Kenny's Reviews > The Histories

The Histories by Herodotus
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May 30, 14


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 strength: whereas Thucydides and most later ancient historians would only give you the narrative they thought most plausible, Herodotus routinely gives several different versions of events as he heard them from different sources, and tells tales he heard but which he expressly doesn't personally believe. This is awesome because it allows us to double-check his work. For example, in 4.42 Herodotus describes the circumnavigation of Africa by the Egyptians ca. 600; and the detail he finds most unbelievable in the story--that the sailors had the sun to the northward of them as they sailed around the southern tip of Africa--is accurate and is now considered the best evidence that such a journey actually happened. Awesome book great job, H!
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David Sarkies If you are writing a review of Herodotus, you are no mere mortal.


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