Did you know that ancient historians made up the speeches of prominent figures and presented them as if these figures had actually said them?
I find this fascinating considering the lengths we all have to go through in this day and age to make sure we do not commit plagiarism. The following extracts by Trevor Fear taken from The Open University book Reputations gives further insight:
It is important for the modern reader to be able to see where a historian gets
his or her information from, and to be able to judge how reliable his or
her sources are likely to be.
Ancient historians seldom refer to the sources of their information, and certainly don’t feel
obliged to justify their assertions.
Then (ancient) historians used their own judgement to put a speech into the
mouth of a historical character, gauging what was likely to have been
said by such a character in a particular situation. Such speeches are not a
record of what was said, but rather plausible ﬁctions.
In this manner the work of ancient historians can
seem to be a bit like a play or novel where what happens is often
predetermined by the way the author has presented the make-up of his
or her characters.
‘Cleopatra’ by Trevor Fear, taken from Reputations
I feel like this is the earliest version of creative nonfiction. Or is it just historical fiction masked as actual history? In either event I am glad we have different standards in which we judge information. The line between fact and fiction may be running thinner than ever, but it is still good to know which is which.