Cover image for Herodotus : the histories : new translation, selections, backgrounds, commentaries
Title:
Herodotus : the histories : new translation, selections, backgrounds, commentaries
Author:
Herodotus.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
History. English
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Norton, [1992]

©1992
Physical Description:
xx, 433 pages : 1 map ; 22 cm.
Language:
English
Subject Term:
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9780393959468
Format :
Book

Available:*

Library
Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library D58 .H4713 1992 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Central Library D58 .H4713 1992 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

Walter Blanco's translation manages both to remain true to the spirit and letter of the original Greek and to be readily understandable to American students.The selections from The Histories show Herodotus as ethnographer and as narrative historian, including his rich descriptions of Egyptian civilization and its contributions to Greek culture and his dramatic account of the Persian wars"Backgrounds and Commentaries" provide students with a context for understanding Herodotus's place at the genesis of the historical narrative tradition. Great classical accounts by Aeschylus, Thucydides, Aristotle, and Plutarch serve as comparative pieces in early historical narrative while critical commentaries by modern scholars--including Hume, Mill, Macaulay, Collingwood, Momigliano, Ferrill, and others--engage students in the debate over Herodotus's historical authority.A master Map, Chronology of Events, Glossary of names, places, and terms, and explanatory footnotes facilitate the student's understanding of this work. A Bibliography directs readers to resources for further study.


Author Notes

Herodotus was the inventor of universal history. Often called the Father of History, his histories are divided into nine books named after the nine muses. A native of Halicarnassus on the coast of Asia Minor (modern Bodrum, Turkey), he traveled extensively, writing lively descriptions of the lands he saw and the peoples he encountered.

Herodotus set out to relate the story of the conflict of the Greeks of his own time against the "barbarian" Asiatic empire of Achaemenid Persia. His long narrative, titled by modern convention The Histories, begins with the earliest traditions he believed reliable. It ends with a highly colored account of the defeat of the Persian emperor Xerxes and his immense army of slaves by a much smaller number of Greeks fighting to preserve their freedom.

Herodotus wrote history, but his methods and assumptions were not those of a modern historian, and his work was unjustly rejected by his successor Thucydides as factually highly unreliable and full of inappropriate romance. By his own admission, Herodotus retold the stories of other peoples without necessarily believing them all. This allowed him total artistic freedom and control to create a picture of the world that corresponded entirely to his own view of it. The result is a picture of Herodotus's world that is also a picture of his mind and, therefore, of many other Greek minds during the period known as "late Archaic."

During this period, the Greek mind was dominated by reason, the domain of the first philosophers and the observant and thoughtful medical theorists of the Hippocratic school. Traditional beliefs in the gods of Homer and in their Oracles, especially the Oracle at Delphi, also dominated during this period.

The literary genius of Herodotus consisted in the art of the storyteller. The stories he chose to tell, and the order in which he told them, provide his readers with a total view of his world and the way in which the will of the gods and the ambitions of humans interacted to produce what is known as history. For this reason the ancient critic Longinus justly called Herodotus "the most Homeric of all authors." Like Homer, Herodotus strove to understand the world theologically---a goal that makes his work difficult for the reader to understand at first.

But, in place of Homer's divine inspiration, Herodotus used his eyes and ears and wrote not poetry but prose. Rejecting what is commonly known as myth, he accepted instead "oral tradition" about remembered events. For example, although he believed that the Trojan War had been fought, he could not investigate it beyond what the poets had said. In his view this "ancient history" of the Greeks and the peoples of Asia was not like contemporary history, because the heroes of old who had created it were beings of a different and superior order who had had a different, direct, and personal relationship with the gods. In recognizing this distinction, Herodotus defined for all time the limits of the historian's discipline.

(Bowker Author Biography)


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