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The Histories

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  48,205 ratings  ·  1,446 reviews
One of the masterpieces of classical literature, the "Histories" describes how a small and quarrelsome band of Greek city states united to repel the might of the Persian empire. But while this epic struggle forms the core of his work, Herodotus' natural curiosity frequently gives rise to colorful digressions - a description of the natural wonders of Egypt; an account of Eu ...more
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 716 pages
Published January 30th 2003 by Penguin Books (first published -450)
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Carla Toby The first to approach history from a scientific perspective. Herodotus vectored away from the Homerian style of compilation,and attempted to put histo…moreThe first to approach history from a scientific perspective. Herodotus vectored away from the Homerian style of compilation,and attempted to put history in order, backed with facts rather than the traditional collections of oral histories put to paper. Seminal work which should be required reading, not only for the history itself, but for the beauty of the language. Magnificent book.(less)

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Average rating 3.98  · 
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Grace Tjan
Jan 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010, history, classics
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
Ahmad Sharabiani
Ἰστορίαι = The Histories, Herodotus

The Histories of Herodotus is the founding work of history in Western literature. Written in 440 BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek, The Histories serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that were known in Western Asia, Northern Africa and Greece at that time.

Although not a fully impartial record, it remains one of the West's most important sources regarding these affairs. Moreover, it establis
What do Herodotus and Tristram Shandy have in common? Progress through digression.

I suppose my first acquaintance with the work of Herodotus was through that technicolor cold war drama The 300 Spartans in which a rampantly heterosexual force of Spartans defends freedom, liberty, and all that good stuff from allegedly ferocious yet ineffective, hordes of freedom hating Persians. The appalling, appealing, simplicity of that film is a grave disservice to the genius of Herodotus – already mauled by
Riku Sayuj
Hubris in History: A Recurring Terror

“The conversion of legend-writing into the science of history was not native to the Greek mind, it was a fifth-century invention, and Herodotus was the man who invented it.”

~ R.G. Collingwood

The prime subject of The Histories is the twenty years (499-479 B.C.E) of war between Greece and Persia for domination of the Greek world. However he intersperses this main narrative with plenty of personal interest stories, “wonders” about firsts and bests, hist
As a history nerd I always had the idea that I would one day read Herodotus. After all he’s generally regarded as the guy who kicked off the whole show. I had put it off due to the length of the book, but Audible were offering it “free” with my membership for a limited period, and it was that which led me to finally conclude “It is time!”

One thing about Audible is that it doesn’t always tell the reader about the translator. I could tell that the version I had was in 19th century English, and fro
Apr 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Aug 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ancient-history
I think I would 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 cannot 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 -- m
May 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Accordingly the Psylli took counsel among themselves, and by common consent made war upon the southwind---so at least the Libyans say, I do but repeat their words---they went forth and reached the desert; but there the south-wind rose and buried them under heaps of sand: whereupon, the Psylli being destroyed, their lands passed to the Nasamonians.

I read most of this edition (as opposed to the Landmark) picking up donated food for our residential component. It is a strange time. Therefore, it was
John Conquest
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What I read: Histories by Herodotus

What I expected: Thucydides + Persians

What I got: Mountable battle dolphins
The complete discography of Kid Rock
Eyewitness testimony that Ethiopians produce pitch black semen (no homo)
"Our flying snakes will block out the sun!"
On all levels except physical I am a Mede *Whips the sea*
"Herodotus can I borrow 100,000 Persians?" "1,000,000 Persians? What do you need 5,000,000 Persians for?"
The Virgin Greek pederasty, the Chad Persian piss fetish
Clif Hostetler
Sep 20, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
One of the surprising things about this book is that, despite its antiquity, the author’s personality comes through. Of course I’m hearing his voice through translation, but I couldn’t help but imagine that I was on the listening end of an extended conversation with the book’s narrator who had traveled widely, met many people, and read much. The book’s narrative sounds almost conversational with numerous digressions and detours that indicate extensive knowledge of the background of the character ...more
Paul Christensen
Sep 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Unreal book, at the intersection of Greek, Lydian, Persian and Egyptian history, and at the intersection of history and legend. Full of fascinating anecdotes and surmises, signs and wonders.
Paul Haspel
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ancient-greece
“Herodotus was the Father of History.” Fans of The English Patient will remember how often the main character, the enigmatic Hungarian count-turned-archaeologist László de Almásy, utters those words (quoting Cicero in the process). Indeed, Almásy’s personal copy of Herodotus’ Histories, with mementoes from various periods of his life pasted inside, becomes the key to his story of an ill-fated love affair amidst the turmoil of war. And more than 2000 years after Herodotus of Halicarnassus first s ...more
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Years ago, I was on jury duty in LA. This was back when jury duty largely consisted of waiting around in a large room each day for a week. I brought along a copy of The Histories (the Rawlinson translation published by Everyman's Library) and found myself engrossed by all the stories, tall tales, gossip, rumors, etc. It's a wonderful panoply that's on offer here! Sure, Herodotus was criticized by many for not writing "facts," but the power of stories is far greater, and he knew it. ...more
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are an English speaker there is no reason for you to consider buying any other edition of this text. Brilliantly translated, filled with just the right amount of footnotes, maps and pictures, and there is an appendix for pretty much everything you could think of.
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
Jon Nakapalau
I can see why this book is held in such esteem; for the first time the acts of men are looked at through the optics of investigative inquiry - "Circumstances rule men; men do not rule circumstances" is still the lesson we seem to learn and forget every decade - "Circumstance is the hub of the wheel; men are the spokes that provide traction through connection to the felloes of history" is what this book has taught me. ...more
Krolby Kagan
Aug 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: greek, history
If Herodotus only kept to his main story, the growth of Persia and its eventual halt by Greece, the book would probably be only 200 pages long. Thank God he didn't do this. The Histories is a narration of the known world and the people living in it. When introducing a new character, even unimportant ones, he gives very interesting backstories. One of my favourite stories is about Cleisthenes of Sicyon who organized a competition whose winner was to marry his daughter Agariste. Cleisthenes tests ...more
Sep 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Talk about an on point beard!

A surprisingly fun read and certainly worth it for historical significance alone.
Michael Perkins
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Herodotus tells a story of how Croesus, King of Lydia, the richest and 
most favored leader of his time, asked Solon the Athenian, a leading question.
 He would not have asked it if he had he not been worried about the answer.
'Who, he asked, 'is the luckiest person in the world?' He must have been eaten
 with doubt, and hungry for reassurance. Solon told him of three lucky people in
 old times. And Croesus more than likely did not listen; so anxious was he 
about himself. And when Solon did not ...more
Oct 01, 2021 rated it liked it
This review is of the translation by Aubrey de Sélincourt.
As the old cherished translations of great works—the Rosemary Edmonds War and Peace, the E.V. Rieu Homer, the Dorothy Sayers Divine Comedy, and so on—begin to feel almost imperceptibly dated around the edges. If they’re particularly beloved, the editors might attempt a facelift, bringing in some scholar to write a new Introduction and revise the old translation, maybe providing new notes. But such things are delaying actions only; general
“These are the researches of Herodotus of Halicarnassus, which he publishes, in the hope of preserving from decay the remembrance of what men have done, and of preventing the great and wonderful actions of the Greeks and the barbarians from losing their due meed of glory; and withal to put on record what were the grounds of feud.”

Herodotus’s reference to his “researches” (sometimes translated “inquiries”) uses the Greek word historie, from which we get “history.” This is the first recorded use o
Apr 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
This review is of the translation by Andrea L. Purvis.

The Landmark Herodotus is sexyyy. Andrea L. Purvis's translation is pretty solid. I was impressed with the quality of the translation, but it still isn't comparable to Robin Waterfield's translation. Ambiguous statements are footnoted, and the diction is clear and precise. This edition's value comes primarily from the notes (what can I say, I love a good footnote) and the map inserts providing geographic context—there are over 120 maps includ
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
I love how all the primary sources we have for this period of history were written by some guys who just made shit up. Herodotus? Father of lies. Livy? Openly biased. Polybius? A taste for the embellished. Historians as a whole should go back to just bullshitting things within living memory. It's so amusing. Incredibly frustrating from an historiographic perspective, yes. Very funny, also yes.

Robin Waterfield's translation of Herodotus is excellent. Complete with appreciable notes and copious co
Jul 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Oh Herodotus, in some ways I feel like he was my college roommate - fore I spent that much time with him... very enjoyable reading from the "Father of History" about the spread of Hellenism and the Persian empire. Read for my senior thesis in undergrad - it was good to read these classics. ...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.
Czarny Pies
Aug 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: greek-and-roman
This book merits five stars because it truly represents the starting point of Western historical writing.

Herodotus asks all the basic questions that historians are supposed to when confronted with a source. Is the account truthful? If you think that it is not truthful do you ignore the information provided or use it and share your reserves with the reader? The best of historians will occasionally reject truthful accounts and accept lies as truthful. The point is that Herodotus is clearly adopti
This review is of the translation by George Rawlinson.

This edition translates the word ἱστορία as "researches" instead of "inquiries"—neither is precisely correct—in the preamble, which is interesting. That of Herodotus is the first recorded usage of the word ἱστορία, from which we get Latin historia and thereby history.

The first line of the preamble reads thusly:
Ἡροδότου Ἁλικαρνησσέος ἱστορίης ἀπόδεξις ἥδε,
Herodotus / Halikarnassós / histories, inquiries, researches / demonstration, publication
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Herodotus (greek: Ηρόδοτος) 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", as well as "The Father of Lies." He was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent, and arrange them in a well-con ...more

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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.”
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