Biases and the Role of the Individual in History Essay example

Biases and the Role of the Individual in History Essay example

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All historians have biases and these biases shape the way the write history. Some authors write to promote an ideal while others write to educate the public and authors also differ in what aspects of history they write about. When reading any history text it is important to remember why the author wrote and what was important to them. An author like Jo-Ann Shelton writes history to educate people on the social history of Rome by using letters and inscriptions left from individual people, the authors of the fourth edition of A History of Rome write to educate college students on the political and economic history of Rome while occasionally discussing the culture in a traditional text-book format, and Suetonius wrote history to tell stories about the emperors and therefore discarded information unless it directly pertained to the single man he was focusing on. Jo-Ann Shelton places more emphasis on many different individuals as a way to accurately portray Roman history, the authors of A History of Rome place significantly less emphasis on many individuals but they still discuss different groups of people throughout the Roman Empire and various inscriptions, and Suetonius only discusses the emperors, and those who had an impact on their reign, in depth.
Jo-Ann Shelton states in the preface of her book, “It is the purpose of this book to allow the ancient Romans to step forward and talk to us about themselves,” (1998, p. xxiii). She clearly believes that each individual in history has an impact on its course. While she acknowledges the bias of preservation has destroyed many letters, documents, and inscriptions she uses what is available to show readers what life was like for different individuals. Some of these sources come...


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...o impacted history alone and groups of people who impacted history by working together. Finally, Suetonius seems to have viewed only great men as important and impactful individuals in history, focusing solely on the emperors and their immediate family and anyone who threatened them. Individually, each author or set of authors provides an incomplete picture of Roman culture because of their biases, but used together it is possible to begin to understand how individuals did impact history in either large or small ways.



Works Cited

Le Glay, M., Voisin, J.-L. & Le Bohec, H. (2009). The history of Rome (4th ed.) (A. Nevel,
Trans.). Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell.
Shelton, J.-A. (1998). As the romans did: A sourcebook in roman social history (2nd ed.). New
York: Oxford University Press.
Suetonius. (1957). The twelve Caesars (R. Graves, Trans.). New York: Penguin.

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