National Antiquities

Monika Baár

in Historians and Nationalism

Published in print February 2010 | ISBN: 9780199581184
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191722806 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Historical Monographs

National Antiquities

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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Chapter 6, ‘National Antiquities’, looks at the problems of origins and the representation of early societies in the historians' work. It points to the crucial role that myths of origins have occupied in European historiography. It discusses various versions of ‘antiquity’: Nordic, Indo‐European, Latin, ‘Semi‐Nomadic’ and a putative Slavic variant. It demonstrates that early societies were portrayed by an appeal to Tacitean topoi and were strikingly similar to representations in mainstream historiography. Social justice, equality, common ownership of lands, and chiefs who selflessly represented their community characterized this idyllic ahistorical situation. The view is put forward that images of antiquity were relational and competitive, as claims about seniority were typically made in relation to equivalent assertions about other nations.

Keywords: national antiquities; myths of origin; Tacitean liberties; Nordic antiquity; Slavonic antiquity; Latin antiquity; Indo‐European antiquity; Semi‐Nomadic antiquity; ancient democracy; pagan culture

Chapter.  11547 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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