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The Histories

by Herodotus

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,64975633 (4.13)5 / 258
Herodotus is not only known as the `father of history', as Cicero called him, but also the father of ethnography; as well as charting the historical background to the Persian Wars, his curiosity prompts frequent digression on the cultures of the peoples he introduces. While much of theinformation he gives has proved to be astonishingly accurate, he also entertains us with delightful tales of one-eyed men and gold-digging ants. This superbly readable new translation is supplemented by a fresh scholarly perspective that breaks new ground in Herodotean studies, providing readerswith all they need to appreciate the book in depth.CAROLYN DEWALD is Professor of Classics at the University of Southern California.ROBIN WATERFIELD is a distinguished translator whose version of Plato's Republic has been described as `the best available'.* Introduction * Textual Note *Bibliography * Chronology * Appendices * Glossary * Maps * Explanatory Notes * Textual Notes * Index of Proper Names… (more)
  1. 81
    The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides (Voracious_Reader)
    Voracious_Reader: More emotional and probably less factually accurate than Herodutus, it's more fun to read. Its inaccuracies do not take away from its amazing quality
  2. 51
    Travels with Herodotus by Ryszard Kapuściński (BGP)
  3. 20
    Creation by Gore Vidal (Waldstein)
    Waldstein: Bold revisionist treatment in novel form. Masterfully written in the first person singular. Much more fun to read and much greater in scope account of the 5th century BC.
  4. 31
    Soldier of the Mist by Gene Wolfe (LamontCranston)
    LamontCranston: Soldier of the Mist is dedicated to Herodotus, draws heavily upon The Histories for reference material and is set concurrently with the events towards the end (the sacking of Athens and retreat of the Persians) and continues after
  5. 31
    Biblioteca by Fozio (timspalding)
    timspalding: It's instructive to read Herodotus alongside the fragments of Ctesias, particularly the Indica—available on the web or in Photius here.
  6. 22
    History of the Twelve Caesars by Suetonius (gbill)
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English (66)  Dutch (4)  Spanish (3)  Swedish (1)  All languages (74)
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
This has been the read of my life and enlightened the way to think about the world of before and of today. More than the history of the Greek-Persian Wars, its a fascinating work of anthropology, with unique windows into the different tribes and cultures of European and Middle Eastern peoples. Cannot recommend this enough and I won’t believe anyone that read this attentively and does not come with their perspective changed. Its one of the most human accounts of thousands of years of human deeds.

Herodotus takes lots of liberties for sure. He shares the passion for Greek mythology and compensates ignorance with hyperbole, but most of his “lies” are certainly white lies. There were no giant gold eating ants, just a poor translation about mountain ants and marmots that actually like to dig on lands that happen to be rich in gold dust! Other than that, a lot could be later confirmed by archaeology sites and even other historians from his time. Truth is, he also relied a lot on hearsay from the people he talked to and the current political climate, so some biases are to be expected. If he can be accused of being the “Father of Lies” instead of “Father of History”, then blame the Argives!

Translator Robin Waterfield and Editor Carolyn Dewald are incredible at helping the reader understand the context of all this. They bring Herodotus voice in the way its translated, geography and maps of the locations he visited and where the battles occurred, appendix with conversions of Greek and Persian measures, and of course, the hundreds of indispensable explanatory notes. This is one of, if not The version to read if you want to delve into Herodotus works.

Like I said when I read Book I, the main skill this gives is Perception. It does change the perspective how one views the world almost as much as reading a biology book, but this one covers the surface level. The ethnography is probably the main trigger. How things have changed in many ways and how it didn’t change at all. Matriarchal societies were swallowed by empires, just like their gods. Cannibalistic tribes disappeared or isolated themselves. Some were monogamous, many weren’t. Polyandry there, Polygyny there. Others still have remnants today, or at least certain habits can be attributed to, offering interesting data on various fields in anthropology.

As much as I am fascinated by Sparta and all the Greek political intrigue, its the culture I end up sucking in. Their way of life, their gods and its origins, why they do what they do and how. How can it compare with the life we have now. Same for Babylon, Egypt, Syria, Persia. Of course, the politics also matter because of interest and ideology. When we look at a country or an empire, we have at least three main lenses to consider: Interests, Institutions and Ideologies. Individual, collective and norms. That’s what you got to do if you strive to be intellectually honest instead of blaming a left or a right for certain things happening. The Histories, along with historians notes of course, is amongst the best case studies. It also trains the brain to spot bullsh*t and do your research. Makes us learn to theorize certain things and feel gratified when it turns out to be right, or at least, on the way there.

Its a great book to read normally, without going back and forth checking the notes and losing momentum. Therefore, makes it for an easy read. Now, if you really want to deep dive, then prepare for the hard part. There’ s a lot to take in, many things I forgot or just know at surface level, needing to check back to my notes, but granted my main interest was more focused on finding out if those women wielding weapons were true. Guess what, they were! Archaeology confirmed it and might be the inspiration for the Amazons.

The power of Delphi and Pythia was something akin to the Pope. All sorts of leadership relied on information or “prophecies” delivered by them. Although it not always was exactly accurate nor obeyed, it show two things: first, women did have more power at this time than given credit to; second, the education and geopolitical knowledge was pretty high, because they clearly knew how to shape the world and influence the right ruler.

Another thing that makes one question is: what if the whole Greek mythology actually happened thousands of years ago and guys like Homer just romanticized the whole thing? Of course, one could have traveled a lot, see a lot of weird sh*t and come up with something to boost your nations pride, but lets be clear: Greek mythology shows the same behavior as the whole of Greece, which is they simply hate each other and Athens is the one who gets to pay for it anyway, every time.
There’s some wishful thinking in there, but all works we can compare to mythical works are based on real people and real events, why would Iliad and Odyssey be any different? Maybe with so many gods and lighting shows from Zeus and sexual depravity, it may be a higher budget version than the Bible or the Koran, more fitting of HBO than Netflix, but real nonetheless.

Of course, Athena is the embodiment of Athens but the heroes she blesses could be a real famous general, sanctified for its deeds, that got approval to, say kill Medusa. Medusa is all about the snakes. The symbol of Argos is the snake. See where I’m going with this? Scholars have reasons to believe Troy maybe have been a thing after all, and even Herodotus confesses Hercules might have been worshiped somewhere else (like Egypt). Then the Greeks actually “copied” a lot of worship from Egypt and later Romans had similar ideas. Then its all about having the hard job of separating the real thing from the fictional, something that might be impossible. Regardless, memes are shared and they even worshiped Kings and sacrificed to people they deemed divine. To me, this leaves me like the Charlie meme in Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Anything can happen really. Similar things happened much sooner, difference is, we have better technology to record and also lasts longer.

Anyway, this is the best layman scholar level edition you can pick. It was the one recommended to me, so I’ll just sell the same pitch.

The Histories is one of the most important works I’ve read to date. ( )
1 vote Igor_Veloso | Mar 27, 2020 |
2 v. ( )
  ME_Dictionary | Mar 19, 2020 |
Discard box 03/20
  GSHale | Feb 15, 2020 |
READ IN DUTCH/GREEK

This was our final assignment in my Greek class. So I read passages in Greek, translating them in Dutch. Some of the stories of the Histories are very famous, but I'd never realised they came from Herodotus. ( )
  Floratina | Dec 7, 2019 |
Herodotus' Histories are most often remembered as an account of the Persian monarchs Darius' and Xerxes' doomed invasions of Greece and the heroic defenses led by the Athenians and the Spartans (The death of the 300 spartiates at Thermopylea and the battle of Marathon). This is there, and it is important, but there is so much more. Herodotus gives descriptions of the numerous peoples that were known to the Greeks, and he tells stories that, although often dubious, convey ideas of the peoples' character in the most striking possible way. Herodotus himself tells us that it is his business not to try to decide for himself what has happened, which is often impossible, but to record what people say has happened, which has its own significance. Many of these stories are haunting. I still get chills when I think about the tyrant Croesus, who has just been taught the error of his philosophy by the conquering tyrant Cyrus, crying out to God and to the Athenian wise man Solon, as Croesus is about to be burned by Cyrus.

Herodotus is also one of the most useful sources on the history of Egypt, which, along with Egypt's conquest by Persia, takes up a sizable portion of the text. He describes Egyptian culture at length. Herodotus may even have had an accurate report about where to find the source of the Nile, which would long elude European explorers thousands of years down the road. ( )
  EthanRogers | Jul 12, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 66 (next | show all)
OVER the course of the past decade Tom Holland, a British popular historian, has produced a succession of highly readable works of fiction and non-fiction about the classical world. He has adapted Homer, Virgil and Thucydides for the radio and, as a labour of love and at a rate of a paragraph a day, he has translated Herodotus, the man Cicero called “the Father of History”. Mr Holland’s preface states that “Herodotus is the most entertaining of historians”, indeed “as entertaining as anyone who has ever written”. This lively, engaging version of the “Histories” provides ample support for what might otherwise appear to be a wild exaggeration.
added by John_Vaughan | editThe Ecomomist (Nov 21, 2013)
 

» Add other authors (79 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Herodotusprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bawden, EdwardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bendz, GerhardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Blanco, WalterEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burn, A. R.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cartledge, PaulEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Damsté, OnnoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de Sélincourt, AubreyTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dewald, CarolynIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dolen, Hein L. vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dolen, Hein L. vanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grene, DavidTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Holland, TomTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hude, KarlEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Komroff, ManuelEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lange, FriedrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lindskog, AxelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lindskog, ClaesTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lukstiņš, GustavsTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Marincola, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rawlinson, GeorgeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rein, EdvardTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Roberts, Jennifer TolbertEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Waterfield, RobinTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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This is the showing forth of the Inquiry of Herodotus of Halicarnassos so that neither the deeds of men may be forgotten by lapse of time, nor the works great and marvellous, which have been produced some by Hellenes and some by Barbarians, may lose their renown; and especially that the causes may be remembered for which these waged war with one another.
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.

(Penguin Classics, rev. ed., 1972).
Herodotus of Halicarnassus: Researches. These words, visible when the papyrus was rolled up, served the purpose of those on our book-covers.

(Introduction, Penguin Classics, rev. ed., 1972).
Quotations
No one is so foolish as to prefer war to peace, in which, instead of sons burying their fathers, fathers bury their sons.
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.
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Herodotus in translation, the whole book in a single volume or in multiple volumes catalogued as one.
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This is where History really began. Herodotus, though not always accurate, tells a great story of the origin of various civilizations as well as how they thrived. The stories are great even if they can't be taken at face value.
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