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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences



Roman Historiography: An Introduction to its Basic Aspects and Development by Andreas Mehl, translated by Hans-Friedrich Mueller (Blackwell Introductions to the Classical World: Wiley-Blackwell) Roman Historiography: An Introduction to its Basic Aspects and Development presents a comprehensive introduction to the development of Roman historical writings in the ancient world. Andreas Mehl traces the arc of ancient historical writing about Rome from its origins with the authors of clan history and fragmentary annalists to the writings of Byzantine scholar Procopius, the last major historian of the ancient world. Rooting his survey in the context of its Greek predecessors, and within the broader framework of Roman literature and society, Mehl discusses every historical writer of significance in the ancient Roman era and provides much more than simple biographical detail. Also considered are essential themes such as genre, teleology, the idea of Rome, and exemplary moral conduct. By paying scrupulous attention to political context and religious developments throughout the ancient world, Mehl reveals the evolution and interpenetration of both pagan and Christian historiography.

This title offers a wealth of illuminating insights into the origins and development of the crucial historical writings of the living witnesses to the greatest empire the world has ever known.

Andreas Mehl's title, Roman Historiography: An Introduction to its Basic Aspects and Development, is deceptively modest. Rooting his erudite and readable discussion in the context of its Greek antecedents, Mehl traces ancient historical writing about Rome from its beginnings (clan history, Annales) to its ends in both West (Orosius) and East (Procopius). What is astonishing is not that Mehl manages to discuss by name almost every historical writer of even fragmentary significance (or less) or even that he looks at their works in terms of essential themes (e.g. genre, teleology, the idea of Rome, exemplary moral conduct; he summarizes all this in Chapter 8). Rather, two features stand out: scrupulous attention`to politi-cal context and to religious developments. These twin lenses allow us to observe the evolution (and interpenetration) of classically religious and Christian historiography — with novel insights. One example: many schol-ars dismiss Zosimus (fifth/sixth century AD) as derivative. Mehl, on the other hand, discovers a brilliant counterpart to Polybius (second century BO. Why? Both authors offered original interpretations of Roman history on the basis of religion. Bibliography, a catalogue of authors and editions, and an index lend added utility. Mehl's book should constitute required reading for serious students of Roman history and ancient religion, Christian or classical.

Scholars of Roman historiography, on the other hand, at least in the English-speaking world, may feel some disorientation when first they take this volume in hand. Much will seem familiar. Our scholarship too deals with truth, fiction, exemplarity, genre, narrative, rhetorical tropes. But Mehl's approach is not as literary. Politics, law, religion, Roman institu-tions, are integrated into the very texture of his argument. Mehl rescues more historical truth from ancient historiography than we have grown accustomed to expect from the more recent historiographical emphasis in English-language scholarship on ancient rhetoric. This scholarship, although it is certainly a factor in Mehl's survey, does not stand at its center. Mehl engages rather the German-language scholarship of Albrecht Dihle and Dieter Timpe, to name just two examples, with an immediate intensity scholarship in English generally reserves for such luminaries as A. J. Woodman or T. P. Wiseman. And, for this reason too, Mehl in English should appeal. This translation provides a snapshot of continental scholarship's approach to Roman historiography in a language more readily accessible to English-speaking scholars and students alike than the book's original academic German (a language no longer as widely or easily understood among us — to our loss).

A word of confession is in order. On Andreas Mehl's behalf and with his encouragement, I first proposed this translation in 2002. Al Bertrand, then editor of a rapidly growing catalogue in Classics, readily agreed, and asked me to translate. Serving as translator was not my original plan, nor was it in my proposal, but I believed in the book's importance, and (perhaps too) quickly agreed. Personal vicissitudes (pedestrian though they were) intervened, and work did not proceed smoothly, but the patience of Wiley-Blackwell, and the equally patient, but insistent, prods of subsequent editors, Haze Humbert and Galen Smith, kept my work on its slow and increasingly steady track to completion. I owe all three editors an enormous debt of gratitude, and offer here my public and sincerest thanks. VVhen I completed a draft in March 2010, things began to proceed rapidly. Despite a busy term at his university, speaking engagements, and numerous editorial deadlines for his current projects, Andreas Mehl read through the entire translation, and offered detailed corrections. I thank him for his patience, good humor, and cheerful diligence under pressure.

Although the subject of this book, ancient historiography and its practi-tioners, is a traditional one in the study of ancient history and classical philology, it requires some justification, or at least an explanation. General knowledge of, and new insights into, Greek and Roman culture has increased greatly since the nineteenth century, thanks in large measure to archeological discoveries and excavations as well as to insights provided by material culture and representational art. In this same period, literary documents — inscriptions, papyri, and coins — have not only increased the knowledge of scholars tremendously, but have also drawn the favorable attention of the general public especially when, in their reconstructions of the past, scholars have been able to combine archeological sources with their interpretations. This development shows no signs of abating, and has in fact only increased since the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This results not only from the attention and scrutiny elicited by various discoveries, i.e., the objects of historical investigation, but also to an even greater extent from a fundamental change in the perception of the public, that is, the subject who investigates. Outside the realm of professional scholarship (but also to some extent here too), people have turned their attention away from works of literature. These works, because artistically complex and intellectually dense, can be interpreted only with difficulty. As a result, many have turned to the (only apparently) simpler and more authentic world offered by visual representations as well as short and often formulaic administrative and technical texts, in the expectation that here, finally, we will easily discover the pure and simple truth about the ancient world.

The increase in knowledge from archeological, inscriptional, and other documentary sources may seem to diminish the importance of the historiographical traditions and literary texts of the Greeks and Romans, but this is hardly the case: non-literary documents, physical objects, and art-works may indeed provide detailed information, but only in regard to specific points. Now, as ever, our knowledge concerning ancient political history as a chronological sequence of circumstances rests almost entirely on Greek and Roman literature, primarily historiographical. Only in the broader context provided by this extensive continuum have we been able to make the specific advances in the knowledge that we have derived from the alternative sources just enumerated, and we may in fact appreciate their full historical value only when we anchor them in the wider web of history. If we also attempt to understand the past as it was experienced by the Greeks and Romans themselves (that is, according to their own understanding and critical awareness of their past in relation to their present — in short, their worldview as reflected in their past), we must do more than examine isolated facts from documents, material culture, and artworks — no matter how detailed or precise. If we seek their lived experience, we must turn to the reflections they record in their history. We find this rather specialized sort of meditation exclusively in literature, and above all in Greek and Roman historical writing. We find therefore two decisive reasons why anyone interested in the history of classical antiquity must continue to study, and learn to understand, ancient historiography as well as relevant authors and works.

There are considerable methodological differences between the study of ancient historiography and the modem practice of ancient history. As a result, we do not understand ancient methods as a matter of course. We must learn them, and, as far as Roman historiography is concerned, the present work offers some assistance. It has been conceived for students of the classics and ancient history in particular, but also for students of history more generally. It has also taken into consideration instructors in these areas. Beyond these specific groups, a wider circle of readers with interests in literature and history may find a useful introduction in these pages. For this reason, I have written the book in as generally accessible a fashion as possible. Chapters have been arranged chronologically. Subdivisions within chapters are partly chronological and partly devoted to questions of genre. This arrangement allows us to treat major developments in historiographical practice as well as individual authors and their works. In the analysis and critique of individual works, we direct our primary focus on content, form, and purpose as well as connections to other historiographical works and dependencies on them. We do this within the contexts of genre as well as language and style, and we also consider textual transmission (the history of the manuscripts on which our readings depend).

Some literary genres closely related to ancient historiography will receive occasional attention, such as early Roman historical epic in connection with our examination of Rome's first generation of historical writers (see below, Ch. 3.3, pp. 60ff.); antiquarian writing (see below, Ch. 4.6, pp. 96f.); chronography (see below, Ch. 4.1, pp. 69ff.; Ch. 5.2.4, pp. 119ff.; Ch. 7.3.2, pp. 223ff.); and exempla-literature (see below, Ch. 6.6, pp. 197f. ). Although biography was a completely separate literary genre according to the ancient conception of biography and as a matter of course to the ancient authors themselves, we will treat it in detail here, inasmuch as ancient biography, for the modem student of ancient history, stands as a source whose value is often equivalent to ancient historical narratives (see below, Ch. 4.4, pp. 81ff.; Ch. 6.3, pp. 16uff.; Ch. 6.4, pp. 178ff.). From the age of Augustus, we shall also include Greek authors and their works to the extent that Roman history was their theme (passim from Ch. 5.2, pp. 110ff.; compare Ch. 1.2, pp. 12f. with note 4, p. 256). Christianity will be understood and consciously treated as an ancient phenomenon. For this reason, this account will consider the development of historiography within the special context of Christianity as well as its development between classical religion and Christianity. This requires a thorough summary of early Christian conceptions of history in general as well as those specifically concerning Roman history, together with the theological basis for these ideas (see below, Ch. 6.3.3, pp. 171ff.; Ch. 6.5.2, pp. 191f; Ch. 7, pp. 199ff.). With the Christian Roman empire, one arrives at the epoch of the Germanic migrations and their impact on the Mediterranean. And with their historians, we find ourselves on the path to the Middle Ages, but an occasional glance in their direction is useful for the light these authors throw on the altered political situation of late antiquity with its concomitant shifts in outlook and "worldviews."

Readers will find in Chapter 8 a summary of various principles that informed Greek and Roman historical thinking. These results rest on the analyses of the preceding chapters. On the other hand, the arguments of Chapter 1 concerning the subject matter, origins, and characteristics of Roman historiography constitute the fundamental basis for comprehension of subsequent generalizations as well as the treatments of individual authors and works in Chapters 2 through 7. To facilitate the connections of general conclusions and arguments with information about individual authors and works, Chapter 1 offers numerous cross-references in advance, as it were, to details in subsequent chapters. The Roman historians we cite in this work are the relatively few among them whom we recognize as influential or about whom we have substantial knowledge. In the centrally important Chapters 2 through 7, effort has also been made to ensure that important aspects of historiographical issues under discussion will be mani-fest in the structure of these chapters themselves. Tides and subtitles have been designed as a chronological as well as historiographical map. The introductory paragraphs to these chapters provide orientation to contemporary political conditions and to the general characteristics of historiographical developments in the period under discussion as well as basic information about, and critical assessments of, the authors and works treated. More important ancient historians and biographers find a place by name as well in the subtitles and subdivisions of these chapters. All authors and works treated in this work may be found with references to the relevant pages in the "Index of Ancient Authors and Works."

The book has been conceived as a comprehensive basic introduction. Students who pursue a relevant discipline should find that this book will enable and facilitate further independent work. To this end, this work presents diverse modern views on critical issues and provides a select bibliography, which, of course, represents but a tiny fraction of international scholarship currently on abundant offer. Citation to secondary literature in the main text of this work as well as in footnotes has been limited to controversial points and verbatim quotations. Sections 2 through 7 in the Bibliography correspond to Chapters 2 through 7. The first section of the Bibliography has been divided into four subsections: (§1.1): ancient historical works, biographical works, and historical epics, together with commentaries and translations for respective authors and works; (§1.2): individual editions and, more crucially, collections of fragmentary works; (§1.3): recent standard reference works on the history of Greek and Roman literature and historiography; and (§1.4): other secondary works not devoted to individual authors or works, but to ancient, especially Roman, historiography and biography or their literary, social, and intellectual contexts.

Modern secondary literature is cited by the author's last name and with a number in square brackets [ ...] that refers to the section of the Bibliography where the full reference may be found. In those cases where further identifying details will be necessary, a keyword from the title will be provided immediately after the Bibliography's section number. Citations lacking a reference to a specific section of the Bibliography are always citations to editions of collected fragments either of historical works or of historical epics. These editions have all been grouped in section 1.2 of the Bibliography. Because their number is so large, only general reference can be made here to the detailed reviews of secondary literature pertaining to epochs, authors, and works of Roman historical writing that may be found in the internationally collaborative collection Aufstieg und Niedergang der rdmischen Welt ("Rise and Decline of the Roman World" = ANRW), which had been published in Berlin and New York since 1972, but has beeen abandoned before reaching its conclu-sion. The Bibliography does nevertheless contain references to some individual contributions to ANRW.

If readers engage more closely on their own with the subject matter of this book, they will of necessity turn to modern editions of ancient works, commentaries, and translations according to the needs of their independent pursuits. A selective guide to the most important of these publications may be found in section 1.1 of the Bibliography. Ancient historical works in Greek and Latin have been transmitted to us in an altogether incomplete and fragmentary state. Scholars have exerted every effort to reduce especially large gaps in the tradition through the collection (mostly with commentary) of fragmentary works or lost works documented in other ancient works (generally the works of other, later ancient authors). These editions of fragments help us to assign the proper place of individual historians in the development of ancient historiography as well as to appreciate individual achievement or, on the other hand, evaluate dependency on and deviation from predecessors. These qualities are admittedly difficult to measure, inasmuch as ancient historians did not systematically cite their sources. Working with texts that have come down to us in fragmentary condition requires a certain technical expertise as well as some practical experience.

We may refer here once again to the editions collected in section 1.2 of the Bibliography on pp. 270ff. The guide provided here to the peculiar requirements of working with fragments should also assist readers in following the discussions that this book devotes to the subject.

Those Roman historians who wrote in Greek have been collected in the Greek collection of Jacoby et al., Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker ("The Fragments of the Greek Historians"), which we cite as FGrH. These Greek authors of Roman history have likewise been collected in the Roman, i.e., mostly Latin, collection of Peter, Historicorum Romanorum Reliquiae ("The Remains of the Roman Historians"), which we cite as HRR. Early Roman historical writers up to Lucius Scribonius Libo and autobiographers up to Lucius Cornelius Sulla are, regardless of the language of their works, now likewise printed in the three volumes of Chassignet, L'Annalistique Romaine ("Roman Annalistic Writing"), which we cite as AR. For historical writers up to Titus Pomponius Atticus, we also use the two-volume edition of Beck and Walter, Die frfihen riimischen Historiker ("The Early Roman Historians"), which we cite as FRH. For the fragments of Cato's Origines, we cite not AR, but Chassignet's separate edition devoted to this work, which we cite as CC Surviving fragments of the works of later Roman historians (i.e., from the end of the Republican period, from the imperial period, and from late antiquity) can at present generally be found only in HRR (the exception would be individual historians whose fragments have been collected in separate editions). For some years, the scholarly community has eagerly awaited the new edition with English translation of HRR that has been announced by Timothy J. Cornell, Christopher J. Smith, and Edward Bispham, but this edition has not yet appeared. To the extent then that it is possible, these fragmentary collections will be cited in parallel.

The monumental work of the FGrH unfortunately still remains incomplete. For this reason, we must partially — although not for the very first Roman historians who wrote in Greek — make use especially of the older collection of Miiller, his Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum ("Fragments of the Greek Historians"), which we cite as FHG. Because, however, it provides the fragments more comprehensively and with better commentary, the FGrH is decidedly better than the FHG. The FGrH consists of volumes of various types. The text volumes provide ancient evidence for particular authors (each designated with a unique ordinal number) and their works (Testimonia = T. with consecutive enumeration of individual works) as well as verbatim quotations and paraphrases of content from their works which have not survived as such (these are the fragments = F. with consecutive enumeration). There are also volumes of commentary (the first volumes were composed in German, later volumes in English) as well as volumes containing notes to the volumes of commentary. The capital and lower case letters that appear on the spines of the volumes fail to provide a systematic means for their identification, and are thus best ignored by the user.

The two-volume collection of HRR is in need of supplements and revision, but, as we note above, has not yet been replaced. In this work, Roman numerals are used for the pages on which we find the modem account of, or commentary on, each particular author and his work. Arabic numerals are used for the pages that reproduce the consecutively numbered testimony ("witnesses" to the original text) and fragments. Differently from the practice of FGrH, the authors in HRR are not consecutively enumerated. The second volume, which begins with Marcus Tullius Cicero, starts its pagination afresh with Roman as well as with Arabic numerals. We must therefore include the volume number (I or II) with the citation. When we first take up a relevant author, we must thus also provide two citations: first with Roman numerals for those pages where we find the account of the author and then with Arabic numerals for the pages where we find the author's fragments. AR is arranged like HRR, and citations to it will be made analogously.' The authors in FRH are, as in FGrH, consecutively numbered. For this reason, to the extent that it is necessary, authors will be cited according to their author numbers in FGrH and FRH, but according to their page numbers in HRR and AR, or in both cases the name of the ancient author in question will be provided. One must keep in mind that as a consequence of the uncertain chronology in the sequence of these authors and their works, discrepancies will arise between the various collections of fragments as well as with this work.

Since the publication of FGrH, Part Four, TV A, Fascicle 1 (nos. 1000ff.), in 1998, the editors have begun including English translations of the fragments of the texts they reproduce. AR includes French translations, and FRH includes German translations of the fragments of the texts (in addition to extensive explanatory notes and commentary). For those fragments presented without translation, one must search for a translation under the author and work from which the fragment in question derives. The information necessary for identifying the source for a fragment will be provided by the collection of fragments in the form of a citation. The collection will, however, employ standard abbreviations for ancient authors and their works. To decipher these abbreviations, one must turn to standard lexicons of Greek and Latin which provide lists of abbreviations. Examples include the Greek—English Lexicon compiled by H. G. Liddell and R. Scott, revised and augmented throughout by H. S. Jones, with the assistance of R. McKenzie et al., Oxford, 1940 (ninth edition), With a Revised Supplement by P. G. W. Glare and A. A. Thompson, Oxford, 1996, and the Oxford Latin Dictionary, edited by P. G. W. Glare, Oxford, 1968-1982. Information about ancient authors who wrote in Greek or Latin and their works as well as about anonymously composed or preserved works in Greek or Latin, including bibliographical references to editions of the text, translations, bilingual editions, and commentaries can be found in numerous lexicons devoted to the ancient world and to ancient authors or ancient literature.

Addendum to this edition: When Hans-Friedrich Mueller took up the idea of translating my Rdmische Geschichtsschreibung into English, I was very naive about the translation of such a book, and I thus found his proposal pleasing without considering the difficulties and even risks of such an enterprise. Indeed, as I have learnt since, the peculiarities of the traditional academic German language would have rendered a translation of my book into Latin much easier than into English. Nonetheless, I am convinced that Hans-Friedrich Mueller has been successful with his translation. I see three reasons for his success: he is a classicist, his parents are American and German, and he worked hard, taking an enormous amount of time for his work of translation.

Past Minds: Studies in Cognitive Historiography by Luther Martin and Jesper Sorensen (Religion, Cognition, Culture: Equinox) How do historians understand the minds, motivations, intentions of historical agents? What might evolutionary and cognitive theorizing contribute to this work? What is the relation between natural and cultural history? Historians have been intrigued by such questions ever since publication in 1859 of Darwin's The Origin of Species, itself the historicization of biology. This interest reemerged in the latter part of the twentieth century among a number of biologists, philosophers and historians, reinforced by the new interdisciplinary finding of cognitive scientists about the universal capacities of and constraints upon human minds. The studies in this volume, primarily by historians of religion, continue this discussion by focusing on historical examples of ancient religions as well as on the theoretical promises and problems relevant to that study.

In May 2007, the Institute of Cognition and Culture, Queen's University Belfast, sponsored an international symposium on the theme of this volume, "Past Minds: Evolution, Cognition, and History." The papers in this volume are selected from among those present-ed at this symposium, especially those focusing on historical examples of ancient religions and those addressing theoretical issues relevant to that study. We would like to thank all of those who participated in this symposium, especially those who revised their papers for this volume. And we would like to thank the Institute of Cognition and Culture, its students, and its director, Dr. Jesse Bering, and the European Office of Aerospace Research and Development, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, United States Air Force Research Laboratory, for their generous support and for their contributions to the success of this conference and this volume.

The book is divided into four parts. Part One, Introduction, contains two chapters. In the first, Luther H. Martin outlines the historical development of the relation between historiography on the one hand and evolutionary and cognitive theorizing on the other. He traces the shifting attitudes towards both mentalist and Darwinian approaches all the way from nineteenth and early twentieth century scholars such as Macallister and Harrison to current discussions between selectionist and attractor-based notions of human cultural transmission. In the second chapter, Christophe Heintz discusses how cultural epidemiol-ogy might inform historiography by modeling the influence of evolved cognitive systems on the spread of particular ideas and, subsequently, how this might be said to account for both cultural stability and historical change.

The four chapters that constitute Part Two, Minds and Ancient Civilizations, each address a particular empirical case. In Chapter 3 Gabriel Levy investigates the case of Juda-ism and argues that bottom-up approaches cannot account for particularities of Jewish culture as well as the impact of its particular mental abilities such as intelligence. Instead he opts for a top-down approach claiming that niche-construction and co-evolutionary processes have influenced genetic selection in the Jewish population and, as such, contingent historical factors can have a significant impact on evolutionary processes as well as vice versa. In Chapter 4 Peter Westh addresses how the cognitive optimum theory of religious representations argued by Pascal Boyer can be applied to ancient textual sources, in this case Assyro-Babylonian divine epithets, and to what extent this type of textual data should lead to a revision of the theory. Westh argues that textual sources might result in a more intuitively informed description of gods (i.e. being less counterintuitive than expected) as texts provide an alternative way to transmit cultural knowledge that does not depend on individual humans' memory. Turning to a comparative case, Christian Prager discusses the evolutionary and cognitive underpinnings of a particular symbolic phenomenon in Chapter 5. Based on cognitive understandings of symbolism as well as knowledge of aesthetically preferred landscapes stemming from evolutionary psychology, Prager investigates the often noted, but rarely explained, world-wide dispersal and stability of tree-symbolism and, in particular, its role in Mesoamerican cultures. In Chapter 6, Dirk Johannsen discusses how cognitive theories can help explain the co-existence and persistence of an oral tradition of the "Hidden People» together with standardized Lutheran Christianity in eighteenth and nineteenth century Norway. Making use of Pascal Boyer's repertoire of domain-violations and access to social strategic information, as well as of cognitive narratology, he analyzes how such violations dramatically enhance the explicability of life-events (e.g. sudden disease) and, at the same time, serve a narrative function as a central aspect of the plot.

Part Three, Roman Minds, consists of five chapters each of which addresses a historical case in the Roman period. In Chapter 7 Anders Lisdorf analyses the extensive use of omens and prodigies in the Roman Republic during a 200-year period. Lisdorf argues that understanding human cognitive systems can shed new light on the type of prodigies accepted, as well as how these were distributed through different strata of Roman society. In Chapter 8, Ales Chalupa discusses how cognitive science might help answer the old riddle of the origins and rapid spread of Mithraism. Focusing on questions of ritual performance and transmission of religious ideas can supply new information to help the historian fill in the gaps in the historical record and thus reconstruct a likely historical scenario. Keeping with the theme of ritual, in Chapter 9 Douglas Gragg tests the ritual form hypothesis of Lawson and McCauley on the description of a ritual initiation found in a literary source, The Golden Ass by Apuleius. Gragg argues that an apparently potential problem for the theory, Lucius' second and third initiation into the mysteries of Isis, in fact supports the theory as these are regarded as extraordinary in the narrative itself Turning to the topic of anthropomorphism, Ulrich Berner points in Chapter 10 to the important role of this con-cept in recent cognitive theories of religion as well as to its ancient roots in Greco-Roman scepticism in general and in the writings of Lucian of Samosata in particular. He warns that explaining religious conceptualization does not amount to an explanation of religion in general and that other methods must complement cognitive approaches in order to create a fuller picture. Finally, in Chapter 11 István Czachesz develops a cognitive explanation of magic and tests it from early Christianity. He argues that situations of operant condition-ing with a variable reinforcement in themselves produce a ritualized magical response and, when combined with widespread miracle stories as well as explicit explanations, a positive feedback loop emerges whereby stories and explanations reinforce rituals and vise verse.

In the final part of the book, Conclusion, the perspective is once again widened in two chapters that discuss at the theoretical level the relation between historiography, cognitive science and evolutionary models. In Chapter 12, Don Wiebe critically accesses the potential role of social science and historiography for current evolutionary psychology. He criticizes evolutionary psychology for being overly reductionistic and, in fact, leaving no room for complementary approaches. Instead he calls for a pluralistic approach that acknowledges emergent levels of explanations of human phenomena and the need for a combination of evolutionary, cognitive and social scientific / historiographical approaches. In Chapter 13 Jesper Sorensen points to the inherent tension in historiography between contingent and particular facts, on the one hand, and the more or less explicit systems or structures understood as binding events together in narrative strings, on the other. He out-lines three analytical models of the relation between psychology, socio-cultural systems and contingent historical events and discusses these in relation to the temporal scope as well as the explicit investigative concern of the historian.

But what is all the fuss really about? Why do historians need to concern themselves with cognitive science and evolutionary modeling? While this book has a lot to say in that regard, a short quote at the outset might point to a common denominator between the different views expressed. In his 1994 article, E. Thomas Lawson concluded that historians have a stake in the debate over the role of cognitive [and evolutionary] theorizing for historiographical method (Lawson 1994, 482). If historians "are willing to make assumptions about the transmission of tradition, then it is their job," he challenges, "to help in identifiing the mechanisms which underwrite such a process" (Lawson 1994, 483, emphasis original). From this perspective, historians—including historians of religion—are not only begin-ning to employ evolutionary and cognitive theorizing in their historiographical work but are becoming potential contributors of evidence for our understanding of such theorizing. We hope that the contributions to this volume might contribute to this project by offering some examples of such historiographical work while at the same time inquiring into the relevance and inferences of evolutionary and cognitive theorizing for that work.


How Gibbon came to his History

Barbarism and Religion: Two Volumes by J. G. A. Pocock (Cambridge University Press) "Barbarism and Religion"--Edward Gibbon's own phrase--is the title of a sequence of works by John Pocock designed to situate Gibbon, and his Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, in a series of contexts in the history of eighteenth-century Europe. This is a major intervention from one of the world's leading historians of ideas, challenging the idea of "The Enlightenment" and positing instead a plurality of enlightenments, of which the English was one. Professor Pocock argues that the English Enlightenment of which Gibbon was part was an ecclesiastical as well as a secular phenomenon, one of several Protestant Enlightenments distinct from that of the Parisian philosophes, and an aspect of the reconstitution of Europe after the wars against Louis XIV.  In the first volume, The Enlightenments of Edward Gibbon Pocock follows Gibbon through his youthful exile in Switzerland and his criticisms of the Encyclopd'edie, and traces the growth of his historical interests down to the conception of the Decline and Fall itself. The second volume of Barbarism and Religion explores the historiography of Enlightenment, and looks at Gibbon's intellectual relationship with writers such as Voltaire, Hume and Adam Smith. Given the breadth of Pocock’s erudition it is not recommended for the academically shallow. The style is challenging, the references intermittently difficult to understand. But even when tempted to subject some of his findings or even his take on major cultural issues to task, his indefatigable marshalling of evidence and telling detail makes this a major work of distinction. Historiography as biography. A masterpiece. Pocock may provide more detail than many of us are used to, but his study of the emerging historical consciousness of Gibbon does much to provide a compelling version of how the enlightenment worked and provoked Gibbon’s own point-of-view. The work then offers more a tour of European enlightenments as they influenced this major British historian. It will add to the pleasure of reading the Decline and Fall as it provides the subtext of how Gibbon transformed the epochs of the Roman Emperors and Byzantium into post-Christian school lessons for modern history. Pocock may provide more detail than many of us are used to, but his study of the emerging historical consciousness of Gibbon does much to provide a compelling version of how the enlightenment worked and provoked Gibbon’s own point-of-view. The work then offers more a tour of European enlightenments as they influenced this major British historian. It will add to the pleasure of reading the Decline and Fall as it provides the subtext of how Gibbon transformed the epochs of the Roman Emperors and Byzantium into post-Christian school lessons for modern history.  Recommended.

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