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The Histories

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One of the masterpieces of classical literature, the "Histories" describes how a small and quarrelsome band of Greek city states united to repel the might of the Persian empire. But while this epic struggle forms the core of his work, Herodotus' natural curiosity frequently gives rise to colorful digressions - a description of the natural wonders of Egypt; an account of Eu One of the masterpieces of classical literature, the "Histories" describes how a small and quarrelsome band of Greek city states united to repel the might of the Persian empire. But while this epic struggle forms the core of his work, Herodotus' natural curiosity frequently gives rise to colorful digressions - a description of the natural wonders of Egypt; an account of European lake-dwellers; and far-fetched accounts of dog-headed men and gold-digging ants. With its kaleidoscopic blend of fact and legend, the "Histories" offers a compelling Greek view of the world of the fifth century BC.


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One of the masterpieces of classical literature, the "Histories" describes how a small and quarrelsome band of Greek city states united to repel the might of the Persian empire. But while this epic struggle forms the core of his work, Herodotus' natural curiosity frequently gives rise to colorful digressions - a description of the natural wonders of Egypt; an account of Eu One of the masterpieces of classical literature, the "Histories" describes how a small and quarrelsome band of Greek city states united to repel the might of the Persian empire. But while this epic struggle forms the core of his work, Herodotus' natural curiosity frequently gives rise to colorful digressions - a description of the natural wonders of Egypt; an account of European lake-dwellers; and far-fetched accounts of dog-headed men and gold-digging ants. With its kaleidoscopic blend of fact and legend, the "Histories" offers a compelling Greek view of the world of the fifth century BC.

30 review for The Histories

  1. 5 out of 5

    Grace Tjan

    What I learned from this book (in no particular order): 1. Ancient Greeks are quarrelsome and love to waste each other’s city-states for the pettiest reasons. 2. From all forms of government known to man, democracy is the best. Tyrants and oligarchs suck. 3. The Persian Empire is a mighty barbarian nation, but being cowardly, effeminate and slavish, it is eventually defeated by the quarrelsome but brave and civilized Greeks. 4. Among the Greeks, the Spartans are the bravest. Gerard Butler with a si What I learned from this book (in no particular order): 1. Ancient Greeks are quarrelsome and love to waste each other’s city-states for the pettiest reasons. 2. From all forms of government known to man, democracy is the best. Tyrants and oligarchs suck. 3. The Persian Empire is a mighty barbarian nation, but being cowardly, effeminate and slavish, it is eventually defeated by the quarrelsome but brave and civilized Greeks. 4. Among the Greeks, the Spartans are the bravest. Gerard Butler with a six-pack King Leonidas and his 300 Spartans heroically perished in the battle of Thermopylae. They also have the particularly icky custom of marrying their own nieces. 5. The Delphic oracles are 100% accurate, except when someone manages to corrupt the Pythoness. The Gods are, however, a jealous sort and would strike any mortal who has the presumption of calling himself happiest on earth. Therefore, one should call no man happy until he is dead. 6. Egypt is a country of wonders, but its citizens’ customs and manners are exactly the reverse of the common practice of mankind elsewhere. For example, the women there urinate standing up, while the men sitting down. The country also abounds in strange fauna, among them the hippopotamus --- a quadruped, cloven-footed animal, with the mane and tail of a horse, huge tusks and a voice like a horse’s neigh. 7. The Scythians are a warlike nation that practices human sacrifice. The Scythian soldier drinks the blood of the first man that he kills in battle and cuts off all of his enemies’ heads, which he must show to the king to get his share of the war booty. They also like to saw off their enemies’ skulls, which they make into fancy gold-plated drinking cups. 8. The manners of the Androphagi, being cannibals, are more savage than those of any other race. Darius the Persian smote them. 9. The Atarantians, alone of all known nations, are destitute of names. The title of Atarantians is borne by the whole race in common, but the men have no particular names of their own. They also like to curse the sun because he burns and wastes both their country and themselves. 10. In the Indian desert live ants that are larger than a fox. They like to throw up sand-heaps as they burrow, which are full of gold. This is why India is so rich in gold. In Arabia, there are sheep that have long tails, so long that the shepherds have to make little trucks for their tails. Really. BUT SERIOUSLY, Herodotus is a consummate storyteller who had a fine eye for the fantastical, although to his credit, he always qualified his more improbable assertions by stating that they are based on hearsay or other sources that he could not wholly verify. Much of the pleasure of reading his book is found in the lush descriptions of long lost nations and their exotic customs. His 'Histories' does not concern itself solely with history in the modern sense, but it is also a book of travelogue, ethnography, zoology, geography and botany. He is an excellent raconteur, almost always entertaining, except when he drones about speculative geography. We can easily imagine him, a man of seemingly inexhaustible curiosity, interviewing Marathon veterans for firsthand battle accounts, or interrogating Egyptian temple priests about their country’s history and religion. History for him is not a dry recitation of facts and dates, but an intensely human story acted by a vast cast of monarchs, queens, warriors, tyrants, gods and ordinary citizens. Regicides and rebellions are caused by personal passions, such as in the stories of Caudales and Gyges, and Xerxes and Masistes. Dreams compel Xerxes to invade Greece. Divine intervention decides the course of epic battles. A skein of tragedy runs through the historical drama that he narrates. The gods are so capricious and jealous that “one should not call a man happy until he is dead.” Xerxes, on beholding his massive force on the Hellespont, laments that “not one will be alive when a hundred years are gone by.” Yet while man lives his short existence he is capable of epic deeds, and Herodotus chronicled them all.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jan-Maat

    What do Herodotus and Tristram Shandy have in common? Progress through digression. I suppose my first acquaintance with the work of Herodotus was through that technicolor cold war drama The 300 Spartans in which a rampantly heterosexual force of Spartans defends freedom, liberty, and all that good stuff from allegedly ferocious yet ineffective, hordes of freedom hating Persians. The appalling, appealing, simplicity of that film is a grave disservice to the genius of Herodotus – already mauled by What do Herodotus and Tristram Shandy have in common? Progress through digression. I suppose my first acquaintance with the work of Herodotus was through that technicolor cold war drama The 300 Spartans in which a rampantly heterosexual force of Spartans defends freedom, liberty, and all that good stuff from allegedly ferocious yet ineffective, hordes of freedom hating Persians. The appalling, appealing, simplicity of that film is a grave disservice to the genius of Herodotus – already mauled by Thucydides barely after completing – if complete it is – his surviving work. Later I was shocked into actually reading the first half of an old Everyman edition of Herodotus by a National Geographic article but it was only now at an advanced age - older quite possibly than many of the protagonists described in the Histories - that I have finally read through the complete Herodotus. The conflicts between the Persians and the Greeks, culminating in the battles of Marathon, Salamis and Plataea, form a framework in which Herodotus digresses his way round the Greek world: physically (view spoiler)[the only disappointments are getting to see India (summed by by gold digging ants and a contingent of soldiers in Xerxes' army) or Europe - represented by a story of the silent trade between Carthage and (I presume) some people in Spain, silent because it was carried out by the Carthaginians laying out some trade goods, retreating out of sight, then the Iberians coming forward and laying out some metal, this process continuing until both sides are happy and take what the other has offered, similar stories of this style of trade can be found in other parts of the world too (hide spoiler)] , intellectually, culturally, but the eventual war is less the story of the clash of civilisations than the clash of relative inequality of development. Because one of the things that has struck me reading the whole thing in a linear fashion is not so much the framing narrative structure but the repetition of themes and narrative parallels: the wise advisor to the ruler, that a hard land makes for a hard people, that change follows on from transgression. One of the early starting points in Herodotus' narrative is the rise of Persia under Cyrus. Then, in the beginning, the Persians are poor. They inhabit a harsh land. By the end of the story the Persians possess a mighty empire, they are rich and rule over wealthy peoples but they make war against the Greeks. They have forgotten Cyrus' warning, which Herodotus kindly reminds us of: "Soft countries...breed soft men. It is not the property of any one soil to produce fine fruits and good soldiers too" (p543). For narrative purposes the Greeks in the time of story - already several generations before Herodotus was composing his work - were poor. In their Olympic Games they compete for Olive Branches and honour, rather than gold, silver or bronze like sensible people (view spoiler)[here we can see how Herodotus is colouring his material, many of the competitors would have been wealthy enough as it was and for the winners it seems there were opportunities for material reward even if they were not formally awarded at the podium so to speak, but the image of competing for olive branches is pressed into service with good effect to create the sense of a complete inequality of wealth even though the Greek cities were plainly not in the same category as say the Scythians (hide spoiler)] , simply because they have nothing better, the contrast between a rich Persian meal and a Spartan one (view spoiler)[see how we've preserved the idea in our own language (hide spoiler)] is an occasion for laughter. There's a criticism of Imperialism in this - what is the point of waging war against people who sleep in tents, wear leather, live in a country so unfruitful that they can eat all they can find but can never eat their fill? The repeated lesson, never learnt, taught through repeated harsh blows (view spoiler)[so much for the educative utility of the application of violence (hide spoiler)] is that transgression through aggression that is not sanctioned by God, gods, Fate, or Mandate of Heaven, as expressed variously through the opaque words of Oracles, and (view spoiler)[although I would say that given how deep my thinking still lies within the shadow of Braudel (hide spoiler)] really this is about expansion beyond your ecological base, ends in grim failure perhaps in the form of having your decapitated head dipped into a bag of blood - such was Cyrus' fate at the hands of Queen Tomyris - ah, another theme here - call no man happy until his death! By the time Herodotus's work was completed it is the Greeks who in turn are wealthy and powerful, on the verge of fighting the Peloponnesian war (during which, so much for the eternal clash of civilisations, the Spartans will turn to the Persians for aid in defeating the Athenians, but in Herodotian style, I digress, with purpose). We can read this, whether Herodotus intended this is another question, with irony. Success will lead to wealth, an inevitable softening, and pride leads on to a fall (view spoiler)[I can imagine that Herodotus was an inspiration to Ibn Khaldun and his book The Muqaddimah (hide spoiler)] . Since History didn't exist before Herodotus (or Thucydides depending on your point of view) we can hardly say that history in Herodotus is cyclical rather than linear, instead the philosophy that unfolds is that the nature of existence itself is cyclical. Wisdom is the result of hardship, learnt by riding Fate's wheel in a complete cycle. Alienated in self imposed exile Solon is the wise advisor to Croesus. After defeat in the war which he brought about, Croesus can be a wise advisor to Cyrus. In exile the Spartan King Demaratus is a wise advisor to Xerxes. To judge Herodotus as a writer of history is a little unfair, this is a transitional work. Part of his approach comes from the epic - he is explicitly looking back to Homer and the Iliad, another part we would think of as folktale and fable which is about moral teachings, traditional wisdom, and tropes (view spoiler)[such as lost children, born to greatness, saved and brought up in secret safety - we get several of these alone in Herodotus in Cyrus himself and Cypselus of Corinth, it is interesting that these historical figures were by Herodutus' day already transformed into folk-tales (hide spoiler)] , another the travelogue - Rebecca West's Black Lamb and Grey Falcon is a direct descendent (view spoiler)[there is a similar framing narrative - the great clash between two civilisations and an exploration of one civilisation through travel through its landscape and history (hide spoiler)] . History, though, as a narrative of events with an analysis of causes is one of his gifts just as Egypt was the gift of the Nile, even if in part on account of Thucydides sharp response to Herodotus. It also manages to capture the transition that occurs when the past and historical memory slips over into fable. This is not only something we can see in the presentation of Cyrus and Cypselus but more pointedly in the examples of Delphi and Thebes. Already by Herodotus' time Delphi was painting over its prior Persian sympathies and we get some fantastical stories instead of how weapons left in the sanctuary divinely appeared around the temple or how a great loud voice was heard shouting from within all of which conflicts completely with the oracular statements that Herodotus records which instead are defeatist if not actually pro-Persian, the effect is a little like a book about occupied France showing that everybody - even Petain, was actually in the Resistance. The Thebians, despite their contingent dying to a man at Thermopylae, are recorded as pro-Persian - this is attributed to Herodotus making use of Athenian informants. I feel that there is fable and folklore also in the victory at Salamis - the Greeks win by playing a trick upon the Persians, Thermistocles is the Odysseus of the piece, wielding the one not entirely defeatist oracle, maintaining the allies in a threatened position, trying to exploit the potential for division amongst the Persian coalition, and finally mauling the enemy fleet, although the cycle must be completed for him too and eventually he ends up as a wise advisor at the Persian court. Still, I like how archaeology now confirms Herodotus' stories of steppe women wielding weapons, just as zoology confirms that the genitals of both sexes of camel face backwards (view spoiler)[ reasonably you may wonder how they manage copulate: a camel's penis can rotate 180 degrees (hide spoiler)] . Some historians even take things one stage further and prefer Herodotus' account of Athenian strategy developing in reaction to the Persian advance to the discovered inscription at Troezen which gives the retreat down the coast and the evacuation of Attica as previously agreed strategies. Unlike in the old film, Herodotus' Persians are gallant and honourable foes (if occasionally given to whipping the sea for it's misdeeds), but then we are in the epic tradition. The enemy has to be worthy of the hero. Herodotus is far more effective here than say Livy in his treatment of the war with Hannibal - there we have to read Punic virtues and attractiveness between the lines to understand the fact that Livy doesn't attempt to explain of Hannibal surviving and thriving in Italy for years on end. I wondered reading if Herodotus would make for a complete elementary education, Aesop meets Aeschylus with the wonders of Egypt thrown in. Admittedly you would have to deal with questions like "Mummy, Daddy, what does 'refused normal intercourse and lay with her in an unnatural way (view spoiler)[ p25, its an interesting story (hide spoiler)] ' mean?" so this would be no course of action for the fainted hearted - but one only for those prepared to bend the bow of the long-lived Ethiopians and to bring up their offspring to respect the Oracle at Delphi, admire wisdom, and be curious about the customs of other countries. If I may deviate from my current deviation and recover the thread of my narrative the other point that struck me reading the complete work rather than just the first half was how Murray's Early Greece was in good part a commentary and analysis of Herodotus, drawing its anecdotes about the Oracle at Delphi or Greek Colonies from this work. On the subject of the latter, pausing to mention the colonists who departing their homeland threw a lump of iron in the harbour swearing never to return until it floated or those told by the Oracle at Delphi to set up a colony in Libya even though they had no idea where Libya was or how to get there, I arrive at the Greek settlers at Miletus who married Carian women after having murdered all their menfolk. The colonists pass a law "forbidding them to sit at table with their husbands or to address them by name" (p60). Later there is a similar story about captured Athenian women whose children born of rape band together to the point that they are all considered dangerous by their captors who put them all to death, this inevitably leads to divine punishment and the need to ask advice of the Oracle at Delphi, but I digress, though before returning to my theme again the pattern of violence as self-destructive behaviour that brings down an entire community - the whole of the Persian wars in Herodotus' account is figured as the culmination of a series of violent abductions that can only ever end in disaster because the human passions can not be stilled until divine retribution forces the community polluted through its violence to offer up propitiation. This reminded me of Michael Wood's point about western Europe having adopted ancient Greece as a forebear - "the glory that was Greece" was not all fine statues and beautiful ruins, heritage isn't a clear cut matter, the baby comes with the bathwater. The great contrast here in my mind is with the Romans. They have the Sabine women, who despite the violent beginning represent reconciliation and the unity of different peoples. The Romans base an ideology of empire and themselves as an Imperial people on the basis of a myth of reconciliation, the Greeks an ideology of civic distinctiveness on a history of sectarianism enforced beyond the point of self-harm. Something clear from Herodotus' account is how divided the Greeks are, with many supporting the Persians and some opposed, not out of great principals but on account of local rivalries. Lets finish with the Spartans. Not as laconic, proto-all-American superheroes of the battlefield tanned and oiled fit to star in technicolor, but as examples of Herodotus' style. It is the Spartans and Athenians who breach the norms of international diplomacy by murdering the Persian Ambassadors - Herodotus is no whitewasher (though perhaps his early audiences admired their ancestors precisely for that violation). Best of all is his fascinated treatment of the Spartan King Cleomenes, at once decisive and brilliant, but transgressing acceptable behaviour - for instance having holed up some enemies in a sacred wood he tricks some of them out claiming they have been ransomed and has them slaughtered (pp349-50). The Spartans put him on trial for failing to capture Argos, in his defence he argues that having offered sacrifice at the temple of Hera he saw flame flash from the breast but not the head of the statue he knew from this with absolute certainty that he was not to capture Argos...The Spartans accepted this as a credible and reasonable defence, and Cleomenes was fully acquitted (p350). The outcome of all this is that Cleomenes goes mad, and with a knife, cuts himself into strips while in the stocks. Again: transgression, pollution, and call no man happy until he is dead. "My business is to record what people say, but I am by no means bound to believe it - and that may be taken to apply to this book as a whole" (p421)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Riku Sayuj

    Hubris in History: A Recurring Terror “The conversion of legend-writing into the science of history was not native to the Greek mind, it was a fifth-century invention, and Herodotus was the man who invented it.” ~ R.G. Collingwood The prime subject of The Histories is the twenty years (499-479 B.C.E) of war between Greece and Persia for domination of the Greek world, but he intersperses this main narrative with plenty of personal interest stories, “wonders” about firsts and bests, historical p Hubris in History: A Recurring Terror “The conversion of legend-writing into the science of history was not native to the Greek mind, it was a fifth-century invention, and Herodotus was the man who invented it.” ~ R.G. Collingwood The prime subject of The Histories is the twenty years (499-479 B.C.E) of war between Greece and Persia for domination of the Greek world, but he intersperses this main narrative with plenty of personal interest stories, “wonders” about firsts and bests, historical parallels and occasionally his own biased judgements, but always making it clear that he is interested only in presenting a viewpoint — he leaves the act of judgement to the reader. It would be true to assure that it was Herodotus who helped create the concept of the discipline of “history,” in part by stressing and criticizing his sources and accepted traditions. My job is to record what I have been told, make of it what you will that is the dominant warning note wherever H’s authorial voice intervenes in the narrative. That should be the disclaimer all history books should come with. All the main themes of the book are evident in its beginning and ending, in keeping with the circular narratives that H prefers to adopt. All the intervening incidents act like reinforcements of the overall thrust inherent in the beginning and ending. The Beginning: The Parallel Rise of Freedom & Empire We begin with an insecure Hellenic world, just shaking off the shackles of tyranny and tasting real ambition for the first time. Meanwhile in the other end of the world, an existing empire is being shaped into a fearsome tyrannical force by the new Persian rulers. Soon the Persian empire starts to extend ominously outwards and gobbles up most of the known world. This infringes on a core idea of H — the concept of natural limits and over-extension. Persia is meant to fall. “The Small shall become the Big; and the Big shall become the Small.” As long as empires are driven by ambition, history is doomed to repeat itself. The gods set limits and do not allow human beings to go beyond them; Herodotus makes it clear that the Persians have to fail in their plan to conquer Greece, because they have overreached their natural boundaries. Xerxes announces his campaign by telling his advisers that he intends to conquer Greece so that ‘we will make Persian territory end only at the sky’ (7.8). The Middle: The Clash of Civilizations Then we are taken through the many over-extensions of the Persian empire under a succession of rulers (in Ionia, Scythia, etc), until they are poised to encroach upon the newly non-tyrannical Greek world. Here we enter the climactic middle of the narrative and is drenched in the details of the gory encounter. Many heroes, legends and dramatic material is born here and we emerge on the other side with a clear sense that it was Athens, without the yoke of tyranny, that was able to bring down the fearsome war machine of the Persian empire. David has won out against Goliath. This is achieved due to much luck and much pluck, but in the final analysis H seems to imply that the fault was with the hubris of the Persians. It needs to be pointed out that: H is quite clear that as human beings Persians are on the whole no better and no worse than Greeks. Structurally, however, Xerxes’ great expedition to Greece stands as a monument to the dangerous blindness of massive empires and grandiose thinking—but it is also the backdrop against which H has been able to present to us the Greeks’ love of their homeland, their valor against incredible odds, and their deep desire to preserve their freedom. So, even as this main narrative concludes, we are shown what is the inevitable result of Hubris that over-extends its own reaches. And of how tyranny in any form is not going to triumph over people who have tasted what freedom means. The Ending: A Reenactment of The Beginning Herodotus could have ended there. But he doesn’t. Instead he takes us to the Ending to rub in the message and to instill that message with its true significance — what is its bearing on the future? For, an investigation of History is meaningless unless it can educate us about the future. And it is the future that H ironically points to as he takes us through the concluding sections of his Histories. For now it is the turn of the Greeks to over-extend. In the thrill of victory and in the thrall of a thirst for revenge, in the spirit of competition with its own neighbors, Athens and Sparta launch out on its own imperialistic enterprise to mainland Asia. This is to culminate in H’s own day with the Ionians looking upon Athens as the equivalent of a Tyrant. The beginning of this period saw the triumph of the Greek mainland states over the might of the Persian Empire, first in the initial invasion of 490 and the battle of Marathon, and then in the second invasion of 480/79, with the battles of Thermopylae, Salamis, Plataea, and finally Mycaleb in Asia Mnor. This unexpected victory against what seemed like the mightiest empire on Earth resonated in Greek consciousness through the fifth century and indeed beyond. The Greeks in general, and the Athenians in particular, because they had played the major part in the triumph of “Freedom”, saw these victories as a triumph of right over might, courage over fear, freedom over servitude, moderation over arrogance. It helped crystallize and reinforce Greeks’ attitudes to their own newfound way of life and values, intensified their supreme distrust of monarchy and tyranny, and shaped their attitude to the Persians. And after what they visualized as the great struggle for freedom, the people of Athens entered upon a spectacular era of energy and prosperity, one of the great flowering periods of Western civilization. In more practical terms, Athens’ naval success in the Persian Wars and its enterprise immediately after led to the creation of the Athenian Empire, which started as an anti-Persian league and lasted for almost three-quarters of a century (479-404). H seems to imply that Athens should learn from these investigations of the past, see what Tyranny can do, see the dangers of over-extension, understand the need for balance, respect certain international boundaries, and stay its own overreaching hand. And indeed within fifty years of the Persian defeat the dream had faded, and before the end of the century Athens, over-extended abroad and overconfident at home, lay defeated at the mercy of her enemies, a Spartan garrison posted on the Acropolis and democracy in ruins. Much in the intervening years had been magnificent, it is true, but so it might have remained if the Athenians had heeded Herodotus. He had portrayed the Greek victory as a triumph over the barbarian latent in themselves, the hubris that united the invader and the native tyrant as targets of the gods. The Persian downfall, or at least the defeat of their imperialistic ambition, called not only for exultation but for compassion and lasting self-control. As should be quite obvious, there is much to learn in this for modern times too, but with an added twist. For Hubris did not end its romp through history there. It took on new wings once history started being recorded. Now every new emperor was also competing with history. Alexander had to outdo Xerxes. Caesar had to outdo Alexander. Britain had to outdo Rome. Germany had to outdo Britain. USA had to outdo Britain, etc. A never-ending arms-race with imperial history and the accompanying Hubris that powers it. So Herodotus, even as he recorded History so as to blunt its devastating force on the lives of men, also unwittingly added new impetus to its influence, by adding the new flavor of recorded glory to the existing receptacle of legendary glory. Hubris drank it up.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Ἰστορίαι = The Histories, Herodotus The Histories (Greek: Ἱστορίαι; also known as The History) of Herodotus is now considered the founding work of history in Western literature. Written in 440 BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek, The Histories serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that were known in Western Asia, Northern Africa and Greece at that time. Although not a fully impartial record, it remains one of the West's most impo Ἰστορίαι = The Histories, Herodotus The Histories (Greek: Ἱστορίαι; also known as The History) of Herodotus is now considered the founding work of history in Western literature. Written in 440 BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek, The Histories serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that were known in Western Asia, Northern Africa and Greece at that time. Although not a fully impartial record, it remains one of the West's most important sources regarding these affairs. Moreover, it established the genre and study of history in the Western world. The Histories also stands as one of the first accounts of the rise of the Persian Empire, as well as the events and causes of the Greco-Persian Wars between the Achaemenid Empire and the Greek city-states in the 5th century BC. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: هشتم ماه آگوست سال 1972 میلادی عنوان: تاریخ هرودوت؛ نویسنده: هرودوت؛ ترجمه به انگلیسی: جرج راولین سن؛ تنظیم: ا.ج. اوانس؛ مترجم: غلامعلی وحید مازندرانی؛ تهران، علمی، 1324، در 24 و 211 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، بنگاه ترجمه و نشر، 1360، در هشت و 300 ص؛ موضوع: تاریخ هخامنشیان - جنگهای ایران و یونان - از قرن ششم پیش از میلاد تا قرن چهارم پیش از میلادی عنوان: تواریخ؛ نویسنده: هرودوت؛ مترجم: غلامعلی وحید مازندرانی؛ تهران، دنیای کتاب؛ 1368؛ در 573 و 4 ص، مصور؛ شابک: 9643461637؛ چاپ دوم 1368؛ چاپ سوم 1386؛ چاپ دیگر: مشهد، خاتم، 1391؛ 612 ص؛ شابک: 9786006153278؛ عنوان: تاریخ هرودوت؛ نویسنده: هرودوت؛ مترجم: مرتضی ثاقب فر؛تهران، اساطیر، 1389، در دو جلد؛ شابک جلد 1: 9789643314699؛ شابک جلد 2: 9789643314705؛ شرق شناس پرآوازه، و کاشف خط میخی «هنری راولینسون»، در دوران پادشاهی «محمدشاه قاجار»، مربی نظامی در فوج کرمانشاه بودند، ایشان ضمن خدمت، به کاوش و پژوهش برای کشف رموز خط میخی نیز همت گماشتند، و سرانجام موفق شدند. پس از کشف خوانش خط میخی، برادر ایشان «جرج راولینسون»، از آن اکتشاف مهم تاریخی بهره گرفتند، و نخستین ترجمه کامل از تاریخ هرودوت به زبان انگلیسی را، با حواشی و توضیح در چهار مجلد در سال 1858 میلادی منتشر کردند، در سال 1910 میلادی نسخه جدیدی از ترجمه مزبور در دو جلد منتشر شد، در این نسخه بیشتر متن را حفظ، اما حواشی و یادداشتها و مقدمه را خلاصه کرده بودند، در آغاز جنگ جهانگیر دوم نسخه یک جلدی از ترجمه «راولینسون» توسط «ا.ج. اوانس» دوباره تلخیص و تنظیم شد، این کتاب برگردان جناب «غ. وحید مازندرانی» از همان نسخه یک جلدی به زبان انگلیسی میباشد، که نخستین چاپ آن در سال 1324 خورشیدی توسط انتشارات علمی در دسترس پژوهشگران قرار گرفته است. این فراموشکار نخستین بار متن انگلیسی کتاب را خوانده و سپس بارها آن را خوانده ام و هربار که فرصتی دست دهد و حوصله ام برای تاریخ تنگ شود باز هم قسمتی از متن انگلیسی را میخوانم، کاغذ آن نسخه کتاب جیبی این فراموشکار کاهی ست، و صفحاتش زرد شده است و چشمانم حروف انگلیسی ریز را خوب تشخیص نمیدهد ولی میخوانم، این نوشته ی هرودوت شاهکاری ست که هماره خواهد ماند تا به آیندگان یاد دهد تاریخ را چگونه بنویسند. ا. شربیانی

  5. 4 out of 5

    umberto

    I think I would like to invite my Goodreads friends to browse any Book you like, then take heart to start with Book I as the inception of the whole inquiry unthinkable to those Greek scholars at that time, but Herodotus could make it and you cannot help admiring him when you read his famous preamble: Herodotus of Halicarnassus here displays his inquiry, so that human achievements may not become forgotten in time, and great and marvellous deeds -- some displayed by Greeks, some by barbarians -- m I think I would like to invite my Goodreads friends to browse any Book you like, then take heart to start with Book I as the inception of the whole inquiry unthinkable to those Greek scholars at that time, but Herodotus could make it and you cannot help admiring him when you read his famous preamble: Herodotus of Halicarnassus here displays his inquiry, so that human achievements may not become forgotten in time, and great and marvellous deeds -- some displayed by Greeks, some by barbarians -- may not be without their glory; and especially to show why the two people fought each other. (p. 4) This preamble, I think, in the 1970 edition may entice you as well: HERODOTUS of Halicarnassus, his Researches are here set down to preserve the memory of the past by putting on record the astonishing achievements both of our own and of other peoples; and more particularly, to show how they came into conflict. (p. 41) Moreover, the one in this 1988 edition published by the University of Chicago Press is also interesting: I, Herodotus of Harlicarnassus, am here setting forth my history, that time may not draw the color from what man has brought into being, nor those great and wonderful deeds, manifested by both Greeks and barbarians, fail of their report, and, together with all this, the reason why they fought one another. (p. 33) First of all, don't be intimidated by its length, that is, 543 pages in the 1996 Penguin edition, please find any translation you're familiar with its style or wording then keep reading a few pages once in a while, don't hope to finish it in a few days/weeks since it's one of the masterpieces in ancient history, you need time to think, take notes and ask yourself why. Secondly, this is definitely his magnum opus for posterity of all nations to read, reflect and interpret in terms of reciprocal toleration as fellow human beings so that we learn not to make unthinkable mistakes again. In many engagements there, you can witness various unimaginably ruthless deeds instigated by the powers that be, fate and godlike valour of those true Greek and Persian soldiers. Those fallen heroes including all innumerable soldiers killed in various battles deserve our respect with awe, admiration and gratitude as our exemplary models of humankind. And finally, scholars should honour and keep him in mind since Cicero called him 'the father of history' and we can enjoy reading his second to none narrative. However, some chapters might not be interesting when he sometime told us about the flora/fauna seemingly unrelated to the looming hostilities. I take them as relaxing moments and we can learn from what he told us frankly and good-humoredly. Those ruthless war scenes, for instance from Chapter 20 onwards in Book IX, are amazingly described to the extent that we can visualize such ruthless gory scenes with increasingly stupefying horror in which it is hopelessly put into words. That's it and I think I would reread the University of Chicago version for solace and advice in there whenever I'm free from work. It'd teach us of course to mind our own business, be kind, have mercy towards our fellow colleagues, friends, cousins, etc. since we all have limited time to live on earth. Note: In fact, I have another Penguin copy with its front cover showing a painted vase depicting two soldiers in action (Persian vs. Greek), not this one so the page numbers as mentioned above may vary. Therefore, I've reposted my review since I don't know how to return to its previous book cover.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    The kids bought me this for Christmas and it is a thing of infinite beauty. I’ve been meaning to read these histories for years and never quite got around to it. I had never realised quite how remarkable this book would be. This version of the book is the third that I now own – I’ve also got a copy of the Penguin Classics and I’ve just finished listening to this as a talking book. But I am going to make my way through this book eventually, as it is hard to focus on many of the details of the wars The kids bought me this for Christmas and it is a thing of infinite beauty. I’ve been meaning to read these histories for years and never quite got around to it. I had never realised quite how remarkable this book would be. This version of the book is the third that I now own – I’ve also got a copy of the Penguin Classics and I’ve just finished listening to this as a talking book. But I am going to make my way through this book eventually, as it is hard to focus on many of the details of the wars and so on without a decent map in front of you to refer to – and this book has lots of maps and drawings and other illustrations, although, annoyingly, no illustration of the Egyptian labyrinth which Herodotus said was even more remarkable than the pyramids. Along the way Herodotus tells some incredible stories. Some of them sound like they are straight out of the 1001 nights. Others make your jaw drop open. There are also discussions of things like what is the source of the Nile, that really have whetted my curiosity to read more about the 19th century types who finally discovered the source. Now, why was this such a big question in the ancient world? Well, the problem was that the Nile seemed to come out of the desert and that isn’t exactly the sort of place where you would expect to find lots and lots of water. The winds that came for where the Nile seemed to flow out from were also always hot – and so the idea that perhaps the water in the Nile swelled once a year due to the melting of snow (although partly reasonable, obviously) didn’t seem to make a lot of sense when you thought that the river was coming out of a desert (deserts being the natural enemy of snow). It really is fascinating listening to Herodotus discussing these speculations about the source of the Nile and the paradoxes such speculations provided. In the immortal words of Bob Dylan, “There ain’t no limit to the amount of trouble women bring”. There are interesting asides about the Trojan war and how Herodotus speculates that Helen was probably dead by the time of the war started and so when the Greeks asked for the Trojans to hand her over they literally couldn’t. He can’t see why else they would have allowed their civilisation to be crushed for the sake of one woman, beautiful or not. There is a woman who commanded a ship on the side of the Persians, there are women who come back as ghosts and complain about being cold (which their husband should know as the last time he tried to bake his bread the oven was cold – this would have taken me a while to understand if Herodotus did not explain that the husband had lain with her after she had died.) But this is not really a history that involves many women – this is a story about blokes doing what blokes like most – killing other blokes. All the same, my favourite bit of this came quite early in the piece. The story of the theft of Rhampsinitos’ treasure. I’m going to give you the short McCandless version of this as it really is a wonderful story and I can’t leave this review without talking about it. When Rhampsinitos (an Egyptian king) decided to have a place built for his treasure he didn’t know that the builder would put a stone into the works that could be easily removed. The builder told his sons about this stone as he lay dying and once the builder had died his sons nipped around to the king’s treasury and helped themselves to the riches inside. The king noticed this sudden loss of wealth and set a trap to capture those who were all too frequently popping in and stealing his goodies. The trap was quite successful and one of the brothers ended up getting caught. He told his other brother to cut off his head so that they wouldn’t both be discovered. This his all too obliging brother did. The king then had a body without a head in his treasury, but still had no idea how anyone could get into the treasury room without breaking any of the seals on the locks. So, he had the body of the thief hung up and guarded so that whoever cried in front of it would be brought before him. The thief who had cut off his brother’s head was then told by his mother that he had better do something to rescue his brother’s body or else all hell would break lose. He came up with a plan to get the guards drunk and to steal the body, which he did and also shaved half of their beards off to make sure they quite understood how stupid they had been made to look. The king was, needless to say, bloody furious. (I did mention this reminded me of the 1001 nights, yeah?) Anyway, the king then decides to get his daughter to work in a brothel, but before she sleeps with anyone she is to ask them what is the worst thing they have ever done and if any of them say anything like they cut off their brother’s head and stole his body from the king’s guards, she is to grab hold of him and call for the police (or whatever the Egyptian equivalent was at the time). The thief decides to play along, and goes to the brothel with the severed arm of a freshly dead corpse under his jumper. When he tells the king’s daughter about his exploits she makes a grab for him and he holds out the dead man’s arm, which she holds onto while the thief cleverly makes his escape. The king is so impressed with this man’s exploits that he begs him to come forward and receive a reward, which he does and ends up getting to marry the king’s daughter – I assume the daughter he gets to marry is the prostitute mentioned earlier, but I guess no one actually ever called her that to her face. The best bit of this is that it shows something Herodotus does the whole way through these histories. He will be telling one of these stories and suddenly they will start to become completely unbelievable and he will say, “of course, I don’t believe this stuff for a minute, but this is the story I was told in Egypt and what would you have me do? I have to tell you what I was told.” The other story that held me enthralled was of the self-mutilation of Zopyros – honestly, this is utterly remarkable. It is worth reading the book just for this story alone. There are lots of occasions where fathers are forced to do horrible things to their sons – my favourite is the story of a king who punishes one of his advisors by feeding him his son as the meat portion of a feast. The king then leaves this advisor in a position where he can revenge himself on the king. You know, if I was to feed someone their own child I would probably kill him straight away afterwards – call me overly cautious, but I’ve a sneaking suspicion that the person who has feed you the flesh of one of your kids is never going to be one of you best friends ever again, no matter what else they do for you. This book is fantastic and the Landmark edition is like its name implies, really something special.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    It wasn't just Vollmann's fourth reference to Herodotus in a span of 20 pages in Rising Up and Rising Down, it was the reality and shame that I'm in my 40s and the most I know about the war between Persia and the Hellenic city states is what I learned from the movie 300. Thus, The Histories. First: I can't imagine what it would have been like reading these nine books by Herodotus in any format other than this simply amazingly researched and presented volume. The Landmark has to be the final word It wasn't just Vollmann's fourth reference to Herodotus in a span of 20 pages in Rising Up and Rising Down, it was the reality and shame that I'm in my 40s and the most I know about the war between Persia and the Hellenic city states is what I learned from the movie 300. Thus, The Histories. First: I can't imagine what it would have been like reading these nine books by Herodotus in any format other than this simply amazingly researched and presented volume. The Landmark has to be the final word on Herodotus: the maps, the footnotes, the appendices, indices, forwards and notes - it is an astounding collection created for the layperson like me to approach a subject that is seemingly dry and yawn-worthy. But The Histories is anything but boring. At times, even page-turning, jaw-dropping awesome. When you say to your partner, "Honey, listen to this -" and then quote Herodotus, you know something amazing has happened. Herodotus does more than just recount tales of war, he goes to great lengths to describe the culture and the history of dozens of the denizens in his world. An astounding undertaking in any age - made even more incredible given that this was written 600+ BCE. His even-handed histories and details of Persia, a nation looking to conquer and subjugate his own, is an astounding feat of scholarship and academia - even before those words had meaning. I was so impressed with The Landmark that I purchased their publications on Thucydides and Xenophon. By the time I've finished both of those, I'll be able to play horseshit bingo the next time I watch 300.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Huda Aweys

    لم تكن تلك فكرتي عن (تاريخ هيرودوت) قبل قراءتي له ، كنت أطنه أكثر علمية من ذاك لكثرة ماتم الإستشهاد به و الرجوع إليه أكاديميا *** حكايات لطيفة و مشوقة على أي حال :) ، و من أكثر حكاياته التي لفتت ناظري حكاية قمبيز مع ملك إثيوبيا ...، و (الأمازونيات) كنموذج من النماذج الأنثوية الفريدة في التاريخ القديم

  9. 5 out of 5

    peiman-mir5 rezakhani

    دوستانِ گرانقدر، با آنکه زنده یاد «هرودوت» این مورخ نامی، در برخی از اخباری که ارائه نموده، در مورد ایران خصمانه برخورد کرده و در جاهایی نیز نوشته هایش بسیار با واقعیت فاصله دارد، امّا در هر حال میتوان گفت که یکی از کتبِ تاریخی مرجع میباشد که برخی از اخبار و رویدادهایی که نوشته، تنها در همین کتاب یافت میشود... این مورخ نامی زحمات بسیار زیادی برای بر جای ماندن تاریخ برای انسانهای امروزی کشیده است و مشکل فقط و فقط همان تحریف هایی است که بعضاً به دلیل دشمنی دیرینه با ایرانیان، وارد اخبارش کرده است. دوستانِ گرانقدر، با آنکه زنده یاد «هرودوت» این مورخ نامی، در برخی از اخباری که ارائه نموده، در مورد ایران خصمانه برخورد کرده و در جاهایی نیز نوشته هایش بسیار با واقعیت فاصله دارد، امّا در هر حال میتوان گفت که یکی از کتبِ تاریخی مرجع میباشد که برخی از اخبار و رویدادهایی که نوشته، تنها در همین کتاب یافت میشود... این مورخ نامی زحمات بسیار زیادی برای بر جای ماندن تاریخ برای انسانهای امروزی کشیده است و مشکل فقط و فقط همان تحریف هایی است که بعضاً به دلیل دشمنی دیرینه با ایرانیان، وارد اخبارش کرده است... البته اخباری را که تحریف شده است را اگر بر تاریخ ایران تسلط داشته باشید، به خوبی متوجه میشوید.. به گونه ای که در هرکجا که ایرانیان یا فلان پادشاه ایرانی را کوچک انگاشته، بدانید که کینه و بداندیشی از سوی «هرودوت»، در پشتِ آن رویداد و خبر، نهفته است درکل، به عنوان مکمل میتواند کتاب مناسبی جهت فهم تاریخ سرزمینمان و همچنین تاریخ یونانیان و رومیان باشد ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- در بند 141 از تاریخ «هرودوت» اخباری از «کوروش بزرگ» نوشته شده که بدون تردید از خواندن آن لذت میبرید و به شعور و خرد نیاکانمان افتخار میکنید در بند 141 نوشته: یونانیانِ این سرزمین (منظور آسیای صغیر بوده است) که مغلوبِ «کوروش» شده بودند، سفیری نزد او فرستادند و تقاضا کردند که با آنها به همان نحو رفتار کند که با پادشاه مغلوبِ لیدیه (کرزوس) رفتار کرده بود. یعنی در امور داخلی آنها دخالت نکند و همان امتیازها را برایشان بشناسد. «کوروش» جواب مستقیمی به آنها نداد، ولی این مثال را برایشان آورد: نی زنی به کنار دریا رفت و دید ماهی هایِ خوشرنگ در آب شنا میکنند. پیش خود گفت: اگر نی بزنم یقیناً اینها به خشکی خواهند آمد. ولی چندان که نی زد، اثری از ماهیها نیافت... پس توری برداشت و به دریا افکند و عده ای از ماهیها در آن افتادند... وقتیکه ماهیها در تور میجستند و می افتادند، نی زن گفت: حالا بیهوده می رقصید، میبایست آنوقت که نی میزدم میرقصیدید.(رقصیده باشید)...پایان یاد «کوروش»، آن ایرانی بزرگ و خردمند، تا همیشه زنده و پاینده باد «پیروز باشید و ایرانی»

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mikos

    Wow…. where to start, where to start. Reading the Histories by Herodotus (the Father of History) feels like taking a trip back in time to a world full with wonder and mystery. Central in the story is the great clash between the Greek city states and the mighty Persian Empire, but calling it that is kind of an insult when you consider the massive amount of information, gossip and hearsay that is in the book, there is so much more in this story. Herodotus gives an epic account of the entire (known Wow…. where to start, where to start. Reading the Histories by Herodotus (the Father of History) feels like taking a trip back in time to a world full with wonder and mystery. Central in the story is the great clash between the Greek city states and the mighty Persian Empire, but calling it that is kind of an insult when you consider the massive amount of information, gossip and hearsay that is in the book, there is so much more in this story. Herodotus gives an epic account of the entire (known) ancient world and paints a beautiful picture. A massive undertaking considering when it was written. Herodotus gives insight in what has taken place before the monumental clash, the cause of the clash and all that happened before to all nations involved, and he takes this very literally. Starting with the ascension of the king of Lydia and the rise of the Persian Empire (from Cyrus the Great till Xerxes), Herodotus tells all. When describing the rise of the Persian Empire, Herodotus dives into so much more than just the military developments. Especially the first 4 ‘books’ are full with anecdotes and background information on nations, families, empires, customs, geography, anthropology, animals, eating habits, housing, sacrifices. In which Herodotus takes a very environmentally deterministic view. You really get the idea that he just wrote everything down that was known. The number of stories in this book is just baffling, there are probably more than a hundred stories within the main story. For me as a total freak regarding antiquity this is all pure gold. It reminded me off some of my teachers during my time in college, when you would ask a question and the teacher would always tell so much more then you’d asked, being passionate about his course and everything. This book is a lot like that, Herodotus has the tendency to digress to an astounding degree (and in opposite to my time at college, I AM interested). All the known people and nations get his attention, from the Egyptians, Persians, Libyans, Scythians, and Indians and all their tribes to the people closer to home like the Athenians, Spartans, Thebans, Boeotian’s and Ionians. The scope of his research is huge. Me being a huge geek for this stuff it’s great! looking up maps, looking for background information and more sources etc. :D. Because of this scope and writing style (which is very dense) the book can be a bit overwhelming with all the names of families, tribes, nations etc., I learned so much, yet I have the feeling I forgot even more. A ‘problem’ with this book is that the further you go (geographically) from Greece the more unreliable the information becomes. This sounds bad for a history book, but it was fantastic. As Herodotus states, he writes this stuff only so it can be recorded for later generations and doesn’t claim it’s the solemn truth. Because the information isn’t all that reliable it paints a beautiful worldview in which the most outrageous customs and beliefs blend with myths and facts. Some of these gems include: - The existence of big gold digging ants in India (dog/fox sized) - One-eyed people in the north with a griffon defending gold - A people named Neurians who left their country because of a snake invasion and who become wolves once every year In some instances though Herodotus tends to give motivations for actions and individuals or causality between events which he just can’t rectify. Together with the earlier mentioned gems it’s one of the reasons Herodotus’s other nickname is the Father of Lies. But he does tend to mention where information comes from and how reliable it is. Only when he talks about military campaigns a lot of his statements seem to be overdone and he comes across as a bit gullible (5 million Persians in the invasion?). Still a lot of his information has turned out to be correct, unfortunately though none of the gems :(. A big plus is that in a lot of instances he gives multiple accounts/theories of the same events, and he tends to give credit to the more ‘normal’ accounts. Even if these accounts are ridiculous with the knowledge we now have, I find it fascinating how he comes to his conclusions within the belief system of his time. Sometimes he even comes with his own theories like the hydrological cycle of the Danube (in which he’s essentially correct) or the origin of the Nile (in which he is not). Surprisingly, the last 5 books which focus more on the actual clash aren’t as engaging as the first 4. There is still some digressing in book 5 and 6, with a focus on events in the several Greek city states (damn, what a quarrelsome lot), but the focus is more on the military developments and the eventual clashes between Greece and Persia. Starting with the Ionian revolt leading to the first military clash with Persia at Marathon until the final expedition of Xerxes. While still very interesting it pales compared to the first books. Having said that, it’s still about Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis and Platea! Battles that have taken place 2500 years ago, but still speak to the imagination today. How a small group of city states defied the greatest empire of that age is still quite baffling to me. While Herodotus takes a more neutral tone in the first 4 books (so far that that is possible), his Greek heritage does shine a bit through when it concerns Persia (in military terms and to a lesser extend in lifestyle, apparently they were very feminine). But I can’t really blame him for that, it makes sense. Let’s be honest the accomplishment is quite huge and when you personally grow up during the actual clash it’s even more human than normal to glorify your own nation and ridicule your enemy. My advice to future readers would be, don’t consider this solely as a history book. Consider it as a Greek view of antiquity with all it’s prejudices and values thrown in the mix culminating in one great epic story. I absolutely loved it!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lazarus P Badpenny Esq

    "When the moment finally came to declare their purpose, the Babylonians, in order to reduce the consumption of food, herded together and strangled all the women in the city - each man exempting only his mother, and one other woman whom he chose out of his household to bake his bread for him." As the British Government bludgeons the nation with its ideologically-driven 'Austerity Budget', note that the ancients had a strategy or two for surviving straitened times themselves. And they managed to pr "When the moment finally came to declare their purpose, the Babylonians, in order to reduce the consumption of food, herded together and strangled all the women in the city - each man exempting only his mother, and one other woman whom he chose out of his household to bake his bread for him." As the British Government bludgeons the nation with its ideologically-driven 'Austerity Budget', note that the ancients had a strategy or two for surviving straitened times themselves. And they managed to protect 'front-line' services. Who doesn't like to wake up to the smell of freshly-baked rolls? Now, how does one get one's hands on Theresa May? "...As for Samos, the Persians took the entire population like fish in a drag-net, and presented Syloson with an empty island. Some years later, however, Otanes contracted some sort of disease of the genital organs and that, in conjunction with a dream he had, induced him to repopulate the place." Seriously. Wtf?! I mean, who hasn't dreamed of personally repopulating an island [I know I have:], but just how fertile does a guy have to be that an std leaves him debilitated to the degree that he can only re-seed an entire race like some Zeus on the loose? I thought all these dudes preferred boys so what's with that? If I didn't know Herodotus had such a downer on hearsay I'd swear someone was pulling his leg. "...for I have never heard of a man who after an unbroken run of luck was not finally brought to complete ruin. Now I suggest that you deal with the danger of your continual successes in the following way: think of whatever it is you value most - whatever you would most regret the loss of - and throw it away: throw it right away, so that nobody can ever see it again. If, after that, you do not find that success alternates with failure then go on using the remedy I have advised." Harsh. "...He was blind for ten years, after which he received an oracle from the city of Buto to the effect that the time of his punishment being now ended, he would recover his sight, if he washed his eyes with the urine of a woman who had never lain with any man except her husband. He tried his wife first, but without success - he remained as blind as ever." Jeez, there has to be an easier way to discover you're a cuckold.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    If you are an English speaker there is no reason for you to consider buying any other edition of this text. Brilliantly translated, filled with just the right amount of footnotes, maps and pictures, and there is an appendix for pretty much everything you could think of.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Cphe

    This was way outside of my comfort zone and I doubt if I'd have undertaken it if it hadn't been read as a group read. I went into it without any prior conceptions. I just thought it would be interesting, and it was. A long read and in parts a difficult read as I initially found it challenging to grasp the differing but similar sounding names. (it took some getting used to) However it was interesting, fascinating in parts learning of the cultures, mores, people who challenged and changed the world This was way outside of my comfort zone and I doubt if I'd have undertaken it if it hadn't been read as a group read. I went into it without any prior conceptions. I just thought it would be interesting, and it was. A long read and in parts a difficult read as I initially found it challenging to grasp the differing but similar sounding names. (it took some getting used to) However it was interesting, fascinating in parts learning of the cultures, mores, people who challenged and changed the world around them. Thought the attention given to detail quite staggering at times describing events, wars, armour, weaponry, customs and traditions. Difficult to comprehend that this was written over 2000 years ago.

  14. 4 out of 5

    John Conquest

    What I read: Histories by Herodotus What I expected: Thucydides + Persians What I got: Mountable battle dolphins The complete discography of Kid Rock Eyewitness testimony that Ethiopians produce pitch black semen (no homo) "Our flying snakes will block out the sun!" On all levels except physical I am a Mede *Whips the sea* "Herodotus can I borrow 100,000 Persians?" "1,000,000 Persians? What do you need 5,000,000 Persians for?" The Virgin Greek pederasty, the Chad Persian piss fetish

  15. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    “These are the researches of Herodotus of Halicarnassus, which he publishes, in the hope of preserving from decay the remembrance of what men have done, and of preventing the great and wonderful actions of the Greeks and the barbarians from losing their due meed of glory; and withal to put on record what were the grounds of feud.” Herodotus’s reference to his “researches” (sometimes translated “inquiries”) uses the Greek word historie, from which we get “history.” This is the first recorded use o “These are the researches of Herodotus of Halicarnassus, which he publishes, in the hope of preserving from decay the remembrance of what men have done, and of preventing the great and wonderful actions of the Greeks and the barbarians from losing their due meed of glory; and withal to put on record what were the grounds of feud.” Herodotus’s reference to his “researches” (sometimes translated “inquiries”) uses the Greek word historie, from which we get “history.” This is the first recorded use of the word.  The main subject of The Histories is the twenty years (499-479 B.C.E) of war between Greece and Persia. Herodotus begins by presenting the alleged origins of enmity between Greece and Persia in mythic times. He adds Persian and Phoenician accounts that he has heard to Greek ones. These stories have to do with the abduction of women. According to the Persians, the Phoenicians began the quarrel by carrying off the Greek woman Io and taking her to Egypt. The Greeks retaliated by abducting the woman Europa from the Phoenicians, and later they carried off Medea of Colchis, which motivated Paris to abduct Helen. Herodotus says that the Persians trace their enmity toward the Greeks back to the Trojan War. The Phoenicians, on the other hand, insist that Io left willingly.  After summarizing these stories, Herodotus says that he will not discuss further which account is correct, and changes the subject to historical causes more recent than the legendary past: “I prefer to rely on my own knowledge, and to point out who it was in actual fact that first injured the Greeks…” Herodotus traces the beginning of the conflict to when Croesus of Lydia conquered the Greek towns of Asia, but Books I - IV focus on other issues. Most of this part of the book is concerned with geographical accounts, stories of notable people, and ethnographies of the peoples ruled by the Persians. Some scientific issues also come up, such as the cause of the flooding of the Nile. Starting with Book V, in which the Persians suppress the rebellion of the local Greek population in Persian territory (the Ionian Revolt) the narrative becomes more tightly focused.   Herodotus is a moralist; he presents the story of the Persian Wars as a story of how the hubris of the Persian rulers leads to their defeat, and demonstrates how “the god with his lightning smites always the bigger animals, and will not suffer them to wax insolent… likewise his bolts fall ever on the highest houses and the tallest trees” (Bk VII). The website Livius.org has commentaries that I found really helpful when I was reading this.  http://www.livius.org/articles/person... The website also has an interesting essay, “The Significance of Marathon” on the historiography of the battle of Marathon, which occurs in Book VI. “It is often said that the battle of Marathon was one of the few really decisive battles in history. The truth, however, is that we cannot establish this with certainty. Still, the fight had important consequences: it gave rise to the idea that East and West were opposites, an idea that has survived until the present day, in spite of the fact that 'Marathon' has become the standard example to prove that historians can better refrain from such bold statements.” Some great reviews by other readers on GR: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... (this one’s pretty funny) some highlights: Bk I: The story of Croesus & Solon & Cyrus - The wealthy king of Lydia, Croesus, urges Solon, the Athenian lawgiver [magistrate] to admit that he is the happiest of men. (Croesus at this point as captured nearly all the Greek towns along the west coast of Asia.) Solon warns him that no one can be called happy until he ends his life well. “Call him, however, until he die, not happy but fortunate. Scarcely, indeed, can any man unite all these advantages: as there is no country which contains within it all that it needs, but each, while it possesses some things, lacks others, and the best country is that which contains the most; so no single human being is complete in every respect — something is always lacking. He who unites the greatest number of advantages, and retaining them to the day of his death, then dies peaceably, that man alone, sire, in my judgment, is entitled to bear the name of ‘happy.’ But in every matter it behooves us to mark well the end: for oftentimes God gives men a gleam of happiness, and then plunges them into ruin.”   Croesus dismisses Solon’s answer, “since he thought that a man must be an arrant fool who made no account of the present good, but bade men always wait and mark the end.” Croesus suffers for his arrogance when his son Atys is accidentally killed in a boar hunt. Croesus later attacks Cappadocia, part of the empire of Cyrus the Great (and part of modern Turkey). In the conflict that follows, Cyrus captures the city of Sardis. Croesus's other son is killed in the fighting, trying to protect his father, and Croesus is captured. Croesus tells Cyrus the story of Solon's warning to him years before, and how everything had turned out exactly as Solon had said, although it was nothing that especially concerned him, but applied to all mankind alike, and most to those who seemed to themselves happy... Then Cyrus, hearing what Croesus had said, relented, bethinking himself that he too was a man, and that he was a fellow man, and one who had once been as blessed by fortune as himself, that he was burning alive; afraid, moreover, of retribution, and full of the thought that whatever is human is insecure. So he bade them quench the blazing fire as quickly as they could, and take down Croesus and the other Lydians, which they tried to do, but the flames were not to be mastered.” Croesus prays to Apollo and a rainstorm extinguishes the flames. Cyrus, “convinced by this that Croesus was a good man and a favourite of heaven” asked him after he was taken off the pile, "'Who it was that had persuaded him to lead an army into his country, and so become his foe rather than continue his friend?' 'What I did, oh! king, was to thy advantage and to my own loss. If there be blame, it rests with the god of the Greeks, who encouraged me to begin the war. No one is so foolish as to prefer war to peace, in which, instead of sons burying their fathers, fathers bury their sons. But the gods willed it so.” Bk II: Herodotus’s story about Indian burial customs: “… if one were to offer men to choose out of all the customs in the world as seemed to them the best, they would examine the whole number, and end by preferring their own; so convinced are they that their own usages surpass those of all others. Unless, therefore, a man was mad, it is not likely that he would make sport of such matters. That people have this feeling about their own laws may be seen by many proofs; among others, the following. Darius, after he had got the kingdom, called into his presence certain Greeks who were at hand, and asked -- 'What he should pay them to eat the bodies of their fathers when they died?' To which they answered, that there was no sum that would tempt them to do such a thing. He then sent for certain Indians, of the race called Callatians, men who eat their fathers, and asked them, while the Greeks stood by, and knew by the help of an interpreter all that was said -- 'What he should give them to burn the bodies of their fathers at their decease?' The Indians exclaimed aloud, and bade him forbear such language.” Bk III: Sosicles of Corinth’s response to the Spartans, who at this point in the narrative plan to reinstate a tyrant in Athens. Sparta’s allies are skeptical of the plan, but only Sosicles the Corinthian argues against it: “Surely the heaven will soon be below, and the earth above, and men will henceforth live in the sea, and fish take their place upon the dry land, since you, Lacedaemonians [another name for the Spartans] propose to put down free governments in the cities of Greece, and set up tyrannies in their room. There is nothing in the whole world so unjust, so bloody, as a tyranny. If, however, it seems to you a desirable thing to have the cities under despotic rule, begin by putting a tyrant over yourselves, and then establish despots in other states… If you knew what tyranny was as well as ourselves, you would be better advised than you now are in regard to it.” Sosicles then tells of how Corinth was once ruled by an oligarchy, before it became democratic. Bk VII: The battle of Thermopylae  “And now there arose a fierce struggle between the Persians and the Lacedaemonians over the body of Leonidas, in which the Greeks four times drove back the enemy, and at last by their great bravery succeeded in bearing off the body. This combat was scarcely ended when the Persians with Ephialtes approached; and the Greeks, informed that they drew nigh, made a change in the manner of their fighting. Drawing back into the narrowest part of the pass, and retreating even behind the cross wall, they posted themselves upon a hillock, where they stood all drawn up together in one close body, except only the Thebans. The hillock whereof I speak is at the entrance of the straits, where the stone lion stands which was set up in honour of Leonidas. Here they defended themselves to the last, such as still had swords using them, and the others resisting with their hands and teeth; till the barbarians, who in part had pulled down the wall and attacked them in front, in part had gone round and now encircled them upon every side, overwhelmed and buried the remnant which was left beneath showers of missile weapons. Thus nobly did the whole body of Lacedaemonians and Thespians behave; but nevertheless one man is said to have distinguished himself above all the rest, to wit, Dieneces the Spartan. A speech which he made before the Greeks engaged the Medes, remains on record. One of the Trachinians told him, ‘Such was the number of the barbarians, that when they shot forth their arrows the sun would be darkened by their multitude.’ Dieneces, not at all frightened at these words, but making light of the Median numbers, answered ‘Our Trachinian friend brings us excellent tidings. If the Medes darken the sun, we shall have our fight in the shade.’ ” Bk VIII: Xerxes reflects on the passage of time:  “And now, as he looked and saw the whole Hellespont covered with the vessels of his fleet, and all the shore and every plain about Abydos as full as possible of men, Xerxes congratulated himself on his good fortune; but after a little while he wept.  Then Artabanus, the king’s uncle (the same who at the first spake so freely against the king, and advised him not to lead his army against Greece) when he heard that Xerxes was in tears, went to him, and said: ‘How different, sire, is what thou art now doing, from what thou didst a little while ago! Then thou didst congratulate thyself; and now, behold! thou weepest.’ ‘There came upon me,’ replied he, ‘a sudden pity, when I thought of the shortness of man’s life, and considered that of all this host, numerous as it is, not one will be alive when a hundred years are gone by.’ ‘And yet there are sadder things in life than that,’ returned the other. ‘Short as our time is, there is no man, whether it be here among this multitude or elsewhere, who is so happy, as not to have felt the wish — I will not say once, but full many a time — that he were dead rather than alive. Calamities fall upon us; sicknesses vex and harass us, and make life, short though it be, to appear long. So death, through the wretchedness of our life, is a most sweet refuge to our race; and God, who gives the tastes that we enjoy of pleasant times, is seen, in his very gift, to be envious.’” 

  16. 4 out of 5

    Laila

    Bir solukta okursunuz, destansı üslubunu seversiniz, başta sayfa sayısı çok gibi gelir, ne zaman bitti anlamazsınız. Yunan-Pers mücadelesi özellikle Leonidas ve Kserkses arası mücadeleleri anlatıldığı bölüm nefisti! Kütüphaneden alarak okudum, Calibromda e kitap olarak var ama en kısa zamanda basılı bir versiyonu da kütüphanemizde olsun isterim. Baş ucu eseri! Ayrıca Müntekim Ökmen'de harika dip notlar hazmış. Kafanız takılınca hızır gibi yetişiyor. Ölmeden mutlaka okuyun, okutun!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Camille Stein

    Heródoto, con y sin acento | el librero web - http://ow.ly/xdkQV ... La originalidad de Heródoto se sustancia en la amenidad de la expedición histórica que propone. No es tan relevante la exactitud de los hechos como la intención de involucrarse en el transcurso de los mismos: ser a la vez testigo y protagonista de una realidad que se convierte en aventura literaria, cercana y tremendamente atractiva.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nathan "N.R." Gaddis

    More Infinite Jest than The History of the Peloponnesian War. Honest. Wish I had the Landmark edition at the time. But Oxford does make nice books.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    How to review Herodotus? It's much like trying to review the Bible. Most would probably say something like, "I liked the blood and guts and stories about the cheating wives of kings; the genealogies were boring." But I found the entire book utterly captivating. It's something special to be able to lose yourself in a world that's completely different from your own, that has a rich history of its own with strange characters and stranger frontiers. Herodotus is truly a child of the world, marveling How to review Herodotus? It's much like trying to review the Bible. Most would probably say something like, "I liked the blood and guts and stories about the cheating wives of kings; the genealogies were boring." But I found the entire book utterly captivating. It's something special to be able to lose yourself in a world that's completely different from your own, that has a rich history of its own with strange characters and stranger frontiers. Herodotus is truly a child of the world, marveling at its every wonder. To the modern reader, much of what he writes is quaintly naive (and at times pretty racist). For instance, when describing Indians (a people he located in the very northwestern part of what we now know as India), he says that they "dwell farthest to the east and closest to the sunrise. For east of the Indians lies an uninhabitable desert of nothing but sand." (3.98.2) These Indians also "have intercourse out in the open just like animals" and "the seed they ejaculate into their wives is not white like that of the rest of men, but black like their skin and like the semen of the Ethiopians." (3.101.1-2) And in describing the land of Egypt, he constantly spews wildly inaccurate exoticisms. He describes the symbiotic relationship between an alligator and a plover (bird); the alligator, who is the most vicious creature in the world, opens its mouth to let the plover eat the leeches from his gums (not true, despite the misinformation still circling today, even). There is a report of ants that are smaller than dogs but larger than foxes who gather gold out of the desert. He tells a story about a race of one-eyed men who steal gold from gold-hoarding griffins, but he discounts the story because he can't believe in the existence of one-eyed men (the eagle-headed lion, however, he has no trouble accepting.) Herodotus's histories are great fodder for contemporary literature. I have no doubt that every story that could be told had already been told by the time of Herodotus. The influence of literature like this is most plainly seen in fantasy works; after all, the ancient Greeks lived in a fantasy world, where gods wreaked havoc and monsters resided in the shadows. George R.R. Martin's Song of Ice and Fire would never have existed without Herodotus and the works of his peers. His tyrants, whores, valiant knights, plots of political intrigue and betrayal, may very well have all been lifted right off the papyri of these ancient texts. And no one could blame him for doing so. This is good stuff. So Herodotus is truly a child of the world, marveling at its every wonder. But if he's so gullible, can we really call this history? My answer is that I don't really care what you call it. This is better than history. It's entertaining, it's fascinating, it's educational at times. Much like the Bible, it's got a bit of everything. It's a collage of knowledge, ancient rumors, wild speculation, and bewildering stories, that's begging out to be read and enjoyed by even such a removed generation as ours. P.S. A quick note on the Landmark edition, translated by Andrea L. Purvis and edited by Robert B. Strassler. With all these maps and appendices and copious footnotes, why would you ever read a different edition? It's well worth it to shell out a few more bones for this one.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Although he is the very first historian in Western Civilization, Herodotus has something of a bad reputation for being too gullible. Current critical opinion tends to favor Herodotus's near contemporary, Thucydides, the author of an equally great history of The Peloponnesian War. And yet, as I re-read the earlier book, I was surprised that Herodotus frequently notes that he doesn't always believe what he has been told, but presents it anyhow, if only because the Greek word for "history" is the s Although he is the very first historian in Western Civilization, Herodotus has something of a bad reputation for being too gullible. Current critical opinion tends to favor Herodotus's near contemporary, Thucydides, the author of an equally great history of The Peloponnesian War. And yet, as I re-read the earlier book, I was surprised that Herodotus frequently notes that he doesn't always believe what he has been told, but presents it anyhow, if only because the Greek word for "history" is the same as the Greek word for "investigation." There is something of the ethnologist in Herodotus: He is an Ionian from Halicarnassus, a people who have had a much longer acquaintance with the Persians, Medes, Assyrians, and other peoples of the East than the mainland Greeks. The first five of the nine books of The Histories are mostly a survey of the peoples who allied themselves with Darius and Xerxes in their invasions of Greece. It is here that most of the outlandish anecdotes are concentrated, in his investigations of such peoples as the Egyptians, Libyans, and Scythians. Once the invasions themselves begins, his history becomes more exciting, with fewer digressions and greater plausibility. I would recommend that readers take the first five books slowly and savor the strangeness. Once the battles of Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis, Plataea and Mycale had been fought, Herodotus showed himself to be a true Greek and one fiercely proud of his heritage.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Years ago, I was on jury duty in LA. This was back when jury duty largely consisted of waiting around in a large room each day for a week. I brought along a copy of The Histories (the Rawlinson translation published by Everyman's Library) and found myself engrossed by all the stories, tall tales, gossip, rumors, etc. It's a wonderful panoply that's on offer here! Sure, Herodotus was criticized by many for not writing "facts," but the power of stories is far greater, and he knew it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dani Rose

    A wonderful start for someone looking to ease into classical primary sources. Not as dry or intimidating as Thucydides.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Anaszaidan

    لم أكن أظن بأن الكتاب سيكون مثيرا لي..إلا أن كتب التاريخ قديما تشابه كتب أدب الرحلات من حيث وصف الحياة الاجتماعية وطبيعة الحيوانات المدجنة والمستوحشة ونوع الأمر والثمار في كل بلاد..لذا كان الكتاب ممتعا من حيث تحقيقه لفتا لأنظاري واهتمامي. فيه قصص هي من العجب..كقصة الخاتم الثمين الذي رماه أحد حكام الإغريق على ما أذكر في البحر،ثم يعود له الخاتم بعد تكريم الحاكم لصياد بسيط..فما كان من الصياد إلا أن أهداه سمكة كان الخاتم فيها! أيضا سمعت قصة عجيبة كنت أظن سابقا أنها من أمراض عصرنا بسبب كثرة الفجور والخ لم أكن أظن بأن الكتاب سيكون مثيرا لي..إلا أن كتب التاريخ قديما تشابه كتب أدب الرحلات من حيث وصف الحياة الاجتماعية وطبيعة الحيوانات المدجنة والمستوحشة ونوع الأمر والثمار في كل بلاد..لذا كان الكتاب ممتعا من حيث تحقيقه لفتا لأنظاري واهتمامي. فيه قصص هي من العجب..كقصة الخاتم الثمين الذي رماه أحد حكام الإغريق على ما أذكر في البحر،ثم يعود له الخاتم بعد تكريم الحاكم لصياد بسيط..فما كان من الصياد إلا أن أهداه سمكة كان الخاتم فيها! أيضا سمعت قصة عجيبة كنت أظن سابقا أنها من أمراض عصرنا بسبب كثرة الفجور والخنا. فأحد الملوك ممن فيه دياثة. كان يصف زوجته لوزيره وصفا مثيرا،ثم دله على كيفية مشاهدة زوجته واضعة ملابسها. لم يكن الوزير قادرا على رفض أوامر ملكه..فلما فعل ما فعل وعرفت زوجة الملك بما جرى معها طلبت الوزير سرا وقالت له إما أن أقتلك وإما أن أكون زوجتك ونقتل الملك!..وكان لها ما كان من قتل الملك. أيضا تحدث المؤلف عن النساء الأمازونيات..فقد اشتهرن بالقوة والصلابة،وبامتهان الصيد ورمي القوس. وقد أسرن مرة وأركبن ظهر سفينة. فتمكنّ من فك القيك وقتل آسريهن كلهم..ثم اكتشفن أنهن لا يعرفن كيفية قيادة السفينة..فدار بهن البحر حتى وصلن إلى اليابسة وعدن إلى عملهن الصيد والنهب بقوة السلاح، في قصة مطولة تزوجن خلالها من رجال معروفين بالقتال!. قصة الأمازونيات لوحدها كافية لتأمل سلوك الجنسين في التقارب فيما بينهما..وما يفاجئ ذلك من تضارب أنماط المهام المنوطة بكل جنس..فالرجال المقاتلون لم يتقبلوا في البداية أن يرتبطوا بنساء مقاتلات..وقد احتاجوا للهجرة كي ينأوا بهذا النمط النشاز لنسائهم من بقعتهم تلك. لم يخل الكتاب من معلومات قد أعتبرها بدرايتي البسيطة خاطئة..فمثلا زعم المؤلف أن التمساح لا يرى داخل الماء. وهذا خطأ لو أن المؤلف عنى بالتمساح ما نشاهده في عالمنا الذي نعيش فيه. استمعت للكتاب صوتيا، وقد حفزني ما فيه إلى اقتناء الكتاب.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Herodotus, as advertised, writes with a breezy, conversational, scandalous tone; the Histories can be confusing, and the events related in them are only sometimes of any real interest, but it's fun to just hang out and listen to Herodotus tell stories. That said, if you were to choose to read excerpts instead of the whole, I wouldn't judge you. Over 700 pages, it all starts to run together pretty badly. Book Two is really fun; Books 6 - 8 cover Marathon, Thermopylae, and Salamis, the famous, deci Herodotus, as advertised, writes with a breezy, conversational, scandalous tone; the Histories can be confusing, and the events related in them are only sometimes of any real interest, but it's fun to just hang out and listen to Herodotus tell stories. That said, if you were to choose to read excerpts instead of the whole, I wouldn't judge you. Over 700 pages, it all starts to run together pretty badly. Book Two is really fun; Books 6 - 8 cover Marathon, Thermopylae, and Salamis, the famous, decisive battles in the Greco-Persian War; that's pretty cool stuff, and also fairly straightforward in terms of telling a story. Like the Iliad, the Histories are incredibly violent. Take the story of Zopyros from Book 3, who turns himself into a Trojan Horse; he mutilates himself - chops off his own nose and ears! - to make his story of being a deserter more believable to the Babylonians, then sacrifices 7,000 of his own troops to build up credibility with them, before finally betraying them and opening the gates to Babylon to allow the Persians to retake it. That's some cold shit, right? There's plenty more where that came from. The Landmark edition is as good as everyone says it is. Tons of maps (okay, an utterly gratuitous number of maps, but so what? Everyone loves maps) and interesting supporting photos. The Appendices are of varying quality. The main problem with the Landmark edition is that it's coffee table-sized, so it's a total pain in the ass to read.

  25. 5 out of 5

    David Sarkies

    An anthropological and historical survey of Ancient Greece and the Near East 26 April Located in the Ancient Agora in Athens, under the reconstructed Stoa (porch) of Herod Atticus, is a bust of what could be considered to be the world's first ever historian. It always fascinates me that in an era long before photography was ever conceived, and the ability to paint was restricted to basic drawings and sketches (if indeed they have survived), that because of the skill and ability of the ancient scu An anthropological and historical survey of Ancient Greece and the Near East 26 April Located in the Ancient Agora in Athens, under the reconstructed Stoa (porch) of Herod Atticus, is a bust of what could be considered to be the world's first ever historian. It always fascinates me that in an era long before photography was ever conceived, and the ability to paint was restricted to basic drawings and sketches (if indeed they have survived), that because of the skill and ability of the ancient sculptors we are able to have a good idea of what these ancient people looked like. As for me, when I wondered into the Stoa of Atticus on hot Greek summer sunday, I stood amazed before the bust of Herodotus and said to myself, 'so, he did have a beard'. Anyway, for those who have been dying to know where Frank Miller got the idea for these movies (and comic books from which the movies were adapted): then this is the book. In fact, Herodotus of Halicarnasus, in the opening paragraph, says that the purpose of this book is for the readers to understand the background to how these particular events occurred, namely the war between the Persians and the Greeks, which culminated in the battles of Thermopylae (300), Salamis (300: Rise of an Empire, though the movie is much, much, much more loosely based on the actual events than is 300) and Plataea (mentioned in passing at the end of 300). Oh, and I probably should also mention the battle of Marathon, where the Athenians managed to defeat the Persian landing party using the same tactics that Hannibal used to defeat the Romans at Cannae. Herodotus brings back a lot of memories for me though, especially sitting in Ancient Greek translating the entirety of book (or chapter) two, which is an 80 page exposition on the Egyptian culture (which, in my own opinion, is quite fascinating, particularly since he notices that the Egyptians practiced circumcision). Anyway, there have been a number of debates as to whether Herodotus is actually a history, or whether it is more of an anthropological text because he does spend an incredible amount of time exploring the culture and practices of many of the nations that live in the regions that he is interested in (namely everything to the east of Greece because, for some reason, in Herodotus' world, there is nothing all that much interesting to the west, despite the fact that at this time Rome did exist as a city – though he does mention Carthage and the Greek colonies in Sicily). They (and by they I pretty much mean everybody) refer to Herodotus as the 'Father of History' and in many ways that is the case. The original Greek title of the book is 'Historia' which, in Greek, means, well, a story or a tale, which is in many cases correct because it is the story, or the tale, of how we arrived at this particular point. Ignoring all of the distractions (and there are some pretty fascinating distractions at that) regarding the cultural behaviours of the people that Herodotus explores (for instance the Persians did not have market places, the Egyptians loved al-fresco dining, and the Scythians did not believe in marriage, but rather shared and shared alike), the whole purpose of this incredibly long (and fascinating) book is about the Third (or second, depending on whether you include the first attempted invasion of Greece where Darius' fleet was destroyed off the coast of Mount Athos) Persian War and the victory of the Greeks over the much more powerful Persian Empire (though one could say that this is not actually all that surprising considering that at the time the Persian Empire had reached the limits of its power). Another thing they (and by that I mean a handful of Classical Historians) say about Herodotus is that he is the 'Father of Lies'. Personally I thought that this is probably a little bit too harsh for the poor guy since the Bible refers to this guy: as the father of lies, and I won't throw in the picture of some politician as another comparison since, as everybody knows, all politicians lie for their own benefit. Anyway, back to Herodotus and as to why they refer to him as such. First of all it seems that it is because he writes about a number of things that he himself could simply not know about. This I feel may be a little strenuous because throughout his book Herodotus does indicate that he obtained much of his information from people who have been to those places or where witnesses to those events, and we also need to consider that back in those days the writers (especially the first Historian) did not need to quote sources in the same way that academics do today. The other reason that I suspect is probably because Herodotus is writing from an Hellenic point of view meaning that one could consider that much of his writings are little more than propaganda, exulting the Greeks above that of the other races. However the fact that Herodotus goes into enormous details in relation to the other cultures that existed around him at the time, I believe, is evidence against the idea that Herodotus is little more than an Ancient Greek propagandist. The final thing that I want to look at is Herodotus' relationship with the Bible. Okay, as far as I know nobody is using Herodotus as a means to disprove the accounts of the Old Testament because, well, he is neither here nor there with regards to the accounts in the Bible. For those who want to disprove the Bible, my position is that you are going to have to look elsewhere because the fact that Herodotus does not mention the Jewish nation is a pretty flimsy attack, especially since at the time of Herodotus' writing it was most likely around the time the Jews had returned from exile and were probably did not even appear on his radar. In fact, you will notice that Herodotus does not even mention the existence of the Philistines or any of the other tribes that inhabited the area (though we should note that when the Assyrians and Babylonians conquered Palestine they shifted the populations around so as to prevent nationalist uprisings). What we do have with regards to Herodotus and the Bible (with the exception of the three main kings of Persia, who are mentioned in both accounts) is the fall of Babylon. For those who believe that there is a difference (Herodotus mentions two incidents, though the second was a nationalist uprising against the Persian overlords) we need to consider the reasoning behind the two accounts. Herodotus is writing a detailed history of the Greco-Persian conflicts and in doing so is writing a history of the Persian Empire from its inception. One of the significant events in the rise of the Persian Empire was the fact that they managed to conquer the Babylonian Empire (who had previously held sway over the Middle East), and Herodotus goes into explicit details in how that happened. The Biblical account of the fall of the Babylonian Empire can be found in the book of Daniel (Chapter 5). Here we have what is in effect a very brief description of what happened, namely Belshazzar went to sleep (probably quite drunk) King of Babylon and work up a Persian slave. The reason that Daniel does not go into explicit detail in relation to the fall of Babylon is that he is not writing a history but rather a theological tract and in doing so he is demonstrating the power of God over the Earthly authorities. Up until that time nobody imagined that Babylon would fall. Even though at the time the Persian army was camped outside the gates of the city, nobody believed that they would be able to breach the walls. However, the Persians did manage to breach the walls and the Babylonian empire was overthrown. Daniel's purpose was not to say how it happened (most likely because his readers probably already knew how it happened) but rather he was showing God's hand in the event. What Herodotus shows us, though, is how it happened, and by reading Daniel's account we can see God's hand in these events. For those who are interested, I have written a blog post on what the world would have been like if the Greeks had lost at Marathon, and lost at Salamis.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    "Inquiry" is the proper title of this work, from the Greek ἱστορία, but Herodotus will never be known as "The Father of Inquiries," so I guess he's stuck with the History tag. It is helpful to know that the goal of Herodotus was not strictly an accounting of events -- his primary purpose was to ask questions about remarkable things (including foreign cultures, bizarre landscapes, strange animals, and amazing tales) and report them in a way that might eventually explain the reasons for the Persia "Inquiry" is the proper title of this work, from the Greek ἱστορία, but Herodotus will never be known as "The Father of Inquiries," so I guess he's stuck with the History tag. It is helpful to know that the goal of Herodotus was not strictly an accounting of events -- his primary purpose was to ask questions about remarkable things (including foreign cultures, bizarre landscapes, strange animals, and amazing tales) and report them in a way that might eventually explain the reasons for the Persian War. History as we know it was only a part of his overall project. Herodotus was influenced not only by Homer in the way he reports his findings, but also by the Ionian intellectual revolution that spawned the first scientists. He's a really curious guy, and his curiosity isn't limited to military or political events. The most amazing tale of his time and place was the rise of the Persian Empire and their improbable defeat at the hands of a much smaller coalition of Greek city states. That story is the crowning concern of the Inquiry, but leading up to that are examinations of all of the people and lands which were at some point in contact with the Persians, especially the Egyptians, the Scythians, and of course the Greeks. There are numerous "digressions" on almost every conceivable subject, but each side trip circles back to the path to the heart of the book: the nature of and reasons for the Persian-Greek conflict. In the process he reveals something about the character of humanity in general. He makes no final conclusions about this, but he opens the way for rich discussion.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Alp Turgut

    Tarihte yazılmış ilk tarih kitabı olma özelliği taşımasından ötürü dünya edebiyatı açısından önemli bir yere sahip olan Herodotos'un "Histories / Tarih"i benim gibi Antik Yunan Edebiyatı'nı tam anlamıyla bitirmek isteyen okuyuculara yönelik bir eser. MÖ 5. yüzyılda yazılmış olması nedeniyle içinde bir sürü yanlış barındıran eseri okurken yazarın harikulade gözlem ve araştırma yeteneğine ve de en önemlisi bunları bir araya getiriş şekline hayran kalmamak elde değil. Pers İmparatoru Cyrus / Kyros' Tarihte yazılmış ilk tarih kitabı olma özelliği taşımasından ötürü dünya edebiyatı açısından önemli bir yere sahip olan Herodotos'un "Histories / Tarih"i benim gibi Antik Yunan Edebiyatı'nı tam anlamıyla bitirmek isteyen okuyuculara yönelik bir eser. MÖ 5. yüzyılda yazılmış olması nedeniyle içinde bir sürü yanlış barındıran eseri okurken yazarın harikulade gözlem ve araştırma yeteneğine ve de en önemlisi bunları bir araya getiriş şekline hayran kalmamak elde değil. Pers İmparatoru Cyrus / Kyros'dan başlayarak sırasıyla Cambyses / Kambyses, Darius / Dareios ve Xerxes / Kserkes'in hikayesinden 300 Spartalı'nın hikayesi olarak bilinen Thermopylae Savaşı'na kadar Themistocles ve Leonidas gibi önemli tarihi figürün içinde bulunduğu birçok önemli tarihi olayı okuma şansı bulduğumuz kitapta Mısır tarihine bile rastlamak mümkün. Herodotos'un coğrafi tasvirlerini inanılmaz sıkıcı ve gereksiz bulmama rağmen karakter hikayelerini çok beğendiğimi söylemek isterim. Okudukça insanoğlunun ne kadar vahşi olduğuna bir kez daha tanıklık ederken insanların aslında hiç değişmediğini açık bir şekilde görüyorsunuz. Yine de fazla özel isim barındırması nedeniyle okuması oldukça zor ve gerçekten sabır gerektiren bir eser olduğunu söylemekte fayda var. Kısaca, Antik Yunan Edebiyatı'nın son halkası olduğunu düşündüğüm Herodotos'un "Tarih"ini okumadan önce Homeros, Virgil, Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus ve biraz Platon okumak şart. 30.03.2015 İstanbul, Türkiye Alp Turgut http://www.filmdoktoru.com/kitap-labo...

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alcyone

    I absolutely adore this book! It is among my top favorites. What I'm sure most people identify it with, if they can identify it at all, is the movie 300. Yes, this book does relate the first, true story of the 300 Spartans and not with comic pictures. It is one of my favorite stories in this book (there are many: suicidal cats, burning of Athens, Croesus and Solon, etc.), but it is far from the baseness of the horribly inaccurate movie.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    I had read this work three times before, always in George Rawlinson’s traditional translation. I wanted to read it at least once more as I listened to the lecture series on Herodotus by Professor Elizabeth Vandiver of Whitman College, a lecture series made available through the Teaching Company via their Great Courses. At Vandiver’s recommendation I used Robin Waterfield’s more recent translation and found it most satisfactory. This edition also contains adequate maps, an essential feature contr I had read this work three times before, always in George Rawlinson’s traditional translation. I wanted to read it at least once more as I listened to the lecture series on Herodotus by Professor Elizabeth Vandiver of Whitman College, a lecture series made available through the Teaching Company via their Great Courses. At Vandiver’s recommendation I used Robin Waterfield’s more recent translation and found it most satisfactory. This edition also contains adequate maps, an essential feature contributing to the reader’s understanding of Herodotus’ account which was written in the late 5th century BCE. Like many writers and artists from long ago, Herodotus’ reputation has waxed and waned over the centuries. One hundred years ago he was often the brunt of criticisms for his “outdated” approach to the writing of history. In recent decades, however, he has made somewhat of a comeback as his approach has been understood in the context of his times and the discipline of historiography generally. He has often been referred to as “The Father of History” (a title that some later scholars have felt should be more appropriately given to Herodotus’ successor Thucydides) in the sense that he was the first to write in a genre approximating modern historical writing. His work is an amalgam of history and literature influenced by his lack of written sources, his only sources having been oral tradition and the eye-witness accounts of the two to three previous generations regarding the Persian Wars. Herodotus attempted to evaluate and critique multiple stories and explanations even while including variations, however implausible. He also included set pieces, notably speeches by protagonists, that neither he nor his sources could have witnessed directly. This inclusiveness was the result not of credulity but of an attempt at thoroughness and a demonstration of his critical capacities. The study of history, like the study of any field of scholarship, requires the development of both a philosophy and an approach, a technique if you will, and the work of Herodotus shows us the first systemized efforts in this direction. He is interested in the “why” of what has happened in the past, and if his efforts seem different from our own, and especially from approaches that are not only currently fashionable but constantly changing, those efforts can interest and enlighten us. The first half of the work is essentially background material to the wars between the Persians and the Greeks in 490 BCE and again about a decade later, material often interesting, often admittedly (by Herodotus himself) unbelievable. The book’s second half focuses more clearly on the invasions of Greece by Darius and then Xerxes. These events were within the living memory of some of his audience, or at least his audience might have known ancestors who knew people who experienced these events. Herodotus knew his contemporary history in that he was aware of what came after the events he was narrating, and this knowledge influenced his purpose and emphasis. He began by examining and postulating the causes of antagonisms between Greeks and Persians, going back to legendary stories. He tried to give a logical background to more recent events, and attempted to provide reasons for why events occurred as they did. Some scholars believe that Herodotus wrote large chunks of the book earlier and independently and then inserted these sections into his final work. These include his detailed examination of Egyptian history, Persian history, Scythian history, and his contrasting these with each other and especially with Greek history and culture. There is apparently some reasonable evidence that these sections were written separately and then integrated into his larger work as Herodotus gradually grew in his understanding of what he was about. He was a proponent of the “Great Man” view of historical causality, this probably resulting from the nature of his sources, sources that traditionally had emphasized heroes and a heroic, often legendary, past. Although currently not in fashion, this perspective lasted for centuries, eg in the work of Thomas Carlyle in the 19th century. The book’s second half, describing the two wars themselves, more nearly approximates historical writing as we have come to know it, at least until the 20th century. There are two kinds of history, the first being actual historical happenings themselves, the second being the narrative or description of those events. Herodotus tried to make sense of events, critiquing his “data” in an effort to create a narrative that explained as well as described. He is an important figure in the evolution of historical writing as a genre. Each age interprets history through its own lenses, for its own purposes. None is strictly “objective” in that each relies on memory in some form, itself fraught with ambiguity, and each tries to explain events and trends, necessarily selecting, ignoring, organizing, and combining data to prove its point or illuminate its conclusions. I found the work to be important and fascinating, a lens through which to view history that occurred over two millennia ago and a view of historical writing in and of itself to be compared with the changes that have evolved in that discipline subsequently.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elie F

    Herodotus tried to sound objective, but he obviously incorporated a lot of his interpretations into the storytelling. What's refreshing is that his interpretations are based on the criteria of plausibility. He believed things as so because his reasoning concluded that it was the most plausible. Gods still play a part, but what determines the success is human. Some parts of The Histories read Machiavellian, with its political trickery, schemes, manipulations of public sentiments; but for Herodotu Herodotus tried to sound objective, but he obviously incorporated a lot of his interpretations into the storytelling. What's refreshing is that his interpretations are based on the criteria of plausibility. He believed things as so because his reasoning concluded that it was the most plausible. Gods still play a part, but what determines the success is human. Some parts of The Histories read Machiavellian, with its political trickery, schemes, manipulations of public sentiments; but for Herodotus the bottom line is democracy is better than dictatorship (as it is for Machiavelli). Many characters were portrayed as incredibly wise, among which Deioces and Croesus are the most unforgettable to me. The gist of the wisdom Herodotus intended to impart is moderation and balance. "It is always the largest building and the tallest trees on which Zeus hurls his thunderbolt. It is the god's way to curtail anything excessive." Great nations were almost always doomed by the rulers' excessive passion to expand territory and march forever onward. The greatest ruler, Herodotus believes, is the one who balances courage with fear, passion with modesty.

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