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ANCIENT HISTORY > ARCHIVE - 10. HERODOTUS - THE HISTORIES~BOOK VI/SECTIONS 1-140 (11/17/08 - 11/23/08) ~ No spoilers, please

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

Bentley | 44207 comments Mod
Hello Everyone,

For the week of November 17th through November 23rd, we are reading approximately the next 50 pages of Herodotus - The Histories.

This thread will discuss the following book and sections:

(Book VI - Sections 1- 140)

We will open up a thread for each week's reading. Please make sure to post in the particular thread dedicated to those specific chapters and page numbers to avoid spoilers. We will also open up supplemental threads.


In the Penguin Edition, Book VI, section 1 starts on page 360 and goes through section 140 which concludes on page 411.

This thread should only deal with these sections and with Book Six (although previous parts of Herodotus already discussed can be referenced). No spoilers, please.

Discussion on these sections will begin on November 17th.




message 2: by Prunesquallor (last edited Nov 21, 2008 08:52AM) (new)

Prunesquallor | 37 comments RE message 2 Oldesq -- "I don't know about you all but it seemed to me that there are several people in the Histories who are wounded in the thigh. Originally I thought it might be the type of would that would be painful but survivable but when we read in 6.5 that Histaieus is wounded in the thigh it got me wondering again. I found this interesting comment on a thigh wound being a surrogate for castration and wondered what you all thought?"

Using the word "thigh" as a euphemism for the genitalia, especially the testicles, is quite widespread in ancient times. There is a formula of oath that goes back to early Sumerian times, "Sworn upon the King's Thigh." It is difficult to tell whether this sort of oath was a specifically Semitic culture-trait, or if it originated with the Sumerians. Quite early on in Mesopotamian history, Semites like Sargon of Agade came to rule over a mixed Sumerian/ Semitic-Akkadian empire, some 1000 years before Abraham. It is possible that an "oath upon the testicles of the King" came into general use via Sargon. At any rate, such an oath, sworn upon or under the "thigh" of Abraham is recorded in Biblical texts:

Even the Zoroastrians used this form of oath:

p. 240b

2. "For nearly four years had Zarathustra been absent, and the effect of his preaching in foreign lands had been to cut off the paying of tribute to the City of the Sun. For which reason, Pon'yah, king of Oas, had sworn an oath under his own thigh to pursue Zarathustra, and have him slain."

I had thought that using the term "thigh" instead of genitalia/ testicles was just a Victorian conceit -- it might be interesting to see what the original Greek term in Herodotus reveals, is it actually "thigh," or is it the Greek term for genitalia?

Apparently such an oath had great staying power as the Latin term "testicle" actually refers to the act of swearing by one's genitals, testicle = "little witness."

Consequently, we should keep in mind that throughout our perusals of such texts as Herodotus, there may be many such terms with "hidden meanings," and more significance than the "euphemism" might carry...

message 3: by Prunesquallor (last edited Dec 22, 2008 11:52AM) (new)

Prunesquallor | 37 comments In Book VI, 102 - 120, Herodotus gives us his account of the Battle of Marathon. In fact, this account is our chief primary source for this conflict, Herodotus' narrative was the closest to the event in time, and he could easily have spoken with some of the superannuated participants themselves as he collected material for his account.

One way of determining the accuracy of detail in "The Histories," is to see if we can take this book into the field, and make sense of the course of action that occurred there in 490 BCE. In other words -- how "useful" is the Herodotean account of Marathon when we try to write our own analyses of the battle?

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