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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

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Old December 11th, 2016, 03:17 PM   #41

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Most of the later Roman Empire’s ideological energy was expended fighting supposedly heretical beliefs – often other forms of Christianity. In a decree of 380, Emperor Theodosius I even drew a distinction between Catholics, and everyone else – whom he classed as dementes vesanosque (“demented lunatics”). Such rulings left no room for disbelief.

Quote:
Originally Posted by El Cid View Post
That doesn’t deal anything about a supposedly decline in term of history writing. It just says that monotheistic religions tend to be less tolerant than polytheistic one, indeed nothing new.
It says the age of ancient atheism ended. That's a pretty simple statement and equates to loss of free speech under a military state. One might even be tempted to say there was a very real decline and fall of ancient atheism in the 4th century, but I forget you don't like the term because of its Gibbonic overtones.

A new breed of historians were imbued with the supreme ideological energy that flowed from the Emperor and the Nicene Council. These were the church historians and the continuators of Eusebius. They knew themselves also to be heresiologists, collecting, categorising and refuting all the known variants of disbelief. An exercise in ideological "divide and conquer". They, and the church organisation which transmitted their manuscripts from late antiquity, were not averse to resorting to pious forgery.

The old breed of historians went to sleep for a few centuries.

They had to be very careful about what they said and what they did not say:
Therefore, whoever ponders what I have told,
should also carefully weight the rest
which are passed over in silence;
and like a reasonable person he will pardon me for
not including everything which deliberate wickedness committed
by exaggerating the importance of the charges.

--- Ammianus, Res Gestae 24.3.1.
The censorship of free speech under the Christian State of the 4th century seems to have contributed towards the decline in straightforward political reporting and the ascendency of church histories and heresiologies. At least for a few centuries.

Last edited by Kookaburra Jack; December 11th, 2016 at 03:40 PM.
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Old December 12th, 2016, 06:05 AM   #42

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Originally Posted by Kookaburra Jack View Post
It says...
As already stated you are ill-informed and ignore the facts that Pagan regimes also persecuted and oppressed views they saw as dangerous:

That doesn’t deal anything about a supposedly decline in term of history writing. It just says that monotheistic religions tend to be less tolerant than polytheistic one, indeed nothing new. Also the text does not say that an atheist can express his view freely without consequences as Socrates pretty much was sentenced to death and not to mention Anaxagoras. Also one could also face problems and death if one questioned the religions of Pagan Romans as they would feel that the gods would punish them, which was precisely the reason why Pagan Diocletian(plus a couple of other Pagan Roman rulers) persecuted the Christians and Manicheans in which you omit to mention as it doesn’t fit with your Gibbonic doctrine.

And beside that the article does not support your rubbish indeed.



Quote:
The old breed of historians went to sleep for a few centuries.
And this is nonsense just as I have explained in my post number 2:

The practice of making history did not go into decline and just because a stupid Briton in the 18th century suggested it once, doesn’t mean that the vast historians agree with it.

As I have written for some days ago:

“Philosophy continued throughout Late Antique and Middle Ages. The vast majority of the classical philosophy are available to us thanks to the effort of Christian monasteries and Byzantine library where they studied and copied classical texts. By doing it, they preserved the vast cultural legacy for the posterity. Philosophy blossomed as well and as already mentioned Augustine, Isadore of Sevilla, Alcuin and Aquinas all discussed Plato/Aristotle.

Classical history continued throughout Late Antique and Middle Ages. The works of Hesiod, Herodotus, Thucydedes, Diodoros, Plutarch, Ovid and Sallust are available to us today because they were studied and recopied throughout Middle Ages by Christian monasteries and Byzantine libraries until Guttenberg’s invention in late Middle Ages saved them for the eternity. And when history works were made in Middle Ages they tried to imitated and use the narrative techniques of Tacitus or Thycydedes.”



“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.

The notion of a “decline and fall” is a Gibbon buzzword, and his fabrication of a supposedly destruction of classical works are outdated Gibbonic teaching from the 18th century not worth to repeat apart to exhibit ones own ignorance. Like for instance the burning library of Alexandria is indeed a myth caused in the Edward Gibbon’s gibberish mind where he misinterpreted the sources so dismal:

Armarium Magnum: "Agora" and Hypatia - Hollywood Strikes Again

The Mysterious Fate of the Great Library of Alexandria

Though some may have their limited knowledge of history from references from the obsolete works of some Edward Gibberish works - and this is really a small gain as his works are outdated and rejected today for obvious reasons - we are still the disciples of critical minds and children of von Ranke: we learn our history from modern scholars in the 21th century instead of relying on outdated works from 1700's and perpetuate myths.




Quote:
They had to be very careful about what they said and what they did not say:
That is your Gibberish nonsense from 1700’s without academic foundation. We have debated it before and to refresh your memory:

Anaxagoras was sentenced to death because he made some statements about the sun and the moon that offended the Pagans. Socrates was sentenced to death because by questioning the Athenians and their morale the Athenians felt that Socrates was questioning their values and thus felt the gods may punish them, in which resulted into a justice murdering of Socrates. From Demosthenes speeches we have examples of forged allegations against Neaera of being illegal and non-Athenian and thus offended the gods when she was giving in ritual marriage to the god Dionysus, but the real target was to hit her husband, Stephanus. Pagan Roman Emperor Augustus burned some hundreds prophetic books he did not like, and ordered Ovid’s Aeneid works to be used as propaganda where he dismantled the Roman Republic in secret while claiming he was restoring it. And we have the famous case of Verres where Cicero realized how corrupt the courts were when Paganism ruled. And not to mention the murdering of the Gracchus brothers. Or the Pagan persecution of the Christians as Pagan rulers saw it as a problem that they rejected their pagan goods and thus persecuted them because they thought it would mitigate the anger of goods.

So your Edward Gibberish assumption mixed with atheistic idiosyncrasy that the Pagans were sane rationale humans being that did not lie, forge tales or persecute, is utterly Gibberish crap without academic foundation. And as an atheist and as one who had Ancient Greece/Rome and Middle Ages at the university as student of history, I can easily refute your assumptions.
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Old December 12th, 2016, 01:16 PM   #43

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Originally Posted by Kookaburra Jack View Post
No I am not. The claim was essentially that the ("scanty and suspicious materials" of) ecclesiastical histories are inferior to the classical histories [for various reasons some of which have been mentioned above].
Actually, what you've mentioned is that ecclesiastical historians relied on documentary proof and sought primary documents and texts on which to ground their history, something every modern scholar would commend.

As you yourself quote;

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

and

"We have defined some of the essential elements of ecclesiastical historiography:...[which includes] the emphasis on factual evidence"
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Old December 12th, 2016, 01:45 PM   #44

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Originally Posted by Kookaburra Jack View Post
Can you provide a reference to such a list?
Well, you are the one purporting that there is a fundamental difference between classical and ecclesiastical historiography, so I would have hoped that you were the one able to "provide a reference to such a list".

I myself cannot provide one, beyond a chronological distinction. 'Classical' refers to a time frame, and Christianity only existed after a certain period. Ecclesiastical historians emphasised the spread of the Christian church, but that's why they were labelled 'ecclesiastical historians' by much later scholars. Classical historians wrote about the Greek and Roman Empires, and that's why they were called 'classical historians' by those same later scholars.
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Old December 12th, 2016, 05:15 PM   #45

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kookaburra Jack View Post
There appears to be a fall off of the classical historians in late antiquity and a glut of church historians. When we look at later historians, already mentioned in this thread from the middle ages, such as Bede etc, are we able to ask whether they are continuators of the classical historian or are they continuators of the ecclesiastical tradition.
We need to remember that, with the exception of a few random survivals, it takes a community to preserve a text. What we have is not necessarily what was written. Second, the numbers of classicizing historians in late antiquity really seem too small to generalize. In anything it almost seems to go in waves. We have a small group under the late Julio-Claudians and early Antonines (Josephus, Appian, Arrian, Tacitus) but then there's a gap for a century before we get Herodian, Dexippus, and Cassius Dio. Then we have to wait another century before we get Ammianus and Aurelius Victor.
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Old December 13th, 2016, 09:42 AM   #46

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kookaburra Jack View Post
It says the age of ancient atheism ended. That's a pretty simple statement and equates to loss of free speech under a military state. One might even be tempted to say there was a very real decline and fall of ancient atheism in the 4th century, but I forget you don't like the term because of its Gibbonic overtones.

A new breed of historians were imbued with the supreme ideological energy that flowed from the Emperor and the Nicene Council. These were the church historians and the continuators of Eusebius. They knew themselves also to be heresiologists, collecting, categorising and refuting all the known variants of disbelief. An exercise in ideological "divide and conquer". They, and the church organisation which transmitted their manuscripts from late antiquity, were not averse to resorting to pious forgery.

The old breed of historians went to sleep for a few centuries.

They had to be very careful about what they said and what they did not say:
Therefore, whoever ponders what I have told,
should also carefully weight the rest
which are passed over in silence;
and like a reasonable person he will pardon me for
not including everything which deliberate wickedness committed
by exaggerating the importance of the charges.

--- Ammianus, Res Gestae 24.3.1.
The censorship of free speech under the Christian State of the 4th century seems to have contributed towards the decline in straightforward political reporting and the ascendency of church histories and heresiologies. At least for a few centuries.
So I take it you now have answered, at least to your satisfaction, the question you posited in the OP?
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Old December 13th, 2016, 09:13 PM   #47

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Originally Posted by Moros View Post
Actually, what you've mentioned is that ecclesiastical historians relied on documentary proof and sought primary documents and texts on which to ground their history, something every modern scholar would commend.
I have also mentioned that the integrity of ecclesiastical histories are sometimes compromised by the use of forged documents. The same unprofessional conduct in history writing may be seen in the "Historia Augusta". Modern scholars cannot commend forgery. The "Historia Augusta" itself represents an obvious decline in the professional standards of history writing. The same applies IMO to elements of various ecclesiatical histories.

Quote:
As you yourself quote;

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

and

"We have defined some of the essential elements of ecclesiastical historiography:...[which includes] the emphasis on factual evidence"
There were four elements listed:

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."


Item 2) above relies on Eusebius and Eusebius alone because no other ecclesiastical historian went back over the ground to the 1st century. There is some good news and some bad news about this state of affairs (IMO). The good news is that Eusebius was very good at quoting ancient documents and did a great service for modern history writing. The bad news is that Eusebius has been suspected of pious forgery since the age of Enlightenment.



This leads us directly to item 4) and the "universal church". Ecclesiastical histories are characterised by some sort of an appeal to the transendental significance of a universal church.



The following is from Momigliano:
p.151 (The Classical Foundations of Modern Historiography)
"As long as the notion of a Universal Church was not in dispute, Eusebius remained
the source of inspiration for ecclesiatical historians. The enormous, almost
pathological, output of ecclesiastical history in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries becomes more and more involved in the discussions of details, and more
and more diversified in theological outlook, but it never repudiates the basic
notion that a Universal Church exists beyond the individual Christian comminities."

"It is of course impossible to indicate the exact moment in which the history
of the Church began to be studied as the history of a human community instead
of a divine institution."

"If I had to produce my own candidate, I would go back to the first half of the
eighteenth century and name Pietro Giannone, who meditated deeply on the relation
between ecclesiastical and political history and about 1742 wrote in prison
a sketch of the history of ecclesiastical history which would be published only
in 1859 (Istoria del Pontificato di Gregorio Magno in Opere di Pietro
Giannone, ed. Bertelli-Ricuperati, Naples, 1971).
This may be no surprise to many. However it suggests that only in modern times has the church (which has "preserved" all these "manuscripts") been evaluated as a human community. Indeed as an organisation. Today we might - in the political sense - see the Nicene Church as a Corporation. This has not always been possible due to ...


Anyway AM continues through the 20th century:
"The truth is of course that historians of the church are still divided on the
fundamental issue of the divine origin of the church. The number of professional
historians who take the Church as a divine intitution -- and can therefore be
considered to be the followers of Eusebius -- increased rather than decreased
in the years after the FIrst World War. On the other hand the historians who
study the history of the Church as that of a human institution have consolidated
their methods. They have been helped by the general adoption in historiography
of those standards of erudite research which at seems at one time to have been
confined to ecclesiastical historians and controversialists. We sometimes forget
that Eduard Meyer was, at least in Germany, the first non-theologian to write a
scholarly history of the origins of Christianity, and this happened only in 1921.

p.152
"Those who accept the notion of the Church as a divine institution
which is different from the other institutions
have to face the difficulty that the Church history reveals only too obviously
a continuous mixture of political and religious aspects:
hence the distinction frequently made by Church historians of the last two centuries
between internal and external history of the Church,
where internal means (more or less) religious
and external means (more or less) political.

p.152
"At the beginning of this imposing movement of research and controversy
there remains Eusebius of Caesarea. In 1834 Ferdinand Christian Baur
wrote in "Tubingen" a comparison between Eusebius and Herodotus:
Comparatur Eusebius Caesarensis historiae ecclesiasticae parens cum
parente historiarum Herodoto Halicarnassensi.

We can accept this comparison and meditate on his remark
that both Herodotus and Eusebius wrote under the inspiration
of a newly established freedom.

Last edited by Kookaburra Jack; December 13th, 2016 at 09:17 PM.
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Old December 13th, 2016, 09:38 PM   #48

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Originally Posted by Moros View Post
Well, you are the one purporting that there is a fundamental difference between classical and ecclesiastical historiography, so I would have hoped that you were the one able to "provide a reference to such a list".

I myself cannot provide one, beyond a chronological distinction. 'Classical' refers to a time frame, and Christianity only existed after a certain period. Ecclesiastical historians emphasised the spread of the Christian church, but that's why they were labelled 'ecclesiastical historians' by much later scholars. Classical historians wrote about the Greek and Roman Empires, and that's why they were called 'classical historians' by those same later scholars.

The way I look at it is that the ecclesiastical histories have these four characteristic elements outlined above. The focus on the church and on these elements represent some sort of specialisation and inventive step on the "classical histories".

Eusebius was probably very well acquainted with all earlier histories, but his subject was political history only as it impinged upon the "universal church".

The rise of the Christian State in the 4th century was rewarded with a trinity of ecclesiastical historians in the 5th century. What extant political histories they passed over to produce a history of the 4th century is anyone's guess.

This IMO represents a decline in "political reporting".
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Old December 14th, 2016, 12:43 AM   #49

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Originally Posted by Kirialax View Post
We need to remember that, with the exception of a few random survivals, it takes a community to preserve a text. What we have is not necessarily what was written. Second, the numbers of classicizing historians in late antiquity really seem too small to generalize. In anything it almost seems to go in waves. We have a small group under the late Julio-Claudians and early Antonines (Josephus, Appian, Arrian, Tacitus) but then there's a gap for a century before we get Herodian, Dexippus, and Cassius Dio. Then we have to wait another century before we get Ammianus and Aurelius Victor.

The term "classicizing historians" is interesting. It reinforces the notion of a lineage of Greek (and later, Roman) histories through antiquity to the 4th century, that were available for later generations to continue.

I think a case may be made that the "classicizing historians" were crowded out by the ecclesiastical historians during the 4th century and beyond.


OTOH there was a very real need for the new Christian State to record its triumph at the Nicene Council and the miracle of Constantine's conversion and support of the church. There is problem however in my estimation, and that is this history (325 onwards) was not officially recorded until the 5th century - 100 years after the events - by which time Theodosius had almost completely solved the political problem of how to deal with Christian heretics.
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Old December 14th, 2016, 01:08 AM   #50

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Originally Posted by David Vagamundo View Post
So I take it you now have answered, at least to your satisfaction, the question you posited in the OP?
The question is whether you believe there was a decline and fall of classical history writing in the 4th century, and if so, what caused it.


I think its pretty clear there was a new Classical Christian Age, and history writing with few exceptions thereafter, looked to Eusebius for their inspiration and their templates.
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