The First Pagan Historian: The Fortunes of a Fraud from Antiquity to the Enlightenment (Hardback)
  • The First Pagan Historian: The Fortunes of a Fraud from Antiquity to the Enlightenment (Hardback)
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The First Pagan Historian: The Fortunes of a Fraud from Antiquity to the Enlightenment (Hardback)

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£53.00
Hardback 366 Pages
Published: 10/12/2020
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In The History of the Destruction of Troy, Dares the Phrygian boldly claimed to be an eyewitness to the Trojan War, while challenging the accounts of two of the ancient world's most canonical poets, Homer and Virgil. For over a millennium, Dares' work was circulated as the first pagan history. It promised facts and only facts about what really happened at Troy - precise casualty figures, no mention of mythical phenomena, and a claim that Troy fell when Aeneas and other Trojans betrayed their city and opened its gates to the Greeks. But for all its intrigue, the work was as fake as it was sensational. From the late antique encyclopedist Isidore of Seville to Thomas Jefferson, The First Pagan Historian offers the first comprehensive account of Dares' rise and fall as a reliable and canonical guide to the distant past. Along the way, it reconstructs the central role of forgery in longstanding debates over the nature of history, fiction, criticism, philology, and myth, from ancient Rome to the Enlightenment.

Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
ISBN: 9780190492304
Number of pages: 366
Weight: 672 g
Dimensions: 242 x 164 x 27 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
In The First Pagan Historian: The Fortunes of a Fraud from Antiquity to the Enlightenment, Frederic Clark traces the medieval afterlife and early modern survival of Dares's text to 1800-long after the arrival of the Homeric epics from the Greek East and their cultivation by humanists in the West. As Clark accords equal attention to the medieval and early modern circulation of Dares's text in manuscript and print, The First Pagan Historian magisterially charts Dares's changing status, from Isidore of Seville's designation of Dares as the "first pagan historian" (6) to the early modern classification of Dares as a fraud for claiming to have fought at Troy and preserved an eyewitness record. * Marilynn Desmond, Binghamton University, Journal of British Studies *
It is precisely a book a classicist should read. * Jane Lightfoot, Histos *
Clark's discussion is powerful. * Jane Lightfoot, Histos *
Riveting.... Clark's book is heavy on detail, but the story that weaves in and out of those details is fascinating. It is a tale of the medieval Latin West's embattled, shifting relationship with the 'pagan' past it both claimed and rejected; of the slow congealing of the distinction between narrative truth and narrative fiction; of the enduring magnetic pull of the Trojan War and the myths around it; and of the emergence of Enlightenment mentalities, with their aggressive intolerance of fakery. * Times Literary Supplement *
Clark has done very good work in unearthing some impressively obscure books and scholars... Clark's book...is itself much more entertaining than its subject. * James Zetzel, Columbia University, Bryn Mawr Classical Review *
This is an important contribution to our study of ancient texts and their afterlives. At the same time, it is a penetrating meditation on the fluid nature of textual authenticity. From late antiquity to the early modern era, the putatively eyewitness History of the Destruction of Troy by Dares the Phrygian was enormously exploited as an authentic counter-narrative to the poetic versions of Homer and Virgil. Yet its claims and reputation, from reverence to repudiation, have remained little studied, until Frederic Clark's broad-ranging and learned book. The book's historical reach, and the range of skills and materials it employs, are magisterial; they are deployed with enviable discipline and economy. * Christopher Baswell, Columbia University and Barnard College *
In this magnificent book, Frederic Clark has contributed a milestone to the interdisciplinary study of the European Renaissance, medieval European culture, and the field of classical reception. With enormous expertise and discernment, he discusses more than a hundred of Dares' readers - enthusiastic, antagonistic, perplexed. And Clark explores, on a vast and exhilarating plane, their cultural, political, and literary assumptions; their concerns reach far beyond the exposure of forgery into the history of printing, the veracity of Virgil's Aeneid, and the theory of historical witnesses. His story marvelously combines cultural change with surprising continuities between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. I recommend it to a broad group of erudite readers and students. * Kristine Haugen, California Institute of Technology *
In this marvelous book, Frederic Clark traces the making and reception of a forgery - a very popular and durable work by one Dares the Phrygian, which told the story of the Trojan War from the losing side. He introduces the reader to the extraordinary characters - scribes and printers, chroniclers and poets - who kept Dares' account alive for many centuries, and the scholars who came to see it as a fake. He challenges conventional ideas about the borders between forgery and fiction, and medieval and Renaissance scholarship. And he does it all in graceful, readable prose. * Anthony T. Grafton, Princeton University *

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