This article shows how the work of physical construction of a city involved the creation of a history, an ideal past for the polis, which is owned by each individual citizen as much as the corporation. Its history is the citizen's ancestry. Since the citizen might be memorialized in inscription or statue, he might in his turn aspire to a kind of immortality as part of his city's historical identity. Within cities, the construction of memory may have been the means or the prize in power struggles or personal agendas. The story of Athens may bear rethinking in terms of competing political personalities. This should act as an invitation to consider that ‘collective memory’, like other products of the Greek city, may have to be read against the grain.
Casper C. de Jonge
Thucydides was very popular among Roman rhetoricians and historians of the first century bce. The Greek critic Dionysius of Halicarnassus, however, criticizes Thucydides for his unnatural style and his inappropriate treatment of subject matter. This chapter explains Dionysius’ criticisms by taking into account the later writer’s rhetorical perspective on the writing of history, as well as the character of his Roman audience, which included the addressee of the treatise, the historian Quintus Aelius Tubero. Dionysius’ criticisms of Thucydides’ anti-Athenian attitude ( Letter to Pompeius 3.15), and his apparently conflicting praise (On Thucydides 8.1) of Thucydides’ commitment to the truth can be reconciled if we take into account Dionysius’ concept of “truth,” his intended audience, and his rhetorical concept of historiography.
This article discusses the attempts of Muslim intellectuals to forge a kind of synthesis between Greek philosophy and Islamic thought, attempts that have parallels in the Christian and Judaic traditions. Classical Muslim culture remained a vibrant and pluralistic phenomenon that often conceived of Greek thought and learning as an indigenous tradition, and as a legitimate precursor to Islamic scholarship.
James I. Porter
This article argues that Hellenism is a controversial concept with a lengthy history, and which ultimately defies all attempts to give it definition. In discussing Matthew Arnold, it suggests that people think of Hellenism as a relationship between a particular past and a perpetually changing present. The ancient Greek world is contested, fragile, and phantasmatic; it is constructed by a gaze that looks intensely back into the past. While the concept of Hellenism has been extraordinarily fertile, it is also restrictive, and its evasions and exclusions need to be acknowledged. A broader and more inclusive conception, as some have argued, would allow for a more critical and self-aware reception of the Greek past and would engage with the range of diverse traditions that have contributed to the formation of Hellenism since antiquity. The article focuses on German and British Hellenism, the two most formative traditions in modernity.
This article moves past the Renaissance to the Enlightenment and, in particular, to the French Revolution, which crystallized an important, if not fully understood, moment in the history of Hellenism. It shows how the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the inspiration for so many of the French revolutionaries, were simultaneously proto-democratic and pro-Spartan. In this respect, Rousseau marks a complex breakthrough in the political traditions of Hellenism, which were, for much of European history until the eighteenth century, anti-democratic and pro-Spartan.
Christopher S. Celenza
This article discusses Hellenism in the Renaissance, illustrating how humanist scholarship laid the foundations for modern philology and the later stages of classical studies. It points out the hunger for ancient texts and knowledge that fuelled Renaissance intellectuals such as Coluccio Salutati and Leonardo Bruni. A large part of the humanist project was devoted to acquiring Greek texts, translating them into Latin, and studying them with the intense philological precision that was also deployed in the scrutiny of Latin. The humanist achievements cannot be separated from the enhanced status of libraries, the invention of printing, and the political upheavals caused by the fall of Constantinople in 1453, all of which served as an impetus to Greek learning in Europe.
Indigenous Hellenisms/Indigenous Modernities: Classical Antiquity, Materiality, and Modern Greek Society
This article attempts to briefly highlight an alternative Hellenism, indigenous Hellenism as performed by intellectuals and state bureaucrats, politicians and citizens, and poets and ordinary people, in Greece since the nineteenth century. Through a process of sacralization, classical antiquity was placed at the centre of the emerging modern state, and the material culture of the past (ruins, statues, inscriptions, etc.) gained in status and value. While the new nation of Greece saw itself as the resurrection of an ancient entity, the ideological basis for this national project was provided by a home-grown synthesis of ‘western’ and indigenous Hellenisms. The discussion also argues that it was the crucial work of Johann Gustav Droysen which facilitated this synthesis. It was his idea of a continuity between the ancient and modern worlds that gave Greek intellectuals the impetus to trace their own origins back to the classical past.
This chapter examines Thucydides’ influence on Polybius and Sallust. It demonstrates the various ways in which these two authors drew on and adapted the concepts, methods and ideas, style, and narrative technique of their famous predecessor as part of the creation of their own original interpretations of the past. In respect to Polybius, the chapter argues that the Thucydidean paradigm had a marked effect both on Polybius’ conceptions of historical causation and on his style. In the case of Sallust, the paper argues that Thucydides provided a writing style and ethical concepts with which to describe the crisis of the late Roman Republic. However, neither author simply “imitates” Thucydides. Both engage creatively and often critically with the various aspects of his work. They rewrite, elaborate on, and “correct” Thucydides as much as they are inspired by him.
The Attic comic poets, despite their focus on celebrities and popular culture, their portrayal of Pericles as tyrannical, and their one-sidedly elite and rightist partisanship, nevertheless share with Thucydides an essentially coherent narrative of Athenian acme and decline after Pericles, exemplified politically by Cleon. Moreover, Thucydides often silently takes comic material into account when formulating his own narrative. This chapter examines the connections between Attic comedy and Thucydidean historiography in respect to shared and contrasting attitudes and responses to the political and social life of 5th century Athens. It proceeds chronologically through the war, examining the responses of historiography and the comic poets to the emerging events, issues, and leaders.
This chapter discusses the ways in which later historians completed the unfinished history of Thucydides. Cratippus (the author of the Hellenica Oxyrhynchia), Xenophon and Theopompus all wrote completions of Thucydides. They also attached continuations to their completions, going well beyond the endpoint Thucydides envisaged at 5.26. This chapter mentions the continuations only where relevant, however, choosing instead to focus on the completions because they are our first receptions of Thucydides. It considers the ways in which they did or did not imitate their great predecessor and how in other ways they might have engaged with his narrative. Xenophon’s completion is the main focus because it is the only one that is fully extant.
The chapter examines Thucydides’ intellectual milieu, concentrating on medical theories of the time, rhetoric, and especially the rhetorical use of theories of justice and self-interest. It examines the account of the Plague and the impossibility of isolating a cause, akribeia as a wider aim of medical writers, and Thucydides’ familiarity with intellectual theories, which he then supersedes. Finally, it examines aspects of the presentation of rhetoric and its effects: it focuses on Thucydides’ Plataean Debate and the claims made to justice, law, and convention, comparing Antiphon and Thrasymachus’ theories of justice and Thucydides’ possible contribution to this debate.
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.
Despite initially acknowledging the deep gulf between his concern with the truth and the fanciful compositions of the poets, Thucydides is strongly influenced by the examples of Homer and Attic tragedy. Three areas of influence can be distinguished. First, Homer and the tragedians provide fundamental structural principles: Thucydides adopts Homer’s solution to narrating simultaneous strands of events, follows Homer’s example in heightening suspense, and learns from both Homer and tragedy to generate unity through narrative patterning. By adopting Homeric and tragic features, Thucydides infuses his narrative with a specific tone: tragic irony and reversals create an atmosphere of eerie inevitability, Homeric “Almost episodes” underscore the fragility of human endeavors, the Homeric emphasis on factual precision heightens Thucydides’ tone of objective pathos. Third, Thucydides’ allusions to specific Homeric and tragic episodes, besides demonstrating Thucydides’ engagement with Homer and tragedy, reveal his persisting distance from his poetic models.
This chapter discusses Thucydides’ influence on the historians of late antiquity, with a particular emphasis on Procopius. Topics include an overview of history writing in late antiquity; a look at some basic Thucydidean borrowings, from subject matter to types of episodes; a discussion of rhetoric and education in late antiquity and its role in fostering Thucydides’ impact; the particular place that Thucydides’ description of the siege of Plataea had in later accounts of sieges; and a discussion of Procopius’ particular engagement with Thucydides. The chapter argues that Thucydides’ evident influence was not the result of a malaise among those late antique historians who chose to write classicizing, “old-fashioned” histories, but rather of the immediate usefulness of Thucydides’ approach for those interested in war and politics.
Thucydides and Tacitus are both uncomfortable authors whose unsparing commitment to revealing the truth results in grim depictions of the amoral deployment of political power—power for the sake of power—in idiosyncratic and difficult idioms. However, Tacitus never announces a program of Thucydides-imitation, whether pertaining to methodology or theme. Nor do ancient commentators link Tacitus to his Greek predecessor. Nevertheless, the two are much alike in important aspects of their historiographical achievements. The chapter explores a pair of passages in which the two historians treat one of history’s “repeating events”—defection from an imperial power. In examining the narratives of the Mytilenean and Batavian revolts (Thuc. 3.2–6, 8–18, 23–33, 35–50; Tac. H. 4.12–37, 54–79, 5.14–26), it gives due attention to “each new permutation of circumstances,” the important proviso that Thucydides attaches to his prediction about recurrence (3.82.2).
Xenophon’s “continuation” of Thucydides’ history opens up a perspective on realism as it is found in the speeches and deeds of Thucydides’ Athenians. The Hellenica and, to a lesser extent, the Anabasis enter into a dialogue with Thucydides about realism and the problematic way in which its theory has an impact on practice. Xenophon’s morality contains surprisingly realistic elements, and his peculiar combination of ethics and politics highlights Thucydides’ own intense interest in the morality and piety of his characters as they struggle with the claims of natural necessity. Moral agency is shown to depend on morale. The perception of necessity sometimes destroys, sometimes raises morale.