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The past is narrated in retrospect. Historians can either capitalize on the benefit of hindsight and give their narratives a strongly teleological design or they may try to render the past as it was experienced by historical agents and contemporaries. This book explores the fundamental tension between experience and teleology in major works of Greek and Roman historiography, biography and autobiography. The combination of theoretical reflections with close readings yields a new, often surprising assessment of the history of ancient historiography as well as a deeper understanding of such authors as Thucydides, Tacitus and Augustine. While much recent work has focused on how ancient historians use emplotment to generate historical meaning, Experience and Teleology in Ancient Historiography offers a new approach to narrative form as a mode of coming to grips with time.Read more
- Develops a new approach to the narrative form of historiography
- Offers fresh and original readings of major Greek and Roman historians
- Encourages a fruitful dialogue between reflections on the theory of history and close readings of texts
Reviews & endorsements
"Professional classicists and dissertation topic-hunting graduate students who are looking to take the study of historiography and ancient historical narrative in a new direction will find much useful material in this book … [It] reflects the energy, knowledge, and insight of it author. It is clearly written and beautifully structured. Grethlein provides sections within each chapter, and then sub-sections within the sections."
Jonathan Master, Bryn Mawr Classical ReviewSee more reviews
"Grethlein's book is a powerful study; it is brilliantly written with impressive results. It draws our attention to a fascinating narrative bipolarity within the texts of the ancient historians. Grethlein's study and conclusions will definitely strengthen its readers' understanding of their texts."
Felix K. Maier, Journal of Hellenic Studies
"… this new book by Grethlein is an investigation into literary memory in Antiquity … Its strength lies in Grethlein's ability to combine theoretical reflections with close readings and to see the complex intertwining of narrative form, purpose and historical circumstance."
Maria Osmers, The Classical Review
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- Date Published: March 2014
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107040281
- length: 436 pages
- dimensions: 231 x 163 x 28 mm
- weight: 0.82kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Introduction: futures past: historiography between experience and teleology
Part I. Experience: Making the Past Present:
1. Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War
2. Xenophon, Anabasis
3. Plutarch, Alexander
4. Tacitus, Annals
Part II. Teleology: The Power of Retrospect:
5. Herodotus, Histories
6. Polybius, Histories
7. Sallust, Bellum Catilinae
Part III. Beyond Experience and Teleology:
8. Augustine, Confessions
Epilogue: experience in modern historiography.
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