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date: 21 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The aim of this chapter is to discover, and to adopt, the perspective through which Thucydides himself observed the landscape of historical memory in the fifth century bce. In the complex topography that comes into sight, different forms of oral memory alternate with early attempts to apply writing to the description of the past. Every element of the fifth-century memory landscape (Herodotus, oral history, local historians, historical poetry, epitaphios logos) plays a precise role in forging Thucydides’ view and practice of history, and forces him to find his place and take a stand against other genres. This chapter argues that the genre of the Athenian epitaphios logos was crucial to the formation of Thucydides’ historical writing, since it first developed key practices such as a focus on the present, temporal articulation, and responsible subjectivity.

Keywords: epitaphios logos, funeral oration, historical poetry, local history, memory, orality, present

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