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Date of Award

5-1972

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Greek

Supervisor

W.J. Slater

Language

English

Abstract

This thesis presents an attempt to classify the various types of fictional material commonly found in ancient Greek biographies, and to suggest to what extent the recognition of the recurrence of certain types of anecdote may provide a useful guideline for determining the historicity of biographical statements. After a discussion of the sources available to the biographers and the dangers inherent in the careless use of them, several types of recurring biographical motifs are isolated and particular instances of them are treated in detail. Among the factors seen to cause recurrence are: folk motifs underlying the material derived from popular tradition, topoi of invective present in the biographer's comic and rhetorical sources, the transference of general-purpose witty anecdotes, and recurring patterns of thought in the biographers' own minds due to their popularizing aims, preconceptions about history, and philosophical outlook.

McMaster University Library

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