The Muse of History

Oswyn Murray


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Penguin Books Ltd
16 May 2024
ISBN: 9780241360576
528 pages

From the publisher

How the modern world has understood the ancient Greeks and why they matter today

The study of ancient Greek history has been central to the western conception of history since the Renaissance. The Muse of History traces the shifting patterns of this preoccupation in the last three centuries, in which each generation has reinterpreted the Greeks in the light of their contemporary world, through times of revolution, conflicting ideologies and warfare. It aims to offer a new history of Greek historiography from the Enlightenment to the present, and to acknowledge the continuing spiritual importance of the ancient Greeks for European culture in the twentieth century under totalitarian persecutions. Through the study of different historians, many of them unjustly forgotten, it shows the problematic nature of the Anglo-Saxon tradition and the importance of ideas from the continent of Europe, the ambiguities of democracy, and the impossibility of understanding the past or the present outside our common European heritage. It ends by offering suggestions for the future of the study of the Greeks in the context of world history.