SammendragThe idea of history as magistra vitae â a collection of good and bad examples â was a central topos of historical writing in the West from Antiquity till the late 18th century. The idea has served a number of different ends, motivating advanced political theory as well as functioning as a mere saying. The article investigates two history books, both written for pedagogical purposes, and produced according to this idea: Johannes Schefferusâ Memorabilum Sueticae gentis exemplorum liber singularis from 1671 and Ove Mallingâs Store og gode Handlinger af Danske, Norske og Holstenere from 1777. The books differ considerably from modern history books in not being structured chronologically but according to the virtues the histories are meant to illustrate. The article compares the booksâ structure, tables of contents, selection of virtues and introductory texts. The aim is to explore how the books communicate quite different ideas about individuals and society despite their very similar structure and their shared idea of the meaning of history and its didactic usefulness.
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