How Useful is Archaic Greek Poetry as a Historical Source Essay

How Useful is Archaic Greek Poetry as a Historical Source Essay

Length: 1111 words (3.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

“The higher Greek poetry did not make up fictitious plots; its business was to express the heroic saga, the myths”
- Gilbert Murray, 1909

Gilbert Murray, the preeminent Australian classicist, expresses a statement in his preface to Aristotle on the Art of Poetry that raises the highly contentious issue of how useful is archaic poetry as a historical source? If we accept the definition of a ‘source’ as anything that can provide us with information which can add to the sum of our knowledge of the past, and the definition of a ‘historical source’ as any such piece of information used by a historian to make a point. Then, is certain that we can accept Archaic Greek poetry as a historical source. This poetry has been used for centuries to make points on Greek culture and events, regardless of it’s veracity. It is undoubtedly useful as a source when we consider just how much use repeated generations of classicists and historians have managed to gleam from the existing material. There must be a distinction, however, between justification and usefulness. Archaic poetry comprises a vast array of different kinds of discourse: epic narrative of the kind found in the Iliad and the Odyssey; Hymns to the gods and narratives about them; didactic poetry; poetry that offers encouragement, lament, praise to blame; political poetry; love lyric; and drinking songs. Despite The term archaic deriving from the Greek word archaikos, which means primitive, Modern historians think of the term archaic as a misnomer, as the archaic period is considered to be one of the most fruitful periods of Greek history. The many different kinds of statement contained in the diverse genres of archaic poetry make different claims on truth and permit diffe...

... middle of paper ...

... Perseus Digital Library, Tufts University

Pratt, L.H.,
(1993) Lying and Poetry from Homer to Pindar: falsehood and deception in archaic Greek poetics Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press

Snodgrass, A.,
(1980) Archaic Greece: The Age of Experiment. London Melbourne Toronto: J M Dent & Sons Ltd

(2014) History of the Peloponnesian War, Book 6. 3. 2, on Crane, G.R., The Perseus Digital Library, Tufts University

[Accessed 2/3/2014]

Turner, V.,
(1981) “Social Dramas and Stories about Them” in On Narrative, ed. Mitchell, W.T.J., Chicago/London

White, H.,
(1978) Tropics of Discourse: Essays on Cultural Criticism, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, London
(1973) Metahistory, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Architecture in Hong Kong Essay

- Introduction Hong Kong use to be a fishing village in the late 19th century it later evolved into a military port of strategic importance and eventually an international financial center, which is one of the most densely populated areas in the world after the engagement of Imperial China and the British Colony in the territory. Nowadays Hong Kong has over thousand skyscrapers, the architecture of Hong Kong features great emphasis on contemporary architecture, accent Modernism and Functionalism....   [tags: historical context, literature]

Strong Essays
1236 words (3.5 pages)

Essay about The Epic Of Sundiata As A Historical Source

- The Epic of Sundiata, which relates not only information about the Empire of Mali in the 13th and 14th centuries but also details of the ancient Mande Culture, is a valuable document that describes a period of time about which very little is known. Despite this reality, historians continue to debate the epic 's suitability as a historical source. It is clear that such a discussion revolves around the underlying question of the reliability of oral tradition; arguably, to deny the epic solely on the grounds that it relies on oral tradition constitutes a veritable disregard for a form of history that, when employed correctly, may effectively reveal important cultural values and ethics....   [tags: Historiography, History, Folklore, Historian]

Strong Essays
1127 words (3.2 pages)

Hadith Reports as a Historical Source Essay

- There are many controversies surrounding the first century of Islamic history. Historians often have trouble agreeing on whether or not it is reliable to use hadith literature as a source for the origins of Islam considering a large amount of hadiths surfaced well after the time of Muhammad. Many historians find issue with the isnad and matn of hadith. Historians argue that these can be easily forged given the nature of how hadith is transmitted by word of mouth. Another problem with using hadith as a historical source for the origins of Islam is that many hadith collections contain anachronisms, which, again raises questions about the reliability of such collections....   [tags: Origins of Islam, Controvery, History, Islam]

Strong Essays
1012 words (2.9 pages)

Greek Gods - The Historical Background Essay

- Greek Gods - The Historical Background Greek gods were an essential part of Greek mythology. Our proper knowledge of the ancient Greek gods can be traced back to Homer who wrote The Iliad and The Odysse. It is also believed that the myths were heavily influenced by the Mycenaean culture that existed in Greece from 1700 to 1100 BC. However there is some evidence that the beginnings of Greek mythology and beliefs can be traced back to the ancient Middle Eastern cultures. There are many similarities between the mythology of these ancient Middle Eastern cultures and the ancient Greeks....   [tags: Classics]

Strong Essays
561 words (1.6 pages)


- The construct of the ‘Roman copy’ in art history has deeply rooted and extensive origins. Whilst this prejudiced was attached to Roman sculpture from an extremely early time in modern archaeology and art history, the construct viewed in a current context reveals issues with both its development and contribution to historical understanding and education. The construct is formed upon several main factors that have recently been called into question by revisionist historians. Firstly, the development of the construct by conservative historians during the 18th century, a context that valued artistic originality and authenticity, lead to it’s popularisation and circulation as a respected model....   [tags: Roman Sculpture, Historical Construct]

Strong Essays
2156 words (6.2 pages)

Essay on Primary Source Evaluation

- Title of Primary Source: ACCOUNT OF THE SLAVE TRADE ON THE COAST OF AFRICA by ALEXANDER FALCONBRIDGE The book was published in 1788 -- substantially after the events described took place. The time gap did not seriously affect the main content of the material because the events he describes were very serious and unforgettable ones. He wrote the material at the time he had already been a member of the Anti- Slavery Society leaving room for a little suspicion of his tendency to exaggerate some descriptions in his narrative....   [tags: Source Evaluation]

Strong Essays
1014 words (2.9 pages)

Greek Ikology Essay : The History Of Greek Mythology

- Edwin Gasperi Professor M. Dermody History 101 16 November 2017 Ancient Mythology If there is one subject that is still being widely taught today with significant cultural and historical importance, it has to be the study of ancient Greek mythology. It isn’t just a subject in history, but even then some people might be wondering why the world is still talking about ancient Greek mythology when they are just stories and tales that were written thousands of years ago. However, the vast amount of ancient Greek-themed movies and literature today is astonishing and shows that at least some of the world is still fascinated with the Greeks and their mythology, but still we can see that m...   [tags: Greek mythology, Homer, Classics, Zeus]

Strong Essays
1641 words (4.7 pages)

Essay on Mythology In Greek Mythology

- Greek mythology has affected numerous parts of today’s world. Some successful companies use names from Greek myths, such as Nike, Ajax, and Dionysus. Phrases people say today, like “Achilles’ heel”, which means a weakness someone has, which came from Achilles being killed by an arrow in the heel. One of the Greek myths included three characters: Pegasus, Bellerophon, and the Chimaera. The first character in one of the Greek myths is Pegasus. According to “Pegasus,” by New World Encyclopedia, “Pegasus, in Greek mythology, winged horse, son of Poseidon, god of the sea, and the Gorgon Medusa” (New World Encyclopedia)....   [tags: Greek mythology, Bellerophon, Perseus, Medusa]

Strong Essays
1612 words (4.6 pages)

The Historical Geography of Mesopotamia Essay

- The Historical Geography of Mesopotamia Mesopotamia is a historical region in southwest Asia where the world's earliest civilization developed. The name comes from a Greek word meaning "between rivers," referring to the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, north or northwest of the bottleneck at Baghdad. It is known as Al-Jazirah, or "The Island," to the Arabs (3). South of this lies Babylonia. However, in the broader sense, the name Mesopotamia has come to be used for the area bounded on the northeast by the Zagros Mountains, and on the southwest by the edge of the Arabian Plateau, and stretching from the Persian Gulf in the southeast to the Anti-Taurus Mountains in the northwes...   [tags: History Iraq Papers Historical Essays]

Strong Essays
2202 words (6.3 pages)

The Source Essay

- The Source There was once a man named Xavier who was caught stealing, and was asked how did you injure your arm, as he walked towards the Guillotine. He later replied, " It all started when my village was getting burned, people were crying for forgiveness. But they didn't care all they wanted was to conquer and to kill lives of those who starved and screamed for freedom. I knew there was going to be many to die this night, but I had to keep it calm knowing that it is up to me to make a difference, and that's when it all began ……….war against those who slowly killed the lives of innocents....   [tags: Papers]

Strong Essays
1242 words (3.5 pages)