Presentation on theme: "Approaches to Ancient History Week 4: Narrative and Rhetoric."— Presentation transcript:
Approaches to Ancient History Week 4: Narrative and Rhetoric
Which is more persuasive, and why? The Roman Republic was brought down by its own internal contradictions; class conflict was all-pervasive and exploitation was rife. The Roman Republic did not die a natural death; it was murdered, through the ambition of a few unscrupulous individuals. The Roman Republic did not fall in any meaningful sense; that is a fiction, created by anti-imperial historians and mythographers.
Problems of Interpretation Except in simplest cases, evidence is always open to multiple interpretations; impossible to falsify historical accounts. Judge partly in terms of fit with evidence and economy of explanation. More contentious criteria: fit with comparative evidence and theories of other disciplines; fit with moral and/or political assumptions – no netural perspective?
Narrative Structures Does the historical account tell the right sort of story? Does it fit with grand narrative? Historians generally suspicious of narrative, but underpins all historical understanding; framework within which to conceptualise relationship between past and present. Limited range of story types: prefigure past in terms of one of them?
Which is more persuasive, and why? The city of Rome was a shambles of graffiti, beggars, brawling and litter – imagine everyone in tracksuits and you could almost be in London. One can only wonder how this unseemly rabble dominated the world. The examples of London and other early modern European capitals suggest how the negative estimations of Rome s economic influence and internal social structures might be reappraised. The crystallization and concentration of functions at the nodal points of the Stage 4 urban network determines and directs the flow of resources.
Rhetoric The use of language as a means of persuasion; all history is rhetorical. Rules of the genre; the expected and acceptable forms of discourse. Functions of rhetoric: establish authority of writer; establish membership of group; disguise true nature of historical account; configure object of study.