History, Legend, Myth

Remembering and Forgetting the Great Persecution in Late Antique Egypt
vendredi 17 novembre 2017 à 14 h 30
Geoffrey Greatrex
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(En anglais seulement)

Aaltje Hidding (LMU-Munich)

History, Legend, Myth - Remembering and Forgetting the Great Persecution in Late Antique Egypt:

Today as well as in the ancient world, societies are characterized by a high degree of relatedness to the past. Whether through family histories, historical walks, local museums, or schoolbooks – the past is always represented and engaged with the present. It follows that, when that present lies years, decades, or even ages back in the past, it becomes more and more difficult to grasp how the people living then conceived their past. How to study the past of an ancient society, when even contemporary life of that society is hard to reconstruct? How are we to conceive the memories of past peoples such as, in the case of my dissertation, the memories of the Great Persecution of Christians in Late Antique Egypt?

This talk has two aims. First, I will discuss the terminology commonly used in memory studies and argue that certain important aspects of remembering and forgetting may be significantly illuminated by insights from cognitive science. The resulting methodological framework, the ‘cognitive ecology’, is a promising basis for researching the ways in which we remember the past. In the second part of this talk, I will show the applicability of this concept to memory studies about the ancient world with a case-study about the memories of the Great Persecution in Late Antique Oxyrhynchus.Particular attention will be paid to how the martyrs of Oxyrhynchus were remembered: who formulated and promulgated the dominant memories? What cognitive artefacts were used to remember the martyrs? Where were martyrs remembered, and how did the environment influence the ways in which the persecution was remembered?