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Writing Ancient History: An Introduction to Classical Historiography

Writing Ancient History: An Introduction to Classical Historiography

Paperback Library of Classical Studies

By (author) Luke Pitcher

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Hardback $77.17
  • Publisher: I.B.Tauris
  • Format: Paperback | 288 pages
  • Dimensions: 134mm x 216mm x 20mm | 322g
  • Publication date: 1 March 2010
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1845119584
  • ISBN 13: 9781845119584
  • Sales rank: 248,305

Product description

'History is the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon', said Napoleon. Yet the actual writing of history, especially ancient history, is a practice that often prompts more discord than assent. In his new textbook, Luke Pitcher aims to overcome the hostility which exists between two rival camps in their study of classical historiography. The first camp looks at the classical historians with an eye to what data they can provide about the ancient world. The second camp examines the ancient writers as literary texts in their own right, employing the tools of literary criticism and engaging with such matters as narrative artistry.Attempting to fuse these two - mutually suspicious - approaches, Luke Pitcher's attractive introduction offers undergraduate students of classics the first comprehensive introduction to historiography in antiquity on the market. It unites the nitty-gritty of the historian's trade (the finding and managing of data) to an awareness of the importance of style, form, allusion and composition. The book also seeks to do justice to individual classical historians, and discusses such important figures as Livy, Tacitus, Herodotus, Cicero, Plutarch and Lucian. A comprehensive bibliography and glossary are included. "Writing Ancient History" at last does full justice to the mechanics of history-writing in the ancient world.

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Author information

Luke Pitcher is Lecturer in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Durham. He has studied and written extensively on the subject of historiography in antiquity.

Review quote

'This is a very good book indeed; general readers, students, and specialists alike will read it with profit and delight. Luke Pitcher ranges over ancient historical writers, both Greek and Roman, from Herodotus to Ammianus, with an impressive grasp of his material, and he has a gift for finding the telling example and making subtle and insightful points with lucidity and punch. He also has a wonderful eye for the modern parallel, and one is as likely to find here illumination drawn from a Patrick O'Brian novel or an episode of Doctor Who as from an extract from Xenophon or Velleius. Pitcher is unusually sensitive to the narrative strategies of the ancient historical writers, and also of all the health-warnings that the modern student needs to bear in mind when reading their works. Few writers about ancient historiography are so learned, and even fewer carry their learning so lightly: this is a book that anyone interested in ancient history just has to read - and they will thoroughly enjoy it.' - Christopher Pelling, Regius Professor of Greek, University of Oxford; 'Luke Pitcher has written an engaging, witty, and accessible study of the complicated relationship between theory and practice in the ancient historians, bringing to the task an impressive expertise in texts that range from archaic Greece to late antiquity. He resists simple contrasts between ancient and modern, presenting the reader instead with finely drawn, convincingly argued analyses of the spectrum of practices employed by ancient historiographers in their treatment of sources, self-presentation, and narrative modes of (re)presenting their pasts. Bearing in mind always that the modern student of the Greco-Roman world is also, in some way, 'writing ancient history', Pitcher brings us much closer to the methodologies and reception of these texts through which so much of our understanding of the ancient world derives.' - Christina S Kraus, Professor of Classics, Yale University