By Alexandra Lianeri
Greek historiography engaged with prior and current time; yet how precisely did this engagement comprise claims to understanding the long run? contemplating diagnosis as rooted in historiographical temporalities this quantity reads historians from Herodotus to Appian so as to exploring configurations of destiny time within the context of historic and sleek reflections at the ancient in addition to the moral and political position of historiographical perform.
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Additional resources for Knowing Future Time In and Through Greek Historiography
Building on Marincola’s suggestion, I will discuss the Sicilian Debate in order to examine Thucydides’ polyphonic narration of the future, highlighting the gap among diverse voices of historical actors and between them and the voice of the historian. In doing so I will seek to a) elaborate on a notion of elusive temporality manifested in the poetics of Greek history writing; and b) deploy this notion as a starting point in order to present the contributions to the first section of this volume dealing with the configuration of future time through a poetics of historical knowledge.
According to Eliade’s argument, which is largely confirmed by Wesselmann’s essay, the man of archaic societies explains contingency as a function of fury or fate and confronts it by imitating or recounting the exemplary acts of gods or heroes through myth and ritual – an operation which enables his dissociation from profane time and his entering into sacred time, where ‘real’ events take place. ¹⁰⁶ Eliade’s thesis pertains to Wesselmann’s argument through their identification of mythical approaches as ahistorical and atemporal, and thus as unable to accommodate conceptions of the past, present and future.
Yet this awareness is reconciled in the narrative with an optimism about the ability to gain insights into future possibilities. For Polybius the usefulness of history resides in the fact that those who study it can deal with situations similar to those they have read about more effectively. Uncertainty about the future plays a key role in this enterprise: it is the incalculable element in life that makes it more imperative to engage with history and its lessons. Hence Polybius’ work sets out to educate readers on how to cope with future uncertainty.