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The Histories

by Herodotus

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,52675732 (4.12)6 / 269
Recounts the causes and history of the wars between the Greek city-states and Persia.
  1. 101
    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. 71
    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 (65)  Dutch (4)  Spanish (3)  Catalan (2)  Swedish (1)  All languages (75)
Showing 1-5 of 65 (next | show all)
This has been on my radar and my TBR list (both physical and in general), so it was about time that I actually read this. I really enjoyed reading it. There were some parts that confused me a little bit, but it wasn’t a huge deal for me. There were some parts that also seemed a little biased and/or had very little diversity, but that happens with every piece of work written. I actually got through this book very quickly in relation to previous books I’ve read in 2021. But I’m super happy that I finally got through this book. ( )
  historybookreads | Jul 26, 2021 |
I finally tackled this “I really ought to read this one of these days” doorstopper of a book and found myself thoroughly entertained. One reason for this experience is the edition I read. Instead of the worthy nineteenth-century Rawlinson translation that has sat on my shelf for years and that I occasionally dipped into, I sprang for the recent translation by Robin Waterfield. I’ve heard that Herodotus’s Greek is reasonably straightforward, especially in contrast to the more formal Thucydides, so I found the tone of Waterfield’s translation appropriately colloquial.
For instance, Rawlinson renders the words of a gloomy Persian on the eve of the decisive battle of Plataea: “Verily ’tis the sorest of all human ills, to abound in knowledge and yet have no power over action” (9.16). Undeniably eloquent, but compare Waterfield’s rendering: “There’s no more terrible pain a man can endure than to see clearly and be able to do nothing.” It’s clear that both translations are correct (and a check of the Greek confirmed it). Still, given the length of the book (nearly 600 pages apart from the excellent introduction by Carolyn Dewald and a judicious amount of notes), I felt that a modern translation would serve me better.
Compared to modern history-writing, Herodotus has little interest in population density, economic factors, or technological advances as causes of conflict and determinants of outcomes. Instead, it is a tale of heroes, fate, and retribution. Most conflicts have very personal causes, and the result often has to do with righting an ancient wrong. Although Herodotus’s sympathies are with the Greeks, especially the Athenians, he is even-handed, admiring courage and integrity and censuring cowardice and treachery wherever it appears.
Herodotus declares at the outset that his aim is to explore the causes of the conflict between Greece and Persia, and the book culminates in his stirring account of the doomed attempt of Xerxes to subjugate the Greeks. Yet, he takes many detours along the way. It seems as if he set out to include in his book everything he could find out about the known world. Book Two, for instance, is a detailed and lively account of Egypt, a land which even then could boast an ancient history. Some readers may grow impatient with Herodotus’s reluctance to pass up any excuse to work in a diverting anecdote. Still, if you’re willing to follow him down these sidelines, you may find yourself enjoying them. Herodotus simply knows how to tell a story.
Ah, yes, you might say. A story-teller is surely not the same as a historian. How much of this is reliable? If you take into account the fact that Herodotus was inventing the genre of long-form narrative as he went along, I think it can be argued that, in the course of these “inquiries” (the meaning of “histories” back then), Herodotus lays the groundwork for later critical evaluation of sources. He employs an arsenal of phrases to reflect his judgment -- ranging from trusting to skeptical -- about the tales he includes.
Herodotus traveled widely with an insatiable curiosity and reflected both on what he heard and what he saw first-hand. Many of his conclusions remain valid, two-and-a-half millennia later, For instance, his conviction that no nation stays on top forever, and that the turning point often comes through overreach. ( )
  HenrySt123 | Jul 19, 2021 |
During the fifth century B.C. Herodotus of Halicarnassus traveled the known world making inquiries and doing research on the origins and events of the wars between the Persians and the Greeks. This sizable text was the result and it includes what he referred to as enquiries but what encompasses much of what we would call history, sociology, anthropology, mythology and more. It is a wonderful narrative providing the essential background and events, including famous battles like Thermopylae and profiles of great leaders on both sides including Themistocles, Darius and Xerxes. Perhaps the best way to convey the import of this book is to let Herodotus speak for himself. He opens the book thus:

"Here are presented the results of the enquiry carried out by Herodotus of Halicarnassus. The purpose is to prevent the traces of human events from being erased by time, and to preserve the fame of the important and remarkable achievements produced by both Greeks and non-Greeks; among the matters covered is, in particular, the cause of the hostilities between Greeks and non-Greeks."

Herodotus does not shy away from opinions about the events that he narrates; one of these opinions is related early in Book One:
"I know that human happiness never remains long in the same place."

He also relates the opinions of others, notably Solon who counsels the magnificently wealthy King Croesus:
"Of course, it is impossible for one who is human to have all the good things together, just as there is no one country that is sufficient of itself to provide all good things for itself; but it has one thing and not another, and the country that has the most is best. So no single person is self-sufficient; he has one thing and lacks another. But whoso possesses most of them, continuously, and then ends his life gracefully, he, my lord, may justly win this name you seek---at least in my judgment. But one must look always at the end of everything---how it will come out finally. For to many the god has shown a glimpse of blessedness only to extirpate then in the end."

This value of this, the first historian's judgment and investigation becomes more and more evident as one reads on through his narrative. It demonstrates its excellence through episode after episode with the excitement of a great novel. It is not surprising that it has survived as the first history of the clash of civilizations. Reading it was an adventure into the known world in that time. ( )
  jwhenderson | Jul 17, 2021 |
Considered the founding work of history in Western literature. Written in 430 BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek. Although not a fully impartial record, it remains one of the most important sources regarding these affairs. Moreover, it established the genre and study of history in the Western world (despite the existence of historical records and chronicles beforehand).

The Histories also stands as one of the earliest accounts of the rise of the Persian Empire, as well as the events and causes of the Greco-Persian Wars between the Persian Empire and the Greek city-states in the 5th century BC. Herodotus portrays the conflict as one between the forces of slavery (the Persians) on the one hand, and freedom (the Athenians and the confederacy of Greek city-states which united against the invaders) on the other. The Histories was at some point divided into the nine books that appear in modern editions, conventionally named after the nine Muses. ( )
  Marcos_Augusto | Mar 6, 2021 |
Una joya unica, Herodotus que era niño cuando estos eventos pasaron nos cuenta como fue la guerra de Grecia contra Persia.
Lamentablemente no tenemos otras fuentes y en mucho de lo que nos cuenta posiblemente no es cierto. En todo caso es una lectura unica para entender la epoca.

Pero tambien el libro incluye ciertas descripciones que lo hacen bastente tedioso, los rios por los que el ejercito persiano, etc.

Estoy seguro de que hay otras ediciones que recortan estas cosas y aunque por un lado es un sacrilegio, creo que facilmente se le pueden quitar 100 paginas que no añaden nada a un lector moderno que no sea un historiador. ( )
  trusmis | Nov 28, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 65 (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. vanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dolen, Hein L. vanTranslatorsecondary 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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Recounts the causes and history of the wars between the Greek city-states and Persia.

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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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An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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