COLLOQUIUM: John Dillery, University of Virgina, "'History Continuous and Comprehensive: Berossus, Manetho and the Curation of the Past"

Thursday, October 1, 2015 - 4:30pm to 6:30pm

402 Cohen Hall

In this talk I will 'think out loud' about the purpose behind national histories of the sort written by Berossus and Manetho. Specifically, why is it important that they be continuous, from the origins of organized human society to the present (or near-present) of the historian? Building on a brilliant paper by Arnaldo Momigliano ('Time in Ancient Historiography' History & Theory 6 [1966] 1-23; repr. in Essays in Ancient and Modern Historiography pp.179-204), I will contrast the thinking implicit in this approach to history with what we see in Herodotus: the view that only some events from the past ought to be treated, those that are intrinsically important and that are supported by available information of some sort. I will close the talk by considering how we can see Herodotus' treatment of the past as comprehensive, but not continuous.