12 Pages

Historical Consciousness in Antiquity

WithPaul Gottfried

The author's research in late eighteenth-century and early nineteenth-century European intellectual history drove home the central importance of this heritage of thought and methodology, and the fact of how closely related history and rhetoric have been for the modems as well as the ancients. Though Romans learned to do history from the Greeks, they ignored the wall of separation that Hellenistic historians had erected between themselves and the teachers of rhetoric. The true flowering of Western historiography, after antiquity, began in the eighteenth century and extended from Montesquieu, the Scottish Enlightenment, Edward Gibbon, and Edmund Burke down to the great German, French, and other continental historians of the nineteenth century. Rhetorical historians and historically minded rhetoricians advanced Western historical consciousness by transforming interrelatedness from a causal concept into an image of both organic unity and civilizational continuity.