Hailed by way of Cicero as "the father of history," Herodotus used to be either a severe philosopher and a full of life storyteller, a visitor who used to be either vacationer and anthropologist. Like Homer, he got down to memorialize nice deeds in phrases, particularly, the wars among Greece and Persia. In his arms, the Greeks' unforeseeable defeat of the Persian kings Darius and Xerxes with their great hosts made for interesting storytelling. motivated by way of the paintings of the traditional scientists and philosophers of his personal and prior eras, Herodotus additionally introduced his literary skills to undergo on an unlimited, unruly mass of ancient info, forsaking him the longest paintings that had ever been written in Greek. This Very brief creation introduces readers to what little is understood of Herodotus's existence and discusses all features of his paintings, together with his travels; his curiosity in seeing the realm and studying approximately non-Greek civilizations; the habitual topics of his paintings; his ideals in desires, oracles, and omens; the prominence of girls in his paintings; and his account of the battles of the Persian Wars.
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Extra resources for Herodotus: A Very Short Introduction
It's been stated with a few justice that Herodotus got here on the finish of a protracted oral culture and his more youthful modern Thucydides in the beginning of a literate one – Thucydides, who, in a slap at Herodotus, carped that his personal paintings used to be composed now not for applause after a splashy recitation yet as a ownership all the time. Herodotus, we would say, transcribed speech, while Thucydides inscribed notion. it really is this distinction that explains the distinction among Herodotus’s delightfully secure narrative, composed in what Aristotle referred to as the ‘strung-along style’, one unit flowing evidently into one other, and the sinewy prose of Thucydides, whose tight, occasionally contorted, syntax has been the melancholy of many a Greek scholar in the course of the a while. Heard or learn, the textual content of the historian increases an inevitable query: how will we belief what this individual says/writes? In poetry, there has been no doubt of the creator’s authority. The poet provided just one model of occasions, and, regardless of the insertion of speeches into his or her paintings, spoke in impact with one voice. frequently that was once the voice of the foundation. either Iliad and Odyssey had all started with an entice the foundation. ‘Sing, goddess, the wrath of Achilles, son of Peleus …’ starts off the Iliad; the Odyssey opens with ‘Sing to me, Muse, of the fellow of many units. …” in a while, it'd be the voice of the poet herself, as Sappho declares, for instance, that no sight is as attractive as that of the loved. not anyone goes to question them. No sceptic will say, ‘Can you end up that? What’s your proof? ’ Historians, despite the fact that, who can current the contested voices in their many assets as they wrangle with them to mildew a coherent photograph of the prior, needs to justify their claims to wisdom and knowing. historical past bargains either problem and chance. The historian’s resources has to be amassed ahead of they are often assembled and built-in. to collect them, the historian may well learn books (of which there have been few handy in Herodotus’s day), learn authentic files (not too a lot of these round either), interview informants, scrutinize fabric proof, and, in lots of situations, shuttle. as soon as accrued, the information needs to be wrestled into form in a way that spurs the reader (or listener) to have interaction with the textual content – yet to take action with no discounting the authority of the historian, with out brushing aside the museless artist’s claims to understand. time and again, figuring out that he can't be believed implicitly like a poet, Herodotus must convince us – through argument, through analogy, by means of the quotation of eyewitness proof or the phrases of oral informants – that he is aware what he's conversing approximately as he writes during this protean style we name heritage. we might dearly like to know the way Herodotus wrote this sprawling paintings. Did he make notes as he went alongside? Did he dictate to a slave who observed him on his travels? Writing in Greece was once a tough subject, revising much more so. Books have been truly lengthy scrolls of papyrus, a pricey and unwieldy fabric that discouraged the writing (or deciding to buy) of lengthy works.