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Ancient History: Evidence and Models Hardcover – December 18, 1999

4 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Hardcover, December 18, 1999
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From Publishers Weekly

In ancient times war was universally held to be a natural condition, so Rome's claim to fight only just wars, hypocritical though it may have been, reflected a genuine conflict of values. University of Cambridge historian Finley brings to these reflections on ancient history an insistence that we avoid imposing our own preconceptions on the way things actually were. His short polemic reminds us that primary sources are inexact, archeological evidence is scanty, statistics are suspect, and that the ancients liked to invent; Thucydides' chronicles notwithstanding, we will never be certain what Pericles told the Athenian assembly in 430 b.c. Finley knocks sociologist Max Weber for putting too much emphasis on Greek demagogues' charisma; rabble-rousers' platforms and promises are what swayed the masses, he maintains. He asserts that it is up to each historian to ask the right questions and supply a meaningful conceptual framework, and this underlying credo gives these scholarly essays point and pith. February
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'The most influential ancient historian of our time Indisputably the most valuable writing on ancient history since 1945.', New York Review of Books --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 144 pages
  • Publisher: ACLS History E-Book Project (December 18, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597400432
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597400435
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,452,585 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
The book consists of six essays, four of which are based on prior lectures and were revised for this publication. The author, a professor of ancient history, discusses various methodological issues that significantly affect the research and writing of history about the ancient world. The six essays discuss the following issues: (1) what constitutes progress in the historiography of ancient Greece and ancient Rome; (2) what kinds of source materials are available to historians of ancient Greece and ancient Rome, and what are the strengths, weaknesses, and limitations of those source materials; (3) how useful and reliable are ancient documents to the historian, especially in light of their often incomplete and fragmentary nature; (4) what does it mean for a historian to try to tell history "how it really was" (Leopold von Ranke's "wie es eigentlich gewesen"); (5) whether historians have failed to discuss war in the ancient world in terms of its own historical context, without interjecting modern anachronisms into their discussions; and (6) the pros and cons of Max Weber's description of the ancient Greek city-state.

In the Epilogue, the author summarizes and reiterates four contentions that constitute the crucial themes for the discussions in his six essays: (i) the study of history is not a science; (ii) because historical evidence does not speak for itself, the historian "must ask the right questions ...
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