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Entering the AgonDissent and Authority in Homer, Historiography, and Tragedy$
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Elton T. E. Barker

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199542710

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199542710.001.0001

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Introduction: writing in dissent

Introduction: writing in dissent

Chapter:
(p.137) Introduction: writing in dissent
Source:
Entering the Agon
Author(s):

Elton T.E. Barker (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199542710.003.0005

This section establishes the context for reading the historians' differing responses to the foundational narratives of Homeric epic. It identifies the key aspect for thinking about debate in the historians in terms of their marginality: as writers of prose they stand on the margins of their culture, which privileges the spoken word in public contexts, and being personally responsible for their accounts they also rely on the way in which they present their material to lend authority to their narratives. As a result, this section posits a much closer, and more nuanced, relationship between Herodotus and Thucydides than is usually conceived, which sees both authors responding to the problems of writing in an oral culture in the ways that they represent debate. At the same time it reconfigures their differences in terms of rival ‘Odyssean’ and ‘Iliadic’ narrative trajectories depending on their strategies for eliciting authority or taking a stand.

Keywords:   historiography, marginality, prose accounts, writing, Herodotus, Thucydides, debate, dissent, authority

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