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Ancient Historiography

1. Approaching Historiography

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about some of the key issues when approaching ancient historiography, focusing in particular on: (i) the ‘value’ of the past in antiquity and its impact on how people thought about the writing of history; (ii) the tension between past events (‘what actually happened’) and the writing about those past events; (iii) the differences between how we write history today and how history was written in antiquity; (iv) the ‘two-fold’ encounter with the past when reading ancient history – i.e. the tension between the period in which the historian was writing and the period about which the historian writes; and (v) the tendency to privilege ancient historians based on what they are writing about rather than their inherent quality as historians.


In this course, Professor Matthew Fox (University of Glasgow) provides a broad introduction the writing of history (or ‘historiography’) in the Greek and Roman world. In the first module, we think about some of the key issues when approaching ancient historical writing, including the idea of the purpose of history and the main differences between how history is written today and how it was written in the ancient world. After that, in the second module, we turn to the works of Herodotus and Thucydides, their similarities and differences, and the impact on later historiography. In the third module, we turn to the evolution of historical writing in the Roman world from Sallust to Tacitus, before moving on in the fourth module to consider the important of rhetoric in ancient historiography. Finally, in the fifth module, we think about the presence of history in the poetry of the ancient world, including Homer, Virgil, Ovid and Lucan.


Matthew Fox is Professor of Classics at Glasgow University. His research focuses on ancient historical thinking, and on how both Romans and Greeks used history as a medium for reflection. His publications include Roman Historical Myths: the Regal Period in Augustan Literature (1996) and Cicero's Philosophy of History (2007).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Fox, M. (2020, October 26). Ancient Historiography - Approaching Historiography [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Fox, M. "Ancient Historiography – Approaching Historiography." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 26 Oct 2020,