history: Greek and Roman Historiography
Greek and Roman Historiography
It was not until the time of the Greeks that historiography, the writing of organic history, emerged. The compilations of the
The second great Greek historian, Thucydides, was of a different stamp. In writing the history of the Peloponnesian War he limited himself to matters of state and war; he tried to establish chronology and facts with some exactitude, avoiding the digressions of Herodotus; though his attempt at writing a factual and impartial history was not entirely successful, he wrote a grave work, conveying the lessons he drew from his story. The third of the great Greek historians, Xenophon, was more devoted to the purely storytelling aspects of history.
The influence of Thucydides was early in the ascendant, and the two important Greek historians of the Roman period, Polybius and Dio Cassius, more or less modeled themselves on that master. The Roman historian Livy was more of a teller of tales, and he invoked the intervention of the gods to explain cause and effect. The great commentaries of Julius Caesar were more like inspired reporting than pure history writing, and the personal element in them was strong. Tacitus followed more or less the pattern of Thucydides but with a brooding moral interest in the decay of Roman society.
Sections in this article:
- Eastern Historiography
- History in the Twentieth Century and Since
- History in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
- Renaissance Historiography
- Medieval Historiography
- Greek and Roman Historiography
- Western Historiography
- Origins of Historical Writing
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