Historical and Religious Memory in the Ancient World
Beate Dignas, R. R. R. Smith
OUP Oxford, Mar 15, 2012 - History - 338 pages
Historical and Religious Memory in the Ancient World examines how religious and historical memory was fashioned, distorted, preserved, or erased in ancient societies - and what wide-ranging effects these actions had on the historical process. The volume is interested in how memory intersects with and shapes religious traditions and cultural identities. Its twelve case studies explore different aspects of the memory layers that make up ancient history (social, religious, cultural), and looks at how these layers are represented and refracted in different contexts of the written and material remains of antiquity. The process has its beginnings in the dim pasts of ancient communities, and continues in the later Greek and Roman periods where our most articulate ancient evidence lies. It is a process that continues, in a different way, in contemporary scholarship which draws on selected evidence and a variety of contrasting representations. The three parts of the book vary the lens through which the impact of religious and cultural memory can be grasped. Part I looks at the commemoration of religious tradition in the context of cultural interaction - Greek, Roman, Jewish, and Christian. Part II focuses on how religious identities are defined and how homogenous-looking cultures engage in elaborate selective dialogue with their own past. In Part III, contested versions of the past are interpreted in studies of Roman historiography and of religiously motivated behaviour in late antique Asia Minor. This interdisciplinary book highlights and celebrates the work of Simon Price, an important thinker and pioneer in this kind of wider historical research in ancient cultures and religions.