Cover image for Herodotus
Title:
Herodotus
Author:
Romm, James S.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven : Yale University Press, [1998]

©1998
Physical Description:
xv, 212 pages ; 22 cm.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780300072297

9780300072303
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library D56.52.H45 R66 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Popular Materials-Biography
Searching...

On Order

Summary

Summary

This study argues that Herodotus was both a historian and a master storyteller. Romm discusses the historical background of Herodotus' life and work, his moralistic approach to history, his fascination with people and places, his literary powers, and the question of historical truth.


Summary

Herodotus, widely known as the father of history, was also described by Aristotle as a mythologos , or "tale-teller." In this stylish and insightful book, intended for both general readers and students, James Romm argues that the author of the Histories was both a historian--in the original sense of "one who inquires"--and a master storyteller.

Although most ancient historians wrote only about events they themselves had lived through, Herodotus explored an era well before his own time--from the rise of the Persian Empire to the Persian invasions of Greece in 490 and 480 B.C., the heroic fight of the Greeks against the invaders, and the final Greek victory. Working without the aid of written sources, Herodotus traveled widely and wove into his chronology descriptions of people and countries he visited and anecdotes that shed light on their lives and customs. Romm discusses the historical background of Herodotus`s life and work, his moralistic approach to history, his insatiable fascination with people and places, his literary powers, and the question of the historical "truth" behind the stories he relates. He gives general readers a fresh appreciation of the Histories as a work encompassing fiction and nonfiction, myth and history, and poetry and prose. Herodotus becomes not simply a source of historical data but a masterful and artistic author who created a radically new literary genre.

Hermes Books
John Herington, Founding Editor


Reviews 4

Booklist Review

The editor of the Hermes Books series, which Romm's book continues, contends that ancient classics have become so buried beneath academic analyses that the general reader has lost interest in them. On the literary bones of Herodotus, careers have been built debunking the palpably false or unprovable yarns in his Histories. Romm, while recognizing such problems with the work, asks a new reader to suspend doubts about its veracity. He aims to instill an appreciation of the greatness of the work, and his book successfully leads the reader to that conclusion. For starters, Herodotus made prose an acceptable form of literature, against a centuries-old tradition in which Homeric verse had held exclusive sway. Travel literature certainly originated with Herodotus, however unbelievably fantastic his stories seem; the analysis of international conflict got its start, too, in Herodotus' accounts of the Persian wars, though that analysis was couched in terms of destiny and divine retribution. For all his flaws, Herodotus remains an immortal read, and Romm provides insightful tips on how to read him. --Gilbert Taylor


Choice Review

Herodotus' Histories is one of the most charming and baffling of Greek works. Within the framework of a history of the confrontation between Greece and Persia in the early fifth century BCE, Herodotus encompassed the whole of the world known to the Greeks. Not surprisingly, the first-time reader can easily lose the narrative thread of Herodotus' complex work without a guide. Romm has provided Greekless readers with just such a guide. In 12 lucid chapters he places Herodotus in the context of Greek history and literature and identifies the main themes of his great work. Romm clearly analyzes the many ways in which Herodotus used Homer as a literary model. He also demonstrates the originality of Herodotus' critique of Ionian geography. Weaknesses are few in this excellent work. One, however, is serious: the author fails to indicate the controversial character of his view that Herodotus first composed the narrative of the Persian War and only later expanded its scope to include the account of the history and geography of the Persian Empire and its peoples. This fine work belongs in the libraries of all universities and colleges. All levels. S. M. Burstein; California State University, Los Angeles


Booklist Review

The editor of the Hermes Books series, which Romm's book continues, contends that ancient classics have become so buried beneath academic analyses that the general reader has lost interest in them. On the literary bones of Herodotus, careers have been built debunking the palpably false or unprovable yarns in his Histories. Romm, while recognizing such problems with the work, asks a new reader to suspend doubts about its veracity. He aims to instill an appreciation of the greatness of the work, and his book successfully leads the reader to that conclusion. For starters, Herodotus made prose an acceptable form of literature, against a centuries-old tradition in which Homeric verse had held exclusive sway. Travel literature certainly originated with Herodotus, however unbelievably fantastic his stories seem; the analysis of international conflict got its start, too, in Herodotus' accounts of the Persian wars, though that analysis was couched in terms of destiny and divine retribution. For all his flaws, Herodotus remains an immortal read, and Romm provides insightful tips on how to read him. --Gilbert Taylor


Choice Review

Herodotus' Histories is one of the most charming and baffling of Greek works. Within the framework of a history of the confrontation between Greece and Persia in the early fifth century BCE, Herodotus encompassed the whole of the world known to the Greeks. Not surprisingly, the first-time reader can easily lose the narrative thread of Herodotus' complex work without a guide. Romm has provided Greekless readers with just such a guide. In 12 lucid chapters he places Herodotus in the context of Greek history and literature and identifies the main themes of his great work. Romm clearly analyzes the many ways in which Herodotus used Homer as a literary model. He also demonstrates the originality of Herodotus' critique of Ionian geography. Weaknesses are few in this excellent work. One, however, is serious: the author fails to indicate the controversial character of his view that Herodotus first composed the narrative of the Persian War and only later expanded its scope to include the account of the history and geography of the Persian Empire and its peoples. This fine work belongs in the libraries of all universities and colleges. All levels. S. M. Burstein; California State University, Los Angeles


Google Preview