Society and contemporary culture seem forever fascinated by the topic of time. In modern fiction, Ian McEwan (The Child in Time) and Martin Amis (Time's Arrow) have led the way in exploring the human condition in relation to past, present and future. In cinema, several cultural texts (Memento, Mirity Report, The Hours) have similarly reflected a preoccupation with temporality and human experience. And in the sphere of politics, debates about the 'end of history', prompted by Francis Fukuyama, indicate that how we live is deeply determined by our relationship t only to place but also to the passing of time. But what did the ancients think about time? Is our interest in chrology a relatively recent phemen? Or does it go further back? In his major new work, Duncan Kennedy indicates that our own fascination with time-reckoning is by means unique. Discussing a number of key texts (such as Homer's Odyssey; Sophocles' Oedipus Rex; Virgil's Aeneid; and Ovid's Metamophoses) and imaginatively setting these side-by-side with modern works (such as Sterne's Tristram Shandy and Joyce's Ulysses), he shows that, from era to era, and in different ways, human beings have uniformly striven to understand the unfolding of history and their relationship to it.
Duncan F. Kennedy is Professor Emeritus of Latin Literature and the Theory of Criticism in the Department of Classics and Ancient History at Bristol University. In addition, he is the co-editor, with Charles Martindale of the 'New Directions in Classics' series published by I.B. Tauris. His previous books include 'The Arts of Love: Five Studies in the Discourse of Roman Love Elegy' (1993) and 'Rethinking Reality: Lucretius and the Textualisation of Nature' (2002)