Historia and Fabula: Myths and Legends in Historical Thought from Antiquity to the Modern Age

Overview

Historical thought, whether it is expressed in writing or through works of art, inevitably contains elements of fiction. Thus in every phase of the development of historical thinking the question arises: were these fictional elements recognized and if so, how was their function perceived? Was any effort made to distinguish between a documented fact and any assumptions or deductions related to it? In examining the past, was it deemed important to curb the free play of imagination or was it thought that any ...

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Overview

Historical thought, whether it is expressed in writing or through works of art, inevitably contains elements of fiction. Thus in every phase of the development of historical thinking the question arises: were these fictional elements recognized and if so, how was their function perceived? Was any effort made to distinguish between a documented fact and any assumptions or deductions related to it? In examining the past, was it deemed important to curb the free play of imagination or was it thought that any explanation, no matter how fanciful and irrational, was better than none? This is the question that this book attempts to answer. In doing so, it examines a rich variety of texts and also some works of art ranging from the Ancient Near East to the nineteenth century.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Bietenholz's extended essay is interesting not only as compilation but also as argument."
Thomas V. Cohen, Canadian Journal of History, 1995.

"Comparative mythologists and students of religion will find this very readable summary, with its sparsely but well selected representations, to be a helpful preface to the new complexities and renewed interpenetrations of historia and fibula in the twentieth century."
Roy Arthur Swanson, Religious Studies Review, 1995.

Booknews
Explores the extent to which elements of fiction or imagination embedded in historical works have been recognized by historians and how they decided to deal with them. Begins with the earliest historical inquiries in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Israel, and among the Hittites; then follows developments and changes through the classical Graeco-Roman period; the Middle Ages; the Renaissance, especially the view of The Golden Age; early-modern Biblical scholarship and accounts of the origin of Rome; to the 19th century. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Peter G. Bietenholz, Dr.Phil. In History, University of Basel, Switzerland, is Professor of History at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada. His publications include books on Erasmus of Rotterdam, religious toleration and the impact of printed books.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Sigla
Introduction: The problem to be studied. Definition of key terms. The beginnings of historical thinking: Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Hittites, ancient Israel 1
Ch. 1 The Graeco-Roman Period
I Greece: Hesiod, Herodotus, Thucydides and invented speeches, Euhemerus and Palaephatus, the Amazons 21
II Rome: Livy, Romulus and some emperors proclaimed to be gods, Cicero and the historian's craft, Sextus Empiricus 46
Ch. 2 Fabula and Historia. The Consciousness of the Past in the Middle Ages
I Jacobus a Voragine's Legenda aurea: gospel figures 62
II The Legenda aurea: emperors 73
III Legends of the popes 85
IV The Popess Joan 97
V Pope Silvester II 108
Ch. 3 Gog, Magog and the Latter-Day Emperor
I Judaeo-Christian eschatology; Fredegar 118
II The Mongols and Prester John 127
III The Barbarossa myth 137
Ch. 4 The Renaissance Period (1300-1600)
I Terminological refinements; a new sense of complexity 146
II Towards an identification of myth: Dante, Boccaccio and Erasmus 150
III Legendary saints and the heroes of Antiquity 157
IV Joan of Arc 162
V William Tell 169
VI Arminius 179
Ch. 5 Ad Fontes. Renaissance Genealogy and the Myth of the Golden Age
I The descent from Troy 189
II Nascent critique of fabulous genealogies 195
III The monumental tomb of Maximilian I and other portrait galleries 199
IV The Golden Age; historia and fabula in balance 207
Ch. 6 Old Testament Scholarship in the Early Modern Age
I Outline of the age 220
II The 'neutral' study of the Old Testament; Joseph Scaliger and Richard Simon 222
III The progress of fabula; Bochart, Kircher and La Peyrere 232
IV The birth of the concept of sovereign myth; Spinoza, Vico, Herder and Eichhorn 247
V Blurring the division line; Bossuet, Reimarus, Semler and accommodation 258
Ch. 7 The Early Modern Age and the Origins of Rome
I Prehistory defies the chronologers 270
II Prehistory defies the antiquarians 275
III The discovery of the mythical age; Fontenelle and Heyne 282
IV The origins of Rome; the sceptics: Du Temps and Cluverius 288
V The origins of Rome; defenders of the tradition: Vossius, Perizonius 298
VI The theory of myth applied to Rome; Heyne 305
Ch. 8 Historia and Fabula in the New Testament
I Limiting the sway of divine inspiration: Origen, Richard Simon and J.D. Michaelis 311
II The English Deists 316
III New Testament myths and the historical Jesus; David Friedrich Strauss 325
Ch. 9 The Nineteenth Century
I The Romantics and mythology 336
II Hypercriticism: historia denounced as fabula. Old myths in the service of nationalism 339
III Bachofen: from the mythical prehistory of Rome to matriarchy 350
IV The last scholarly defenders of the historicity of Genesis 369
V Historical subjects in nineteenth-century art: David, Gros, Werner 375
Conclusion 396
Appendix I: Renaissance humanism and the problem of grace without baptism 407
Appendix II: The debate on the origins of Rome in the Academie des Inscriptions 416
Index of Persons 423
Illustrations 435
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