Bart D. Ehrman: Defining “Greco-Roman Biography”

Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, sixth edition (OUP, 2016), 99-100.

If I were to attempt a definition of the Greco-Roman biography, then, it might be something like this: ancient biography was a prose narrative recounting an individual’s life, often with a chronological framework, employing numerous subgenres (such as sayings, speeches, anecdotes, and conflict stories) so as to reflect important aspects of his or her character, principally for purposes of instruction (to inform about what kind of person he or she was), exhortation (to urge others to act similarly) or propaganda (to show his or her superiority to rivals).

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