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Fragment from Herodotus' "Histories," Book VIII on Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2099, dated to early 2nd century AD. Source: Wikimedia

Nina Maria Gorrissen Lecture in History

Herodotus and the Idea of Western Civilization: A 19th Century Story

In this lecture, Suzanne L. Marchand investigates both scholarly and popular nineteenth-century discussions of Herodotus’s Histories in Germany, Britain, and France to show that the idea of the Greco-Persian conflict as a civilization-defining moment was a rather new one after 1830. Previous commentators had found The Histories more interesting for their ethnographic, geographic, mythographic, chronological, and zoological content than for their accounts of the battles themselves or the supposed “clash of civilizations” they narrate. Marchand notes that while many commentators continued to read The Histories for this wider range of purposes, many nineteenth-century European liberals leveraged the book to produce a powerful, long-lasting “clash” narrative that would frame key discussions about “Western” values from the mid-nineteenth century onward, despite the fact that Europeans have never reached a consensus regarding the originating moments and elements of ‘Western’ civilization.

18 Oct 22
History
18.10.2022 Add to iCal
19:30 - 21:00
American Academy in Berlin
Am Sandwerder 17-19
14109 Berlin

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