> Skip to content
  • Published: 16 May 2024
  • ISBN: 9780241360583
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 528

The Muse of History

The Ancient Greeks from the Enlightenment to the Present




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.

  • Published: 16 May 2024
  • ISBN: 9780241360583
  • Imprint: Penguin eBooks
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 528

Praise for The Muse of History

The Muse of History is a magisterial and deeply humane testament to the virtues of intellectual open-mindedness, studded with personal anecdotes from a lifetime of scholarship ... characterised by a salutary breadth of vision and a welcome hostility to the often unexamined assumptions of Anglo-Saxon empiricism

Henry Day, Literary Review

A quietly amazing book, written with an elegance and insight worthy of his mentor Arnaldo Momigliano

Nino Luraghi, Wykeham Professor of Greek History, University of Oxford

In this erudite and elegant book, Oswyn Murray examines how the history of Greece has been written from the Enlightenment to our own dark time. He follows historians as they travel, to explore Greek sites or to flee persecution; he examines scholarly traditions and institutions as they take shape; he catches new and powerful theses as they crystallize. Above all, he reveals the historians themselves, in all their complex humanity. It's a marvellous story, full of life and told with wit and warmth

Anthony Grafton, author of Magus

Oswyn Murray, a foremost historian of western antiquity, here combines trenchant historiographical analysis with biographical snapshots of a host of colourful and innovative classical scholars, many of whom he knew personally. The Muse of History is written with passion, wit, and the firm conviction that ancient history always has, and always will, be of great importance and interest to us all

Suzanne Marchand, author of Porcelain: A History from the Heart of Europe

Our greatest historian of archaic and classical Greece traces the formation and development of Ancient History amidst the often tragic events of post-Enlightenment Europe. A profound, inspiring and deeply personal book

Paul Kosmin, author of Time and its Adversaries in the Seleucid Empire

This is intellectual history at its best, amply demonstrating how modern authors, famous and forgotten alike, repeatedly and dynamically recast the ancient foundations on which the ideals and the very idea of Western civilization have continued to be constructed

Kenneth Lapatin, Curator of Antiquities, The Paul J. Getty Museum