The First Pagan Historian

Dares Phrygius and the History of Forgery

Frederic Clark

ISAW Visiting Assistant Professor

This lecture examines several episodes in the neglected 1500-year afterlife of the forged De excidio Troiae historia or History of the Destruction of Troy of pseudo-Dares Phrygius. Although the Latin De excidio was a late antique fabrication composed most likely in the fifth or sixth century CE, its author claimed to be an eyewitness to the Trojan War, whose account of the conflict openly contradicted such canonical sources as Virgil and Homer.  Deemed by many to be the first pagan to write history, Dares infiltrated numerous domains of literary culture in medieval and early modern Europe.  From his influence on myths of Trojan ancestry and medieval distinctions between history and fiction to his simultaneous denunciation and acceptance by Renaissance philologists and printers, Dares and his reception provide a unique and counterintuitive perspective on changing ideas of authorship and authenticity—from the ancient Greco-Roman world to the eighteenth-century Enlightenment.

Frederic Clark is Visiting Assistant Professor at the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at NYU. He received his PhD in History from Princeton University (2014), his BA in History and Literature from Harvard University (2008), and an MPhil in Medieval History from the University of Cambridge (2009). Clark’s research examines the cultural and intellectual history of medieval and early modern Europe, with particular focus on how visions of the ancient past were received and appropriated from the early Middle Ages to the Enlightenment. His specific areas of interest include the history of the book and reading, the afterlife of Latin literature, and the history of historical thought.

Admission to lecture closes 10 minutes after scheduled start time.

Reception to follow.

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