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The Histories

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  21,893 ratings  ·  613 reviews
Herodotus is not only the father of the art and the science of historical writing but also one of the Western tradition's most compelling storytellers. In tales such as that of Gyges—who murders Candaules, the king of Lydia, and unsurps his throne and his marriage bed, thereby bringing on, generations later, war with the Persians—he laid bare the intricate human entangleme ...more
Hardcover, 816 pages
Published March 25th 1997 by Everyman's Library 234 (first published -440)
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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
Jan 14, 2014 Brian rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Brian by: Hadrian
Shelves: ruard_referred
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
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
I think I'd 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 can't 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 n ...more
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
David Sarkies
Jul 05, 2014 David Sarkies rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: David Hester
Recommended to David by: Lover's of history and the classics
Shelves: history
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.

Herodotus – The World's first 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
Camille Stein

Heródoto, con y sin acento | el librero web -


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.
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.
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
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 ...more
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.
Patrick Gibson
“Only YOU would go around carrying a copy of Herodotus.”

What did my friend Richard Halverson mean by ‘only YOU?’

Doesn’t everyone find the big H. interesting and funny?

My summers as music apprentice at Chautauqua Opera gave me tons and tons of free time and (if you’ve ever been there, you know) opportunity to read things outside any syllabus.
While waiting for some prima donna director to mount the perfect ‘Turandot’ I spent hours buried in ‘The Histories.’

Now, I am re-reading this – and finding
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
Hegel and Marx get a lot of credit for changing the way we view the writing of history, and well they should. But Herodotus was highlighting the subjectivity of historical records well before either were born.

Here's a perfect example of how translation really does matter: the Penguin Classics edition of Histories is a very different read from this one. The Oxford translation has more humor, more self-awareness, more of an understanding that even Herodotus doesn't necessarily think what he is rep
Oct 28, 2008 Elaine rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All Friends
Not for everyone, and even I could read it in chunks, but I loved it. Herodotus, the first historian, eschewed myth, which is why he was the first historian, but he wasn't above gossip and chattiness. This awesome volume has superb maps showing the places being discussed and even the routes taken by people being talked about. The notes are voluminous, and the translation is wonderful. I'm not a classicist, and don't know any Greek, but the classicists I know who do know the original, say it is t ...more
Rosa Ramôa
Autor da história da invasão persa da Grécia (princípio do século V a.C.), conhecida simplesmente como As histórias de Heródoto.
Heródoto é o pai da História!
Heródoto foi o primeiro a gravar o passado e a considerá-lo um problema filosófico ou um projecto de pesquisa que podia revelar conhecimento do comportamento humano.

Ah, the sublime egoism of the internets, where a mere mortal like me writes a review of Herodotus.
Obviously, as he is the first historian, you should read him. Even if he were boring and inaccurate, you should read him. But Herodotus is certainly not boring, and he's not as inaccurate as a lot of famous quotes from him would make you believe. It's sad, but Herodotus' reputation for inaccuracy, which he had even in the ancient world, comes largely from people stupidly misreading his greatest stre
"I, Herodorus of Halicarnassus, 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."

"It is the job of the historian, in Herodotus' terms, to identify objects, events, and thoughts in various ways, offending as few people as possible by strictness in psychological dogmatism." D
This is extraordinary. I'd always thought of it as one of those classic books that, as Twain put it, "one wants to have read, but nobody wants to read," but it's actually quite a compelling book, and demonstrates exactly why Herodotus is generally considered to be the first real 'historian'. I'd go so far as to say that he might well rank as the first ethnographer as well.

He tells his stories, but expresses skepticism about what he considers fantastical claims, evaluates the reliability of sourc
Cassandra Kay Silva
It took me awhile to get through this one, as there was just so much research that needed to accompany it to find out where and what was always being referenced. Thank goodness for wiki! I had always heard how incredible Herodotus was as a historian, but I found that he was very humble in what he proposed. For example he would reference this or that peoples living in a mountain or eating certain fruits etc. and then he would say that he found the part about them having one eye very unbelievable ...more
Really enjoyable. Herodotus nails down the social and political fabric of his reality in a sprawling, widely digressive work that serves as history, social commentary, geography, philosophy, and scientific rumination all at once without ever reducing to any one of these. Sure, you need an atlas and probably a glossary to keep track of all the places and names, and yes there are many inaccuracies, but that's the point, the ancient world can be a big, messy, place, and nothing is too big or too sm ...more
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 ...more
This book is not only about histories. It's also about the way of life of various long-lost civilizations notably the Persians, the Greeks (apparently there were so many nations then), the Egyptians, the Scythians, and many more. An interesting mix of history, anthropology, geography (I hate this part because there are no illustrations or pictures), political and social sciences...this book is not only quite thick, but provides a really vast description on those above mentioned people. The detai ...more
Todd N
I know I made a New Years resolution to only read economics and personal investing books, but dammit I walked by this on my bookshelf too many times. And I was at Keplers the other day fondling the new Landmark edition (which weighs about 20 times my paperback edition), which got me in the mood for some nutty stories about the ancients.

This is what I call a "Godfather" book because as you read it a lot of cultural references will suddenly make sense. (I didn't watch the Godfather until relativel
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 pr ...more
Lee Razer
Herodotus was a storyteller. The man loved hearing and repeating a good story, even if he felt it necessary to also write down, "Now, I don't believe this myself, I'm just telling you what I heard." He traveled all over what was the known world to a 5th Century BC Ionian Greek talking to leading citizens and gathering material for his epic of ethnography, geography and history, with the Greco-Persian Wars providing the organizing backbone of the work. The Histories is a mixture of the mythologic ...more
I found this book to be totally fascinating. It was wonderful. Herodotus wasn’t just the father of history, but one of the best raconteurs of the ancient world. Oh sure, he sometimes relied on second-hand, third-hand or even fifth-hand accounts but he doesn’t ever try to purposely mislead. Quite often he stresses that the information he is relying could be wrong.

His whole purpose of the book was to tell the story of the Greek-Persian war, but he starts years before then, goes off on side trips t
Karl Kindt
May 24, 2011 Karl Kindt rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: english patient fans
Shelves: 2011
It only took me fourteen years to read it, but I finally finished. I originally picked this up to read because of the reference made to it in THE ENGLISH PATIENT, which at that time was my favorite film ever. I stalled reading it over the years, renewed my interest to continue when Frank Miller published 300, and then once more renewed my interest to continue when 300 the movie came out. It is quite a slog to get through it, but there are bits and pieces of stories too precious to not read this. ...more
If you are not ruled by Thanatos, this is where history begins. Covering the histories of Sparta, Athens, Egypt, Persia, et al., Herodotus anthropologically compares the diversity of human culture (gender roles mixed up everywhere), its beauty (architecture and water works in Egypt; Ninevah), brutality (the Spartan War of 300, the Persian wars), irony (Croesus and Solon) and comedy (the farting Egyptian pretender). Myth merges with fact to produce an amalgamation of every interesting subject kno ...more
You're either a Thucydides fan or a Herodotus fan. It's something you're born. I've always been a Herodotus fan--- I like the structure of the Histories, the sweep of the story, the asides and the descriptions. This is how History begins, and 2500 years later, it's still brilliant. This is how I first began to think about History and the ancient world--- a book I've kept with me since my early teens. I can't imagine being without it.
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About Herodotus and his lies 68 292 Feb 21, 2014 09:04AM  
  • The History of the Peloponnesian War
  • The Persian Expedition
  • The Campaigns of Alexander
  • The Annals of Imperial Rome
  • The Rise and Fall of Athens: Nine Greek Lives
  • The Early History of Rome: (The History of Rome, #1-5)
  • The Conquest of Gaul
  • The Rise of the Roman Empire
  • The Twelve Caesars
  • The Jugurthine War and The Conspiracy of Catiline
  • The Civil Wars
  • The Later Roman Empire: A.D. 354-378
Herodotus (/hɨˈrɒdətəs/; Ancient Greek: Ἡρόδοτος Hēródotos) was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria (modern-day Bodrum, Turkey) and lived in the fifth century BCE (c. 484–425 BCE). He has been called "The Father of History" (first conferred by Cicero), as well as "The Father of Lies" (first conferred by Voltaire). He was the first historian known to collect his material ...more
More about Herodotus...
The Persian War (Translations from Greek & Roman Authors) The History of Herodotus, V1 Herodotus 7-9 (Greek History) An Account of Egypt Snakes with Wings and Gold-digging Ants

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“He asked, 'Croesus, who told you to attack my land and meet me as an enemy instead of a friend?'

The King replied, 'It was caused by your good fate and my bad fate. It was the fault of the Greek gods, who with their arrogance, encouraged me to march onto your lands. Nobody is mad enough to choose war whilst there is peace. During times of peace, the sons bury their fathers, but in war it is the fathers who send their sons to the grave.”
“Of all men’s miseries the bitterest is this: to know so much and to have control over nothing.” 58 likes
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