Cultural Memory and Identity in Ancient Societies (Cultural by Martin Bommas

By Martin Bommas

In contemporary years reminiscence has develop into a important proposal in ancient stories, following the definition of the time period 'Cultural reminiscence' by means of the Egyptologist Jan Assmann in 1994. wondering reminiscence, as either anyone and a social phenomenon, has ended in a brand new means of conceptualizing heritage and has drawn historians into debate with students in different disciplines akin to literary experiences, cultural thought and philosophy. the purpose of this quantity is to discover reminiscence and id in old societies. ‘We are what we bear in mind' is the impressive thesis of the Nobel laureate Eric R Kandel, and this holds both real for historical societies as glossy ones. How did the societies of Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome take into accout and commemorate the prior? How have been relationships to the previous, either person and collective, articulated? Exploring the stability among reminiscence as survival and reminiscence as reconstruction, and among reminiscence and traditionally recorded truth, this quantity finds the best way historical societies shaped their cultural identity.

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Also the study of S. Hendricks and R. Friedman 2003: 95–109 according to which not only wars but also alliences between the biggest communities led to the formation of the Egyptian state. e. Naqada (II period), Hierakonpolis, and Abydos three different ‘proto-states’ that later merged into one single Upper Egyptian state (Cf. Campagno 2004: 698–699 with further references). 65 Like, for instance, the building of subterranean chambers with mud-bricks in several sites all over Egypt since the end of the Naqada II period and throughout the Naqada III 24 C u lt u r a l M e m o r y a n d I d e n t i t y i n A n ci e n t S o ci e t i e s period (cf.

G. g. 127. ). 419). The sēma which Achilles raises for 29 S i l e n t V o ic e s ? 326–332). ) memory has been lost, even in the person of aged Nestor. The shade of Elpenor, importuning Odysseus in the underworld in Odyssey 11, implores him not just to perform the rites of burial for him but to ‘raise a sēma for me by the shore of the hoary sea, unlucky man that I am, so that people in time to come may learn of me; do this for me’, it says, ‘and plant my oar on my tomb, the one with which, when I was alive, I rowed beside my comrades’ (11.

From the sixth century bc, we find increasing numbers of inscribed stones recording the name and lineage of deceased persons, and, in some cases, verses commemorating them: hexameters in the manner of epic or – what eventually becomes the norm – elegiac couplets of hexameter and pentameter. What was the purpose of these inscriptions? As will be seen, they often imply an expectation of engagement with the passer-by as reader. Thus, to take an example more or less at random, an elegiac couplet inscribed on a marble monument base, of uncertain provenance but now in the Epigraphical Museum in Athens and thought to date from around 500 bc, reads as follows (as printed by Hansen, CEG 68, slightly simplified in that I have omitted dots below damaged letters): παιδὸς ἀποφθιμένοιο Κλεοίτο τ Μεν|εσαίχμο μνμ’ ἐσορν οἴκτιρ’ ὸς καλὸς | ὂν ἔθανε or with modernized spelling παιδὸς ἀποφθιμένοιο Κλεοίτου τοῦ Μενεσαίχμου μνῆμ’ ἐσορῶν οἴκτιρ’, ὃς καλὸς ὢν ἔθανε Of a boy who has perished, Kleoites son of Menesaichmos, as you look on the memorial pity him, who was handsome when he died.

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