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Experience and Teleology in Ancient Historiography
Futures Past from Herodotus to Augustine


  • Date Published: October 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107040281

£ 84.99

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • 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
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    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 Review

    '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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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2013
    • 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.

  • Author

    Jonas Grethlein, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg, Germany
    Jonas Grethlein holds the Chair in Greek Literature at Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg. His recent publications include The Greeks and their Past: Poetry, Oratory and History in the Fifth Century BCE (2010) and, co-edited with Christopher B. Krebs, Time and Narrative in Ancient Historiography: The 'Plupast' from Herodotus to Appian (2012).

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