Saturday, December 29, 2007

Quote of The Day


The ease and apparent naturalness of our dating system conspire to beguile us into overlooking the fact that all of the dates it generates are themselves ultimately synchronisms. The centuries-long work on constructing a coherent historical chronology on an axis of B.C.E./C.E. time has been absorbed and naturalized so thoroughly by all of us that we can take it completely for granted, and forget just how much synchronistic work our predecessors going back to the Renaissance had to do in order for us to be able to say something like 'Xerxes invaded Greece in 480 B.C.E.' This project of domestication has brought incalculable benefits in terms of convenience and transferability, but it is one that students of antiquity should be regularly defamiliarizing, because we lose as much in historical understanding as we gain in convenience when we cloak discrepant ancient data with the apparently scientific unified weave of the Julian calendar and the B.C./A.D. system. (Italics mine; excerpt from Caesar's Calendar; 12).

3 comments:

Dr. Rod Decker said...

It would be appreciated when you post a quote if you would also include full bibliog info.

Matthew D. Montonini said...

Sorry, Rod.

Thanks for checking in.

Matt

Dr. Rod Decker said...

Looks like I sparked some concern. Sorry. I don't mean to imply that you ought to give a complete, formal bibliog entry every time, but look at it this way--if someone hits a Permalink for one of your blog posts, or finds a post with a blog search, they won't have any other posts easily available--and some of us might not go hunting. If it isn't obvious to someone not reading you blog regularly, it might be very helpful to make the refs more explicit. It just so happens that I didn't recognize the title "Caesar's Calendar" as the title of a recent book, and the post I read gave no author or Amazon link. The quote sounded interesting, but we don't all have time to track down everything that sounds interesting. Now that you've commented explicitly on it, I read back through your blog and found the two previous entries that give that info--but I hadn't previously. If you make your blog contributions easier for a reader to "chase," you'll likely have more serious readers. Thanks.