Historical Figure

A historical figure is a famous person in history, such as Florence Nightingale or Napoleon.

The significance of such figures in human progress has been debated. Some think they play a crucial role, while others say they have little impact on the broad currents of thought and social change. The concept is generally used in the sense that the person really existed in the past, as opposed to being legendary. However, the legends that can grow up around historical figures may be hard to distinguish from fact. Sources are often incomplete and may be inaccurate, particularly those from early periods of history. Without a body of personal documents, the more subtle aspects of personality of a historical figure can only be deduced. With historical figures who were also religious figures attempts to separate fact from belief may be controversial.

In education, presenting information as if it were being told by a historical figure may give it greater impact. Since classical times, students have been asked to put themselves in the place of a historical figure as a way of bringing history to life. Historical figures are often represented in fiction, where fact and fancy are combined. In earlier traditions before the rise of a critical historical tradition, authors were less careful to be as accurate as possible when describing what is known of the historical figures and their actions, interpolating imaginary elements intended to serve a moral purpose to events: such is the Monk of St. Gall's anecdotal account of Charlemagne, De Carolo Magno. More recently there has been a tendency once again for authors to freely depart from the "facts" when they conflict with their creative goals.

Read more about Historical Figure:  Significance, Historical Truth, Political Appropriation, In Education

Famous quotes containing the words historical and/or figure:

    Nature never rhymes her children, nor makes two men alike. When we see a great man, we fancy a resemblance to some historical person, and predict the sequel of his character and fortune, a result which he is sure to disappoint. None will ever solve the problem of his character according to our prejudice, but only in his high unprecedented way.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

    Evening attend two “fandangos.” Girls not very pretty but exceedingly graceful. [You] pay a dime for a figure and refreshments for your doxy, who instead of eating prudently stores her cakes, etc., in a basket to be taken home for the family.
    Rutherford Birchard Hayes (1822–1893)