A study of the effects of memory and mnemonics on early Greek historical writing, History and Memory in Ancient Greece examines the methods used by ancient historians to give their narratives authenticity and raises questions about the nature of ancient historical knowledge by contrasting it with various types of modern knowledge, particularly scientific. Gordon Shrimpton assesses the early Greek historians - Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, Ephorus, and Theopompus - in light of their own views of history and the views of the ancient theorists, establishing the ancient approaches to historical verification and assessing how far they differ from contemporary investigative procedures. He argues that the ancient historians saw memories about public events as public possessions; they recorded public knowledge and were judged for their style. Ancient historians regarded travel, through which they came into contact with relevant regional traditions, as the best way to acquire and transmit knowledge about the past with due regard to truth. In the seventeenth century, however, historical narratives came to be viewed as the property of an individual investigator, and historical knowledge became a commodity to be bought and sold through publication. Shrimpton's study is a major reassessment of the role of group dynamics and individualism in the establishment of authority in ancient historical writing.
About the Author
Gordon S. Shrimpton is associate professor of Greek and Roman Studies, University of Victoria.