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The Greeks and Their Past

Ancient Greeks remembered their past before the rise of historiography and after it poetry and oratory continued to serve commemorative functions. This book explores the field of literary memory in the fifth century BCE, juxtaposing the works of Herodotus and Thucydides with samples from epinician poetry, elegy, tragedy and oratory. Various socio-political contexts and narrative forms lent themselves to the expression of diverse attitudes towards the past. At the same time, a common gravitational centre can be observed which is distinct from modern ideas of history. As well as presenting a broad overview on memory in various genres, Professor Grethlein sheds new light on the rise of Greek historiography. He views Herodotus and Thucydides against the background of memory in poetry and oratory and thereby elucidates the tension between tradition and continuity in which the shaping of historiography as a genre took place.
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Table of Contents

1. Introduction; Part I. Clio polytropos: Non-historiographical Media of Memory: 2. Epinician poetry: Pindar, Olympian 2; 3. Elegy: the 'New Simonides' and the past in earlier elegies; 4. Tragedy: Aeschylus, Persae; 5. Epideictic oratory: Lysias, Epitaphios Logos; 6. Deliberative oratory: Andocides, De pace; Part II. The Rise of Greek Historiography: 7. Herodotus; 8. Thucydides; 9. Epilogue: historical fevers, ancient and modern; Appendix: lengthy historical narratives in Tyrtaeus and Mimnermus?

About the Author

Jonas Grethlein is Professor of Classics at the Ruprecht-Karls-Universitat Heidelberg. He studied at Gottingen, Oxford and Freiburg before holding positions at Harvard and the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 2006 he received the prestigious Heinz-Maier-Leibnitz award for junior scholars. In addition to numerous articles he has published Asyl und Athen. Die Konstruktion kollektiver Identitat in der griechischen Tragodie (2003) and Das Geschichtsbild der Ilias. Eine Untersuchung des Geschichtsbildes der Ilias aus phanomenologischer und narratologischer Perspektive (2006) and edited (with A. Rengakos) Narratology and Interpretation: The Content of Narrative Form in Ancient Literature (forthcoming).


'Grethlein has written a remarkably broad, erudite, and often original study.' Victor Bers, American Journal of Philology 'This is an ambitious, lucid, well-researched and well-organized book ... [It] provides a stimulating argument and one based on much careful analysis of ancient texts and knowledge of the extensive relevant modern scholarship ... One looks forward for more from Jonas Grethlein in the future on these and similar challenging topics.' Carolyn Dewald, Classical Journal '... a valuable read on Hellenic memory as ideological tool.' Donald Lateiner, The Historian

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