Anachronism and Antiquity
This Leverhulme Trust-funded project, running from
2016 to 2019, is undertaking the first systematic study of the concept of
anachronism in Greco-Roman antiquity and of the role played by the idea of
anachronism in the formation of the concept of antiquity itself.
The project, led by Professor Tim Rood and Professor John Marincola,
looks at both classical and modern material, pairing close analysis of
surviving literary and material evidence from classical antiquity with detailed
study of the post-classical term ‘anachronism’, and with modern theoretical
writings that link the notion of anachronism with the conceptualization of
antiquity. This involves an examination of Greek and Roman texts, images, and
material objects with a focus on the conceptions of the past underlying
perceptions of historical change. By assessing in detail how anachronism
operates in a variety of ancient generic contexts, including historiography,
the history of philosophy, doxography and literary commentary, the project aims
to develop a more detailed and sophisticated account of the use of anachronism and temporalities
For news of our research and activities, please visit our project blog at anachronismandantiquity.wordpress.com
half-century has witnessed a sustained interrogation into the ‘genealogy’ of
historical periodization. Observing that temporality is not a historical given,
scholars have suggested that true temporal understanding came into existence
only with the Enlightenment, since earlier societies lacked notions of anachronism
and a separate past. The goal of this project is to challenge this assumption
by offering the first systematic scholarly study of the concept of anachronism
in Greco-Roman antiquity. It is (re-)examining Greek and Roman texts, images,
and material objects in order to assess how anachronism operates in a variety
of generic contexts.
‘Anachronism and Antiquity’ project questions and enriches the premises that
underwrite the archaeology of modernity’s temporality, not least by determining
whether the claims of modern theorists of history are true. In general, the
focus among philosophers of history on post-eighteenth-century European
temporality has resulted in a perception that what is distinctive about modern
temporality must be placed in contradistinction to antiquity’s under-negotiated
temporal (sub)consciousness. This project argues, by contrast, that there are
many indications that the ancients did have a sense of anachronism that is not
wholly different from modern notions.
Professor Tim Rood (Dorothea Gray Fellow
in Classics), St. Hugh's College.
John Marincola (Leon Golden Professor
of Classics, Florida State University, Visiting Professor of Greek and Latin, University of Oxford).
Dr Carol Atack (Junior Research Fellow), St Hugh's College.
Dr Tom Phillips (Supernumerary Fellow), Merton College.