The Archaeology of Nostalgia

The Archaeology of Nostalgia

by John Boardman
     
 
The Greeks were obsessed with their past; it infused every aspects of their culture. In this interesting and insightful book, John Boardman explores 'How the Greeks re-created their mythical past' in a physical, artistic and literary sense and how they drew on this nostalgia to comment on contemporary behaviour. He discusses how finds of massive fossil bones, strange

Overview

The Greeks were obsessed with their past; it infused every aspects of their culture. In this interesting and insightful book, John Boardman explores 'How the Greeks re-created their mythical past' in a physical, artistic and literary sense and how they drew on this nostalgia to comment on contemporary behaviour. He discusses how finds of massive fossil bones, strange natural features and eerie places, along with stories from other cultures, plus a bit of imagination, were combined to form the essence of Greek myth. 'By the end of this book the reader may be persuaded that a major source for Greek myth was also the result of the Greeks' imaginative response to the natural world around them and to the artefacts of their predecessors'.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Anyone who s visited Paul Bunyan s birthplace or seen a George Washington Slept Here plaque will feel a pang of recognition at this engaging survey of the material basis of Greek mythology in the Classical era. According to Boardman, an authority on Greek art and archaeology, the Greeks saw little distinction between myth and history. They drew on their natural surroundings, the visible remnants of faded civilizations and artistic representations borrowed from abroad to provide tangible confirmation of existing myth-histories and inspire new ones. To them, fossils were the remains of giants and sea-monsters, an anthropomorphic out-cropping became the petrified body of a weeping maiden, and Mycenaean ruins marked the citadels of Homeric kings; meanwhile, the flourishing of Greek art made depictions of mythical narratives a ubiquitous backdrop to everyday life. The Greeks had few hang-ups about authenticity or attribution; antique weapons and bric-a-brac were assumed to be relics of the local demi-god or hero, and any respectable town could boast a house where a mythical personage had lived. A cottage industry grew up to supply copies and forgeries to memorabilia-poor areas and facilitated an extensive tourist economy in Roman times. As a result, the pious Greek was well aware that he walked and lived in a physical world that had been shared by heroes, nymphs and gods. Combining scholarly erudition, an accessible style, and crisp black-and-white photos of Greek art and architecture, Boardman brings this great cultural effort to life. 183 illustrations (Feb. 24) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Retired professor Boardman (classical archaeology and art, Oxford) adds yet another citation to his long list of publications, which includes at least four "Oxford History" volumes. Here he investigates how the ancient Greeks' obsession with their remote past is manifested in their mythology. They used mythological interpretation to explain both their natural surroundings and the remains of artifacts and ruins left by their ancestors. For example, notes Boardman, the fossil bones of a mammoth were imagined to be the skeleton of a mythical giant, Kyklopes. The author also discusses Greek beliefs-not historical reality-and interprets ruins, artifacts, literature, and landscape to present the ancient Greeks' own view of their heroic age, when gods lived among mortals. This topic may sound esoteric, but Boardman's style is compelling and easy to read. Well indexed and illustrated, the book includes a glossary of related paraphrased passages translated from ancient Greek. Ken Dowden (The Uses of Greek Mythology) and Fritz Graf (Greek Mythology) also discuss the purposes, origins, and development of Greek myth, though neither author takes Boardman's approach. Most suitable for larger academic libraries or specialized collections.-Nancy J. Mactague, Aurora Univ. Lib., IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780500051153
Publisher:
Thames & Hudson
Publication date:
03/28/2003
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
10.40(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.10(d)

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