Thursday, February 09, 2017


The Historian's Task

Lucian, How to Write History 39 (tr. K. Kilburn):
The historian's sole task is to tell the tale as it happened.

τοῦ δὴ συγγραφέως ἔργον ἕν—ὡς ἐπράχθη εἰπεῖν.

From Jaume Ripoll Miralda:
I find [the passage from Lucian] very interesting, specially in comparison to some comments made by the German historian Leopold von Ranke (1795-1886) in the Preface to his The History of the Latin and Teutonic Nations (1824):
History has had assigned to it the office of judging the past and of instructing the present for the benefit of the future ages. To such high offices the present work does not presume: it seeks only to show what actually happened.

Man hat der Historie das Amt, die Vergangenheit zu richten, die Mitwelt zum Nutzen zukünftiger Jahre zu belehren, beigemessen: so hoher Aemter unterwindet sich gegenwärtiger Versuch nicht: er will blos zeigen, wie es eigentlich gewesen.
The final sentence, wie es eigentlich gewesen ("what actually happened"), is some kind of motto for some historians even nowadays.

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