Historical Writing Essay by Research Group

Historical Writing
This paper studies the perspectives of two ancient historians, Thucydides, the Athenian and Cornelius Tacitus, the Roman.
# 26987 | 1,073 words | 2 sources | MLA | 2002 | US
Published on May 22, 2003 in History (Greek and Roman) , Philosophy (Ancient Greek) , Philosophy (History)

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The paper first looks at Thucydides, who, in his "History of the Peloponnesian War", draws upon oral historical traditions and cultural myths to describe such remote events as the Trojan War. The paper then examines Tacitus, whose work "Agricola" owed much to the experiences of the historian's own father-in-law, who is the subject of the story of Rome's activities in Britain from about A.D. 61 to A.D. 84.

From the Paper:

"What is the "proper" approach to writing about history? The perspectives of two ancient historians, Thucydides the Athenian and Cornelius Tacitus the Roman, offer us the opportunity to learn from how they presented historical events and the manner in which they did so. While objectivity, lack of personal bias, extensive reliance on source documents, personal interviews, and even first-hand experience of events and knowledge of event-shapers are all valuable qualities in an historian's work, they are not absolute necessities. Thucydides, in his History of the Peloponnesian War, draws upon oral historical traditions and cultural myths to describe such remote events as the Trojan War, and on the speeches he attributes to some of his contemporaries in the war between Athens and Sparta. Tacitus, in the Agricola and the Germania, seems to be more concerned with providing "evidence" of a particular political and ideological orientation than in capturing what we might call "reality" or true "objectivity." Despite these superficial drawbacks, both writers are historians; they offer readers unique insight not only into actual events and the behaviors of key individuals and groups, but also into the underlying cultural norms, ethics, belief systems and values that existed in their lifetimes."

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