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date: 29 September 2023

historiography, Greeklocked

historiography, Greeklocked

  • Simon Hornblower


That Greeks invented history-writing is not certain: the Jewish ‘Succession Narrative’ in the books of Samuel and Kings antedates every Greek claimant to be the first historian. But direct Jewish influence on Greece is unlikely, and much biblical narration is driven by divine not humanly contingent causal forces.*Homer is not historiography and is slippery ground for the historian. But his characters show awareness of the past, and are impelled by an urge to leave glory to posterity; thus *Achilles sings of the famous deeds of men and *Helen weaves into a web the story of the sufferings she has herself brought about. The poet himself speaks of ‘men who exist nowadays’ by contrast with inhabitants of the world he describes. *Genealogies, of the sort that feature in Homeric battle-challenges, are essential to a historical perspective on human events, and they form the link between Homer and *Hecataeus (1) of Miletus, the first true Greek historian: he wrote a prose work on genealogy, as well as a description of the world known to him, and a work on mythology.


  • Greek History and Historiography

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