Greek Historical Writing, and Apollo: Two Lectures Delivered before the University of Oxford June 3 and 4, 1908

Greek Historical Writing, and Apollo: Two Lectures Delivered before the University of Oxford June 3 and 4, 1908

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Greek Historical Writing, and Apollo: Two Lectures Delivered before the University of Oxford June 3 and 4, 1908

Greek Historical Writing, and Apollo: Two Lectures Delivered before the University of Oxford June 3 and 4, 1908

Read FREE!

Excerpt

WHEN I was trying to accustom myself to the thought of appearing for a few days in this unfamiliar world, I took it as a good omen that Magdalen College offered me hospitality; for a very famous Magdalen man has been an intimate friend of mine since my first years as a student. It is now forty years since I first acquired for my library, as my first book of learning in the English language, Edward Gibbon's immortal history. And now that I am here to expound to you my thoughts about the growth and the nature of historical writing in Greece, I gladly make Gibbon my starting-point.

Of course his work is admirable. Of course no Greek produced anything like it. And yet, if we apply to it the canon of historical research which the nineteenth century brought into vogue, it can only be called a work of research in the same qualified sense as the works of the ancients. Gibbon was no researcher in the strict sense. He made no inquiry into sources; he arrived at no new fact or datum. Despite all the labour he spent in reading his original authorities, despite all the freedom of his judgement, he walked in a prescribed path and he accepted a tradition. Without the laborious compilations which were achieved in the age of 'polyhistory', without, for instance, the unsurpassable industry and learning of Tillemont, Gibbon's work would be unthinkable. What he does is, in essential, to give the traditional material shape by his literary art, and illuminate it with the enlightened intelligence of a man of . . .

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