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How does the use of the Life of Hadrian for historical reconstruction support or problematize Hayden White's argument on the c - Essay Example

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Name: Instructor: Course: Date: Hayden White’s Argument on the Creation of Historical Narratives The history as a narrative concept by Hayden White is an interesting concept, particularly when it becomes a debate between postmodernists and empiricists. This debate comes down to the issue of historical knowledge’s nature and about truth and untruth, which is the most fundamental question about history…
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How does the use of the Life of Hadrian for historical reconstruction support or problematize Hayden Whites argument on the c
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How does the use of the Life of Hadrian for historical reconstruction support or problematize Hayden White's argument on the c

Download file to see previous pages... The global nature of the world today necessitates scrutinizing of one’s views because there are so many historical points of view. The development of historiography means that the practitioner must develop his/her practice and conscience. Thus, Hayden White’s concept of narrative history is representative of constructivism in historiography. History is a difficult and ambiguous issue and may seem unreachable. However, it can be apprehended by structural thought. A historian should possess an array of skills, as well as the ability to utilize them in concert. For this reason, using the life of Hadrian to reconstruct history supports Hayden’s argument as it uses literature from other writers, some born a long time after his death, to reconstruct his story and that of the era he lived in. This is because little information about Hadrian exists with only snippets of information in historical texts. The 2nd century AD has numerous literary and documentary sources covering numerous issues. However, it is ironical that that little if any reliable historical narrative on the Roman emperors of this time exists. For this reason, Hadrian’s life can only be reconstructed using abbreviated accounts in Historia Augusta. Senator Marius Maximus, for example, proves to be a major contributor to the reconstruction of this period as he is quoted in the narrative. This is despite the fact that he lived two centuries after Emperor Hadrian’s death. For example, when reconstructing Hadrian’s interactions with the Spaniards after they refused to pay their levies, the text contends that “…to use the very words of Marius Maximus, and the others very vigorously, he took measures characterized by skill and discretion” (HA, Hadrian 39). Marius Maximus’ writings and works are used as the main basis for the Historia Augusta. The HA does seem to be based on hearsay and rumors and has signs of abbreviation and fabrication. For example, the author contends that “Even without the aid of a nomenclator he could call by name a great many people, whose names he had heard but once and then all in a crowd” (HA, Hadrian 65). For this reason, this historical narrative should be cautiously treated. However, seeing, as this is one of the only remaining sources still in existence about Hadrian and this era of emperors, it cannot be discarded. In fact, it becomes vital in filling in the gaps in the historical narrative of this period. Cassius Dio was a Roman Senator of Greek origin, and he lived in the third century. However, this does not stop the author of Historia Augusta from using him as a source to recreate this historical narrative. Again, this is because his writings deal directly with Hadrian and shed light on his life. Different from Marius Maximus, who has an unfavorable view of Hadrian, Dio is more favorable and so offers a different opinion of Hadrian that allows the writer to reconstruct Hadrian’s life. It is Dio who tells of Hadrian’s biography, which has since been lost by saying that, “So desirous of a wide-spread reputation was Hadrian that he even wrote his own biography” (HA, Hadrian 51). While the fact that Hadrian was known to love Greek culture, for example, the fact that he always reclined at table dressed either in a Greek cloak or a toga (HA, Hadrian 69), it offers ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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