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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Original sources.

“There are a terrible lot of lies going about the world, and the worst of it is that half of them are true.” Winston Churchill.

Bodrom, Turkey. Ever hear if it? It was a Greek colonial town subject to Persian over lordship & designed to be relegated to decent obscurity except for an odd quirk of fate; it is the birthplace of Herodotus & Herodotus as we all know is the father of history.

Well educated, from a prominent family & widely travelled his Inquiry [the Greek work for History] formed the basis for Greek & Roman historiographia & while Herodotus strove for accuracy in his work it suffers from a strong Grecian bias. When it comes to History he may have been the first but he is hardly likely to be the last to write history with an unashamed bias.

Plutarch, also a Greek though he became a Roman citizen, doesn't even pretend to be writing history & his Lives are sometimes glaringly contrary to the known facts. At least he never pretended to be writing history. His focus was moral philosophy. That his discussion of morality happened to focus on real historical figures was perhaps unfortunate.

Then there was Gildas, the first British historian whose De Excidio Britannicae {On the Ruin of Britain} is a ranting diatribe against the corrupt priests & leaders of his time & hardly an unbiased & reliable treatise; some things never change but my favourite of all is Geoffrey of Monmouth.

If you haven't met this gentleman you really should. Geoffrey wrote a history of Britain. He called it Historia Regum Britanniae {History of the Kings of Britain} & it begins with Brutus leading the Trojan exiles to the promised land of Britain, a "comprehensive yet highly suspect chronicle" that mixes history with myth & when history & myth fail, downright invention. It is a scream & it was highly popular & widely read though even back then the serious scholars of the time were up in arms about it. When brought to task Geoffrey was unrepentant. If his history wasn't strictly true then it should have been! Now that's an attitude I can sympathise with.


Sandra said...

The victor always gets to write the history. I enjoy your entertaining lessons.

seekingmyLord said...

"If his history wasn't strictly true then it should have been!"

I hope my daughter doesn't read this. She has the same idea as it is!

Diane Shiffer said...

i never knew that herodotus was the father of history *blush*

you wrote:"comprehensive yet highly suspect chronicle"
oh my... *snort*:D

MamaOlive said...

If I could somehow assimilate all you know and all my father knows, I'd be the smartest person in the world.
Too bad I have a permanantly pregnant brain and facts fall through like spaghetti sauce through a colander. (I end up with a few chunks!) :-)