Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > World History Forum > Ancient History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

Ancient History Ancient History Forum - Greece, Rome, Carthage, Egypt, Mesopotamia, and all other civilizations of antiquity, to include Prehistory and Archaeology discussions


View Poll Results: Was there a "Decline & Fall" of the Classical Historian in the 4th century?
NO 6 46.15%
YES 7 53.85%
OTHER 0 0%
Voters: 13. You may not vote on this poll

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old December 4th, 2016, 09:30 AM   #21

Moros's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Jun 2012
Posts: 2,961

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kookaburra Jack View Post
Ammianus and Precopius are generally held to be the last major [classical] historians of the ancient Western world. They are concerned with political history as distinct from church (Ecclesiastical) history which, as I have introduced above, as a newly invented historiographical form, witnessed a dramatic popularity from the rule of Constantine.

It immediately follows that with the loss of Ammianaus' earlier books we have a number of church histories for the epoch 325-353 CE but no political histories. By Classical 'style' I simply mean profane / political histories.
Herodotus is full of religion as a motivation for action - just look at the number of times he refers to 'prophecies' from the Delphic Oracle that influenced the response of leaders. So I'm guessing Herodotus isn't 'classical?' What about Roman historians who saw Rome as a child of Mars, and give accounts of how the gods favoured this leader or that? What about the histories about Alexander the Great - the demigod whose conquests were divinely approved or prefigured? Are these not 'classical'?

Or should we just clarify? - by 'classical' you basically mean 'doesn't focus on Christianity as an historically important part of history'? By that definition, then of course there was a decline, since you are clearly aware of history and know what impact Christianity had. But was it a fall - in that the quality of historical writing became any less? (and bear in mind that you still haven't clarified any 'classical style' - ie you've only given your perception of the subject matter, not the style of research/presentation).

Last edited by Moros; December 4th, 2016 at 09:54 AM.
Moros is offline  
Remove Ads
Old December 4th, 2016, 10:18 AM   #22
Suspended until March 19th, 2018
 
Joined: Mar 2013
From: Escandinavia y Mesopotamia
Posts: 1,180

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kookaburra Jack View Post
I read and cite Arnaldo Momigliano who is considered a continuator of Gibbon.
And……?

Quote:
Perhaps everything written by Momigliano is now suspect?
I have not consulted Momigliano’s works, but if he is an Edward Gibberish’s Italian disciple and is perpetuating the same Gibberish outdated craps I have easily debunked, then he is incorrect just as I have demonstrated it in my post number 2.

Quote:
Shall we burn Momigliano's books along with Gibbons?
You mean If he is perpetuating the same outdated Gibbonic doctrine from 1700’s that do not correspond very well with what the scholars state these days in the 21th century? - No, I will not recommend burning them as that would be awful waste as they would be more useful as toilet paper after eating spicy tandoori or maybe kifte. – But if Edward Gibbon was caught by the Spanish Inquisition and was sentenced to burning I would gladly help the monks to start the fire for sentencing him for bad history lesson.

As an atheist and as a student of history at the university where Ancient Grece/Rome and Middle Ages were part of my carriculum I can fairly tell the readers that your 1700's-narrative is a load of tendentious crap that would be rapidly rejected at the campus.
El Cid is offline  
Old December 4th, 2016, 06:49 PM   #23

Kookaburra Jack's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: May 2011
From: Rural Australia
Posts: 2,303

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chlodio View Post
Kookaburra Jack: "That's interesting. Does the source provide any causes for the "fall"?"

I'm not able to find this source just now, nor am I able to recall a cause. For what my opinion is worth, I would point to the rise of the chronicle / annal format in the late 4th century.
We might then add the rise of the chronical/annal format to the earlier rise in the proliferation of "Ecclesiastical Histories".


Quote:
We know that history continued to be written in the 5th century. It might be more a case of 5th century narrative history not being copied and perpetuated by Medieval copyists. Because chronicles and annals use a kind of bullet format, they can cover a hundred years or more in just a few pages. They were easier and faster to copy than longer narrative histories that covered less topic.
By the same token important bullet points may have been purposefully omitted. Entire books such as the earlier series of Ammianus have been "lost" and I do not necessary subscribe to the hypothesis that this loss was accidental. Unprofessional history writing during this epoch must be discussed and evaluated, such as the "Historia Augusta". What on earth is this Latin "mockumentary" and exercise in forged documents?


Quote:
Priscus of Panium may have written hundreds of pages about Attila the Hun, but all that Medieval scholars wanted to know about Attila could be listed in half a dozen bullets. Why copy a hundred pages of narrative when a chronicle says everything you need in just a few pages? Or so thought the Medieval copyists to our great loss.
I am inclined to believe that one of the defining characteristics of the classical histories is their narrative style of presenting political history.
Kookaburra Jack is offline  
Old December 4th, 2016, 06:57 PM   #24

Kookaburra Jack's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: May 2011
From: Rural Australia
Posts: 2,303

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moros View Post
Herodotus is full of religion as a motivation for action - just look at the number of times he refers to 'prophecies' from the Delphic Oracle that influenced the response of leaders. So I'm guessing Herodotus isn't 'classical?' What about Roman historians who saw Rome as a child of Mars, and give accounts of how the gods favoured this leader or that? What about the histories about Alexander the Great - the demigod whose conquests were divinely approved or prefigured? Are these not 'classical'?

We have already somewhere else discussed how Ammianus naturally believed that the oracles were part of the religious pagan world. So the political histories also involved aspects of the pagan religious worldview. All that was "turned on its head" with the advent of the centralised monotheistic Christian State Church during the rule of Constantine.



Quote:
Or should we just clarify? - by 'classical' you basically mean 'doesn't focus on Christianity as an historically important part of history'? By that definition, then of course there was a decline, since you are clearly aware of history and know what impact Christianity had. But was it a fall - in that the quality of historical writing became any less? (and bear in mind that you still haven't clarified any 'classical style' - ie you've only given your perception of the subject matter, not the style of research/presentation).

But I have attempted to clarify precisely how Ecclesiastic Histories may be characterised as DISTINCT from the earlier political history writing.

My claim here has been that this form of history writing became extremely important, at least for some centuries, and during this epoch there was a corresponding fall and decline of the production (and preservation) of profane political [narrative] histories.



I will return to summarise this distinction because I believe it is important in the evaluation of the question posed in the OP.
Kookaburra Jack is offline  
Old December 4th, 2016, 07:01 PM   #25

Kookaburra Jack's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: May 2011
From: Rural Australia
Posts: 2,303

Quote:
Originally Posted by El Cid View Post
I have not consulted Momigliano’s works.
Momigliano's works have demanded great respect from most ancient historians. Here are some articles and/or notes on some of his books:


Google Search for "Arnaldo Momigliano" or to the WIKI entry
Arnaldo Momigliano and the human sources of history - newcriterion article by Donald Kagan
Review of T.D.Barnes' Tertullian by Arnaldo Momigliano - Journal of Roman Studies 66 (1976), pp.273-276
The Classical Foundations of Modern Historiography - A Brief Review and notes
Pagan and Christian Historiography in the Fourth Century - A Brief Review and notes
Christianity and the Decline of the Roman Empire - A Brief Review and notes
On Pagans, Jews and Christians - A Brief Review and notes
AM on AM - Commentary by Arnaldo Momigliano on Ammianus Marcellinus



Here's a small quote:

The revolution of the fourth century, carrying with it a new historiography, will not be understood if we underrate the determination, almost the fierceness, with which the Christians appreciated and exploited the miracle that had transformed Constantine into a supporter, a protector and later a legislator of the Christian Church.

This new historiography was "Ecclesiastical History", and its popularity for some centuries seems to have crowded out the narratives of political history writing.

Last edited by Kookaburra Jack; December 4th, 2016 at 07:08 PM.
Kookaburra Jack is offline  
Old December 4th, 2016, 07:31 PM   #26

Kookaburra Jack's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: May 2011
From: Rural Australia
Posts: 2,303

SUMMARY of the Characteristics of 4th/5th century "Ecclesiastical Histories"


"In no other history does precedent mean so much as ecclesiastical history.
The very continuity of the institution of the church throughout the centuries
makes it inevitable that anything which happened in the church's past should be relevant to its present. Furthermore - and this is most essential - in the Church conformity with the origins is evidence of truth. This doctrine may be interpretted differently in the various denominations; but it is never absent in any of them. A Church that consciously breaks with its original principles and its original institutions is inconceivable. The Church knows a return to the principles, not a break with the principles."


p.136

"The corpus mysticum of the Ecclesia universalis".


p.137

"What is unmistakably apparent in ecclesiatical historians
is the care for their documentation."

"The very importance of precedent and tradition in ecclesiastical history
compelled the ecclesiastical historians to quote documentary evidence to
an extent which is seldom to be found in political historians."


p.138

"We have defined some of the essential elements of ecclesiastical historiography:

1) the continuous interrelation of dogma and facts;

2) the transcendental significance attributed to the period of origins;

3) the emphasis on factual evidence;

4) the ever present problem of relating events of local churches to the mystical body of the universal church."



To the above, from post #6 we must add this:

A historian can be guilty of forging evidence
or of knowingly used forged evidence in order to
support his own historical discourse. One is never
simple-minded enough about the condemnation of
forgeries. Pious frauds are frauds, for which one
must show no piety - and no pity.


This tells us to be on our guard for the exercises of pious forgery by the
authors of ecclesiastical histories in the 4th and 5th century.

This summarises the issues and characteristics of church histories.

Note that I am not claiming that classical historical narratives did not at times borrow from the above elements, characteristics or from the use of forged documents.
Kookaburra Jack is offline  
Old December 5th, 2016, 02:42 AM   #27
Suspended until March 19th, 2018
 
Joined: Mar 2013
From: Escandinavia y Mesopotamia
Posts: 1,180

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kookaburra Jack View Post
Momigliano's works have demanded great respect from most ancient historians. Here are some articles and/or notes on some of his books:...
And...? - What has it to do with my inquiry?. You have left out a following text and completely ignored the point of mine:

"if he is an Edward Gibberish’s Italian disciple and is perpetuating the same Gibberish outdated craps I have easily debunked, then he is incorrect just as I have demonstrated it in my post number 2."


Quote:
Here's a small quote:

The revolution of the fourth century, carrying with it a new historiography, will not be understood if we underrate the determination, almost the fierceness, with which the Christians appreciated and exploited the miracle that had transformed Constantine into a supporter, a protector and later a legislator of the Christian Church.

Here's a small refresh:

“Impartiality” was just as much normal for the Pagans as it was for the Christians. That the Christians tried to interpret aspects in correspond with their value is nothing news indeed and one is truly an idiot if one thinks that the Pagans did not do it. Herodotus’ and Aristotle’s portrait of the Persians are for instance dubious and contradicted by the archaeology today, and when Sappho tried to interpret the Iliad she downplayed the role of the men and instead praised and emphasized the feminine virtues of female characters such of Helena.


Quote:
This new historiography was "Ecclesiastical History", and its popularity for some centuries seems to have crowded out the narratives of political history writing.
Nonsense, political history still continued in Late Antiquity and Middle Ages - Your problem is probably that your assumptions are based on atheistic idiosyncrasy mixed with outdated Gibbonic teachings that do not correspond very well with what the scholars state these days in the 21th century.

Last edited by El Cid; December 5th, 2016 at 02:53 AM.
El Cid is offline  
Old December 5th, 2016, 02:00 PM   #28

Moros's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Jun 2012
Posts: 2,961

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kookaburra Jack View Post
We have already somewhere else discussed how Ammianus naturally believed that the oracles were part of the religious pagan world. So the political histories also involved aspects of the pagan religious worldview. All that was "turned on its head" with the advent of the centralised monotheistic Christian State Church during the rule of Constantine.
So for the 'classical' historian, religion (divine revelation and guidance) was equivalent to the political history (who fought against who and won)?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kookaburra Jack View Post
But I have attempted to clarify precisely how Ecclesiastic Histories may be characterised as DISTINCT from the earlier political history writing.

My claim here has been that this form of history writing became extremely important, at least for some centuries, and during this epoch there was a corresponding fall and decline of the production (and preservation) of profane political [narrative] histories.



I will return to summarise this distinction because I believe it is important in the evaluation of the question posed in the OP.
Telling us what the 'ecclesiastical' style might be is not the same as telling us what the 'classical' style was - which was what my question was trying to elicit from you. We cannot judge whether the 'classical style' of historiography went into decline until you first define what the identifiable features of a 'classical style' is.
Moros is offline  
Old December 5th, 2016, 06:50 PM   #29

Kookaburra Jack's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: May 2011
From: Rural Australia
Posts: 2,303

Quote:
Originally Posted by Moros View Post
So for the 'classical' historian, religion (divine revelation and guidance) was equivalent to the political history (who fought against who and won)?

Political and military history seem to have been important for the narratives of classical historians. Religion obviously had its traditional and collegiate place in society in war and peace. I wouldn't think they were equivalent but they fit together in various ways. History is primary written by the victors unless, as in the case of history of the colonisation of the US, Australia and other places, the colonial history undergoes a form of revisionism to include the military and cultural resistance by the indigenous people against the invading colonists.

FWIW I so see "Ecclesiastical Histories" as analogous to the earlier colonial histories of recent empires. They are one sided.


Quote:
Telling us what the 'ecclesiastical' style might be is not the same as telling us what the 'classical' style was - which was what my question was trying to elicit from you. We cannot judge whether the 'classical style' of historiography went into decline until you first define what the identifiable features of a 'classical style' is.
For the purposes of the OP I have defined it as that which is attributed to those historians who wrote histories between the 5th century BCE until the 4th century and the history of Ammianus. Around about the same time as the Historia Augusta was assembled.

Can you suggest a convenient summary of the style(s) employed by these historians?

Ecclesiastical historians seem to have temporarily displaced this lineage of historians in the 4th century.
Kookaburra Jack is offline  
Old December 6th, 2016, 08:53 PM   #30

Kookaburra Jack's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: May 2011
From: Rural Australia
Posts: 2,303

(1)

Momigliano wrote that:
... the pagan historians of the fourth century were not really going to die. They were only going to sleep for some centuries. They belonged to that classical tradition in historiography for which ecclesiastical history, whatever its merits, was no substitute.
My opinion reflects this. Ecclesiastical history was, and still is, no substitute for the classical tradition in historiography. This is obviously independent of whatever definitions of "style" each of us may wish to attribute to the classical tradition. Does anyone disagree with any of this?



(2)

Further, also following the above author "I am rather impervious to any claim that sacred history poses problems which are not those of profane history." It follows that, in the sense of scope, that church history is like some specialised form of a subset of the general field (or superset) of profane history. I believe that this is part of the reason that the author refers to the "Eccesiastical Historians" as the "insiders" and the classical historians as the "outsiders".
Principles of Historical research need not be different
from criteria of common sense. And common sense teaches
us that outsiders must not tell insiders what they should
do. I shall therefore not discuss directly what biblical
scholars are doing. They are the insiders.

[References at post #6]
Is there anyone in this forum who has any difficulty accepting these remarks?


(3)

A question:

In what sense are Ammianus and Procopius commonly held to be the last major historians of the ancient Western world?


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Procopius

Procopius belongs to the school of late antique secular historians who continued the traditions of the Second Sophistic; they wrote in Attic Greek, their models were Herodotus, Polybius and especially Thucydides, and their subject matter was secular history. They avoided vocabulary unknown to Attic Greek and inserted an explanation when they had to use contemporary words. Thus Procopius explains to his readers that ekklesia, meaning a Christian church, is the equivalent of a temple or shrine and that monks are "the most temperate of Christians ... whom men are accustomed to call monks" (Wars 2.9.14; 1.7.22). In classical Athens, monks had been unknown and an ekklesia was the assembly of Athenian citizens that passed the laws.

The secular historians eschewed the history of the Christian church, which they left to ecclesiastical history—a genre that was founded by Eusebius of Caesarea. However, Averil Cameron has argued convincingly that Procopius' works reflect the tensions between the classical and Christian models of history in 6th century Byzantium. This is supported by Mary Whitby's analysis of Procopius' depiction of Constantinople and the Church of Hagia Sophia in comparison to contemporary pagan panegyrics (Buildings, Book I). Procopius can be seen as depicting Justinian as essentially God's Vicegerent, making the case for buildings being a primarily religious panegyric.[23]

Procopius indicated (Secret History 26.18) that he planned to write an ecclesiastical history himself and, if he had, he would probably have followed the rules of that genre. But, as far as it is known, the ecclesiastical history remained unwritten.


Last edited by Kookaburra Jack; December 6th, 2016 at 09:17 PM.
Kookaburra Jack is offline  
Reply

  Historum > World History Forum > Ancient History

Tags
4th, century, classical, decline and fall, historian



Search tags for this page
Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Was there a "Decline & Fall" of the Classical Physician in the 4th century? Kookaburra Jack Ancient History 95 September 24th, 2017 07:50 PM
How Seriously Outdated is Gibbon's "Decline and Fall..."? Kartir History Book Reviews 9 April 11th, 2014 06:44 PM
"Decline and Fall" vs "Transition" in your opinion? radomu Ancient History 13 May 28th, 2013 03:46 AM
Gibbon's "Decline and Fall.." spongeknuckles History Book Reviews 4 May 14th, 2012 01:10 PM
Need help with a citation in Edward Gibbon's "Decline and fall" HarveyVdarski History Book Reviews 0 March 27th, 2010 01:13 PM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.