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Sources for, and dating, Greek history. Testing a sources reliability Temporal proximity Contextual fit Intentionality Contextual fit Intentionality Temporal.

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Presentation on theme: "Sources for, and dating, Greek history. Testing a sources reliability Temporal proximity Contextual fit Intentionality Contextual fit Intentionality Temporal."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sources for, and dating, Greek history

2 Testing a sources reliability Temporal proximity Contextual fit Intentionality Contextual fit Intentionality Temporal proximity

3 [1] With reference to the speeches in this history, some were delivered before the war began, others while it was going on; some I heard myself, others I got from various quarters; it was in all cases difficult to carry them word for word in one's memory, so my habit has been to make the speakers say what was in my opinion demanded of them by the various occasions, of course adhering as closely as possible to the general sense of what they really said. [2] And with reference to the narrative of events, far from permitting myself to derive it from the first source that came to hand, I did not even trust my own impressions, but it rests partly on what I saw myself, partly on what others saw for me, the accuracy of the report being always tried by the most severe and detailed tests possible. [3] My conclusions have cost me some labor from the want of coincidence between accounts of the same occurrences by different eye-witnesses, arising sometimes from imperfect memory, sometimes from undue partiality for one side or the other. Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War 1.22

4 Testing a sources reliability Temporal proximity Contextual fit Intentionality Contextual fit Intentionality Temporal proximity

5 Literary sources for Greek history (f=focus; b=breadth; c=composition) Historians: extant works –Herodotus Histories (f.: ; b.: ; c.: ca. 431) –Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War (f.: ; b.: ; c.: ca. 400) –Xenophons Hellenica (f.: ; b.: same; c.: ) –Aristotles Athenian Constitution (f.: and 4 th century; b.: th century; c.: )

6 Literary sources for Greek history (f=focus; b=breadth; c=composition) Historians: non-extant works except fragments –Atthidographers (f.: 5th-4 th centuries; b.: origins-4 th century; c.: 4 th century) –Ephorus Universal History (f.: post-Trojan War-4 th century; b.: same; c.: 4 th century) –Diodorus Siculus Historical Library (f.: universal history; b.: same: c.: 1 st century)

7 Epic poets –Homers Iliad and Odyssey (f.: heroic age: b.: same; c.: ? later?) – one poet? –Hesiods Theogony (f.: origins; b.: same; c.: ? later?) –Hesiods Works and Days (f.: ?; b.: same: c.: same) –Homeric Cycle and Homeric Hymns (f.: heroic age; b.: same; c.: 7 th -6 th centuries) Literary sources for Greek history (f=focus; b=breadth; c=composition)

8 Lyric (sung to the lyre), epigrammatic (short, witty) and elegiac (mournful) poets –Theognis, Alcaeus, Solon, Simonides, Anacreon, Archilochus, Bacchylides, Phocylides, Pindar, Sappho, Xenophanes (f.: contemporary life; b: same; c.: 7 th -5 th centuries) Orators – 5 th & 4 th centuries –e.g., Aeschines, Andocides, Antiphon, Isocrates, Lysias, Demosthenes Literary sources for Greek history (f=focus; b=breadth; c=composition)

9 Tragic poets (3 compete annually, each with 4 plays – 3 tragedies, one satyr play) –Aeschylus: 525/4-456/5 (7 of 90 extant) –Sophocles: 496/5-406/5 (7 of 123 extant) –Euripides: 491/0-406/5 (19 of 91 extant) Comic poets (3-5 compete annually, each with one play) –Aristophanes: (11 of 40 extant)

10 Dating sources Internal evidence –references to events and social customs dated by other means (e.g., emergence of the polis, events in a war) –anachronisms – i.e., temporal dislocation (e.g., chariots in the Iliad) External evidence –archaeological evidence

11 Material sources for Greek history: archaeological evidence: inscriptions Epigraphy: inscriptions on stone, metal, terracotta – durable materials –typically contemporary –often fragmentary –nearly useless if not dated Genres –poetry, laws, decrees, votes –treaties, dedications, honors

12 Material sources for Greek history: archaeological evidence: papyri Primary medium for … day-to-day activities –correspondence –petitions –edicts –receipts Limited survival of texts –Aristotles Athenian Constitution –Oxyrhynchos Historian –many fragments of (un)known works

13 Material sources for Greek history: archaeological evidence: coins Field of numismatics (<νομίζειν, to use according to νόμος – law or custom) –post 550 BCE, so not applicable earlier –limited use as propaganda, so little internal evidence –long periods of usage, so broad range of dates

14 Material sources for Greek history: archaeological evidence: architecture, sculpture, vase painting Architecture –often can be dated –internal ideologies –evidence of wealth –evidence of skill Sculpture, vase painting -can be dated stylistically -reveals social customs -high level of sophistication

15 Material sources for Greek history: archaeological evidence: field data Pollen analysis, petrology, animal bones –trade –economics –social customs –settlement patterns –public vs. private space –diet –environmental conditions

16 All sources for Greek history: literary and material Context is key Congruence is rare Historians must draw upon all sources to complete the picture CongruenceLiteratureEpigraphyArchaeology

17 Dating schemes: caveat emptor Each polis used different systems (& calendars) –Athens: eponymous archon lists: 683/2, reliable p.425/4 Panhellenic festivals –Olympiads: 766 –reliable post 600 Religious offices –priestess of Hera at Argos

18 Dating schemes: putting it all together Synchronisms between –Olympiads and Biblical events –Olympiads and Roman emperors –Squaring with the Gregorian calendar Archaeological evidence –pottery, architecture, sculpture often based on stylistics – development varies widely –Thucydides colonial foundations in Sicily, southern Italy dates are relative; are they reliable? –destruction level of 480 in Athens: all material predates 480 –confirmation from other cultures: Near Eastern destruction levels, Egyptian Pharoaonic dates

19 Periodization of Greek history

20 Ancient history according to Herodotus & Thucydides Hdt. 1 prooimion –conflict between East and West –great men, great deeds Thuc –conflict between Peloponnesians & Athenians –greatest war in history –pre-history impoverished, isolated, under attack factionalism Athenian autochthony (native to the soil) Trojan War = 1 st common action among Greeks Minoan thalassocracy in the Aegean / Cyclades; piracy peace engendered prosperity and growth, communities Agamemnon, Mycenae & the Trojan War survival of material culture indication of power, influence (Athens v. Sparta) post-Trojan War disruptions, invasion of Dorians/Heraclids in Peloponnese

21 Greece: topography & resources

22 High Low Altitude

23 Greece: topography & resources Topography mountains, rocky soil, jagged coasts, few large fluvial plains; Aegean Sea; islands. Result regarding communities and communication? result: relative isolation; communication by sea Climate hot, dry summers; mild, rainy winters. Result regarding agriculture? result: agriculture difficult, unpredictable Resources: food flocks: goats, sheep, pigs; cattle rare, horses (expensive, used for warfare, travel) crop diversification: oil (cooking), grapes (wine), some vegetables, barley (primary foodstuff). Result regarding diet? result: proteins: fish; beans; other goods (e.g., wheat) imported Resources: minerals, timber durable: bronze: copper (plentiful), tin (non-existent); iron (plentiful) luxury: gold (rare), silver (mines in Attica south of Athens) stone: limestone (plentiful), marble (Paros, Attica) timber: northern Aegean / Thrace (structures, shipbuilding) obsidian (volcanic glass): islands – e.g., Melos. Result regarding access? result: control of sea for food, travel, commerce

24 Natural resources in archaic Greece


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