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The Histories
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ANCIENT HISTORY > ARCHIVE - * Herodotus and History: Who was the Man?

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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
This thread is devoted to learning more about Herodotus. For every book, we read in The History Club, we will always set up ancillary threads which deal with and discuss the author in greater detail.

These threads are not no spoiler threads. So please realize that on these threads you might encounter some spoilers.

Please discuss any aspect of the life of Herodotus on this thread.


message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Let me get back to you on this; TTC had a little bit to say about this.

I have to say that I do not think that we should take anybody at their word when we are reading them; and I think we would make a mistake with H if we did. Of course, as a source I think we learn a lot from him and also a lot about himself and his particular views.

I am still trying to figure him out and I think there is a motivation for what he does and he states that it is an altruistic one but I am not altogether sure.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

I had the impression that part of his motivation was that Greece was at the height of it's power and glory. It was smug and superior and complacent. His stories are (in part) a warning. No nation is so powerful that it is forever secure in its place. Wasn't the Peloponsian War on when he wrote this? I think he was looking for the causes of the fall of nations.

message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
I don't think that hubris was the main motivation for The Histories; but the idea of hubris in terms of where it may lead and how nations need to be wary of hubris is very strong I think here.

What has anybody found about Herodotus aside from what we have posted already.

In the Travels with Herodotus thread, I mentioned that K wondered the very same things. What was the real reason for this book.

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I really enjoy his description of the values of the Persians. Some of it seems to be tongue-in-cheek, like his description of how they think the people who live closest to them are better than those who live farther. He's poking fun at this as kind of a strange quirk but I think he's also winking at all of us as to some extent, we all think the same way. Again, a little lesson in hubris.

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

Great point Oldesq! We're probably missing the boat on so much!

message 7: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 67 comments I have been thinking about this as I get further into H. I agree that some of the purpose here is hubris but I think that's more what H. would like us to believe his motive is.

I think his real motive is self-preservation. Its a way of saying "I was here." He claims to want to record the heroic deeds of the past and he does attempt to do that .. however to a greater extent he is keeping a diary of interesting tidbits in his own life seen on a trip, similar to how we would take photos on a vacation today. His book in some places resembles a diary.

He is also clearly trying to show off his knowledge in many parts of the book.. the vocabulary he uses.. his theories on geography.. etc.

You also can't help but notice .. the very first words of the text are his name.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

message l0

That's such an interesting point Sarah. How we all want to immortalize ourselves. This book has made me think of writing something myself. It's made me realize that unless we do, everything will be forgotten, as though we were never here. The Greeks called it kleos and some think of it as a particularly Greek idea but I think it's just human.

I can't help thinking of Woody Allen's line when asked if he thought his work would bring him immortality. He said "I don't want to find immortality through my work, I want to find immortality through not dying". I think H can be read on lots of different levels and immortalizing himself and his time is one of them.

message 9: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod

We may be seeing some of Herodotus' hubris; I think he was very much worried about his own mortality and his words living on. And you raise an interesting point.


I love the Woody Allen line. (lol)

message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

message l2

Between The Simpsons and Woody Allen, everything in life can be explained!

message 11: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
You know Vanessa that is probably true.

message 12: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 67 comments Love the Woody Allen quote.

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