Honours for historians: historiography and civic identity in the Hellenistic and Roman polis : third century BCE to third century CE
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 11:00 authored by Marcus Jia Hao Chin
Across the Hellenistic and Roman imperial periods (third century BCE to third century CE) a number of inscriptions are attested which record honours specifically conferred by Greek city-state (polis) communities on individuals for narrating the past, through prose historical works, poetry, and even sculpture (‘historians’). While these documents have been approached with a view to understanding broader historical phenomena in this period – the proliferation of itinerant literary activity and the history of Greek historiography – they also offer specific insight into the social reality of historiography in the polis, and the polis’ conception of itself and its past through its historians. Three issues are therefore of interest. The first concerns the historiographical contents of these honoured historians, as insights into the sorts of pasts which were valued by the polis. Contiguous to this are the social contexts in which these historiographical works had relevance within the polis community, and between polis communities. A third aspect focuses on the creation of this relevance through the honorific act, as characterised in the inscription itself: this served to integrate the historian into the polis and its past, thereby expressing through gratitude ideals of social continuity into the future.