U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Covid-19 Information Page
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > History
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Old 10-02-2014, 02:17 PM
1,030 posts, read 1,328,746 times
Reputation: 2401


History is one of my favorite subjects, what I am curious about is if historians in the far past such as Herodotus, Thucydides, Quintus Fabius Pictor, etc. It seems as if historians in the past were more into writing down general basic information. Sure we can get a general idea of what happened, but my question is why weren't historians of the time meticulous in detailing the history of the time? Such as how big the Roman military of the time, or just go into detail about the kings/emperors etc.

Also, it is known that some historians injected their own thoughts and feelings rather than just state the facts, making it so that of the ancient historical accounts we do know are dubious if what they wrote was correct or not.

I just am curious why historians of the past were not much for detail or going into great depth of the history of the time it is written. Wouldn't people like Herodotus WANT people in the future to know everything that happened?
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

Old 10-02-2014, 02:46 PM
13,991 posts, read 20,208,461 times
Reputation: 23487
I am not knowledgable about these historians (Greek I believe?) but my guess is because most of their "facts" are simply stories handed down from generation to generation - as written records were pretty rare and reference libraries practically non-existent. Not that they were totally wrong, oral traditions are suprisngly accurate. But they are colored by the teller of these tales. I would guess he may have "fact-checked" by the few written records around - list of rulers, maybe some tax records, and so forth.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 10-02-2014, 03:03 PM
42,466 posts, read 26,450,018 times
Reputation: 14092
Have you not read Thucydides? EVERY detail of waging war is included, meticulously.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 10-02-2014, 03:04 PM
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
48,571 posts, read 20,525,164 times
Reputation: 20981
Modern history, presentations where the truth of matters takes the highest priority, is a relatively modern concept. It dates to the first quarter of the 19th Century when Leopold von Ranke, a German history professor, began to formulate and advocate standards which historians should meet in their work. He was the first to conceive of the historian as a neutral story teller rather than someone with a persuasive agenda, be it religious or political. He created a huge controversy when he published a history of Prussia which treated it as the small princedom that it was rather than as a great and powerful state.

von Ranke also promoted the idea of the historian being non judgmental based on changing morals and present day attitudes. von Ranke argued for trying to grasp the mentalities of past generations and presenting their story as they would have seen it rather than as a judge sometime in the future would see it.

(I would add that von Ranke did not always succeed in producing bias free texts himself, he wrote from the limited perspective of an 19th Century European, but at least he identified that as the goal.)

Before von Ranke, history was seen as a purposeful endeavor. One wrote about the past in order to instruct the present day readers with the proper moral lesson, or one wrote about history to serve the present day needs of the state, which meant that whitewashing and sweeping the embarrassing stuff under the carpet was perfectly acceptable.

Roman historians wrote for the glory of Rome, or sometimes the glory of the current Roman emperor, and it is wise to keep that in mind when reading those sources. It was approved history in the sense that the goal was not the unvarnished truth, the goal was related to the impact the writing would have on the readers. Think of it in terms of how Hollywood treats history, the truth will always be subordinate to the goal of producing an entertaining and popular motion picture. Those facts which fit with the goal may be left intact, those which were found to be at cross purposes with the goal, may be overlooked or changed.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 10-02-2014, 07:32 PM
11,991 posts, read 5,791,411 times
Reputation: 6614
Remember, the winners write the history.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 10-02-2014, 08:48 PM
31,371 posts, read 33,761,762 times
Reputation: 14928
I'm a bit confused...

How do we know so many details of life in Rome, Egypt, China or any other part of the world where those living contemporaneously had not recorded the events, lives, and politics of their time?
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.

Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > History
Similar Threads

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:47 AM.

© 2005-2021, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Contact Us - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 - Top