tends to be placed on moral aspects rather than political ones. Such statements, at any rate, seem to suggest that history has an impact that reaches beyond the present: it helps anticipate and shape the future. How do we explain this specific understanding of history, and where does it come from? Does this “utilitarian perspective on history” have antecedants in earlier Greek thought? And most importantly: if it is assumed that knowledge of the past can help shape the future, does this establish an interactive relationship between past, present, and future, and how does it influence the (re)construction and interpretation of history? 

 Źródło: Organizatorzy