Hindsight in Greek and Roman History
Anton Powell (Ed.)
ISBN 13: 9781905125586, hardback, 300pp, 2013, GB £50
Nine new studies here explore, and reconstruct, determinant episodes of Greek, Hellenistic and Roman history. The authors argue that hindsight – especially in modern works – has falsified the past, by playing down or eliminating the record of ancient unfulfilled forecasts, and of trends in events which in the long term did not obviously prove predominant. The authors also highlight the efforts of the best-placed writers in Antiquity not to be misled by hindsight, but rather to give due weight to the working of hopes and fears, and of trends in events, which with remote retrospect would tend to be belittled or forgotten.
The techniques demonstrated in this book open new fields of research across Ancient History: they illuminate almost every ancient episode for which there is evidence of what historical agents planned or anticipated. The authors show convincingly that, by giving due respect to trends observable, and to political predictions made, in Antiquity, historians of today are better placed to evaluate outcomes: to see how easily events might have developed differently, or even to show that concrete outcomes were different from those conventionally portrayed from hindsight.
Introduction - Anton Powell
1 Historical explanation and what didn’t happen: the virtues of virtual history - Christopher Pelling
2 Herodotos and the avoidance of hindsight - Emily Baragwanath
3 Athens’ Sicilian expedition: contemporary scenarios of its outcome - Roger Brock
4 The shadow of what might have been: sideshadowing in Thucydides and Xenophon - Lisa Irene Hau
5 Spartan supremacy: a ‘possession for ever’? Early-fourth-century expectations of enduring ascendancy - Helen Roche
6 Confusing aim and result? Hindsight and the disintegration of Alexander the Great’s empire - Alexander Meeus
7 How to avoid being a backward-looking prophet – counterfactuals in Polybius Felix - K. Maier
8 Anticipating Octavian’s failure: from Tauromenium to the death of Cleopatra - Anton Powell
9 Memoriae eximere: AD 41 and the survival of republicanism under the Principate - Katherine Low