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The Histories

by Herodotus

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,04579732 (4.12)6 / 279
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who lived in the fifth century BC (c.484 - 425 BC). He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a well-constructed and vivid narrative. The Histories-his masterpiece and the only work he is known to have produced-is a record of his "inquiry", being an investigation of the origins of the Greco-Persian Wars and including a wealth of geographical and ethnographical information. The Histories, were divided into nine books, named after the nine Muses: the "Muse of History", Clio, representing the first book, then Euterpe, Thaleia, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Erato, Polymnia, Ourania and Calliope for books 2 to 9, respectively.… (more)
  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 (68)  Dutch (4)  Spanish (3)  Catalan (2)  Swedish (1)  All languages (78)
Showing 1-5 of 68 (next | show all)
Strangely compelling, for ancient history -- especially in this (de Selincourt) translation. ( )
  mkfs | Aug 13, 2022 |
Herodotus is frequently referred to as the first historian, and this work, The Histories, as the first historical work. This book is thus invaluable to the historical profession, and is of particular importance to students of the Ancient Mediterranean. As that is not my area of study, I did find this book a bit of a slog to read through, with its style being so starkly different to what I am used to. There are different books within, and no chapters, making it harder to the reader to pause than more modern works. While certainly interesting, it was a difficult read. I did not come away feeling I would be able to incorporate this work into my own, as it's so drastically different from my usual (early modern) era. I would not likely recommend it for students of history that are not interested in the Ancient Mediterranean, though for anyone who does study the region and place, it is a good read. ( )
  WaldensLibrary | May 16, 2022 |
This was quite a slog, and I abandoned ship at the end of book six, so bear that in mind. This is a book that probably is very rewarding to study, to read it in chunks at bedtime can be a bit problematic. Whilst The Histories has a structure the presentation is not as readable as the layperson might be used to, and I found that I was often lost in time and space! Wait, is this same Megacles? There are some fantastic stories here, but lots of similarly named people going places and fighting over people, in ways that aren't especially dramatic. I always enjoyed the Pythias though, they sounded like they had fun. I guess that I don't want to badmouth this book, because I can recognise that the failings were mostly mine, but if you're a bit of a thicky like me then you might want to get a well-edited or annotated version. I will definitely come back to the last three books sometime though. ( )
1 vote elahrairah | Oct 19, 2021 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 68 (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
de Selincourt, 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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Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who lived in the fifth century BC (c.484 - 425 BC). He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a well-constructed and vivid narrative. The Histories-his masterpiece and the only work he is known to have produced-is a record of his "inquiry", being an investigation of the origins of the Greco-Persian Wars and including a wealth of geographical and ethnographical information. The Histories, were divided into nine books, named after the nine Muses: the "Muse of History", Clio, representing the first book, then Euterpe, Thaleia, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Erato, Polymnia, Ourania and Calliope for books 2 to 9, respectively.

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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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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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