|home : ancient Greece : index : article by Jona Lendering ©|
Herodotus of Halicarnassus
||The Greek researcher
Herodotus of Halicarnassus (fifth century BCE) was
the world's first historian. In The Histories,
he describes the expansion of the Achaemenid
empire under its kings Cyrus
the Great, Cambyses
I the Great, culminating in king Xerxes'
expedition in 480 BCE against the Greeks, which met with disaster in the
naval engagement at Salamis
and the battles at Plataea
Herodotus' remarkable book also contains excellent ethnographic descriptions
of the peoples that the Persians have conquered, fairy tales, gossip, legends,
and a very humanitarian morale. (A summary with some historical comments
can be found
This is the eighth part of an article in eight pieces.
Herodotus on causality
Herodotus as a
Herodotus the moralist
was published by K. Hude in the Oxford Classical Texts (1960). Other editions
vary from this text on minor details only.
There are several commentaries on Herodotus. Asheri, Lloyd and Corcella, A Commentary on Herodotus Books I-IV (2007) is now the main text, but has not yet fully replaced the old Commentary on Herodotus by W.W. How and J. Wells. Excellent is the commentary on Herodotus. Book Two by Alan Lloyd. Its three volumes appeared in Leiden between 1975 and 1988. They are a treasury of information on Herodotus' Egyptian logoiand have an important appendix on chronology; the corresponding chapters in the Asheri/Lloyd/Corcella commentary are essentially a summary and update of these books.
J. Gould's study on Herodotus (1987 London) is a good introduction
and gives enough clues to find more specialized literature. Brill's
Companion to Herodotus by Egbert Bakker, Irene de Jong and Hans van
Wees (eds.; 2002 Leiden) is your guide for further study. Important is
Pierre Briant's study on the Achaemenid
empire, Historie de l' empire Perse. De Cyrus a Alexandre (1996
Paris). It is the first comprehensive study of the subject. Those interested
in Herodotus' Greek topography must try to obtain Dietrich Müller's
Bildkommentar zu den Historien Herodotos', I: Greece 1987 Tübingen;
II: Asia Minor 1997 Tübingen).
|Some specialized literature: Silvana
Cagnazzi's article 'Tavola dei 28 logoi di Erodoto' on Herodotus' logoi
can be found in the journal Hermes 103 (1975), page 385-423. Fehling's
Quellenangabe bei Herodot. Studien zur Erzählkunst Herodots was
published in 1971 in Berlin (English translation: Herodotus and his
'sources'. Citation, invention and narrative art, 1989 New York). It
should be supplemented by R. Rollinger, Herodots babylonischer
Logos. Eine kritische Untersuchung der glaubwürdigkeitsdiskussion
(1993, Innsbruck). On the functions of the ethnographical digressions in
general: Rosaria Vignolo Munson, Telling Wonders: Ethnographic and Political
Discourse in the Work of Herodotus (2002 Ann Arbor).
On the Persian Wars, one might read C. Hignett's very detailed and clever Xerxes' invasion of Greece (1963, Oxford). A.R. Burn's Persia and the Greeks. The defence of the West, c.546-478 B.C. (second edition: 1984 London) also discusses some cuneiform evidence. One could also read Peter Green's The Greco-Persian wars (1996, Berkeley), which is a revised and updated edition of an older book.
A fine novel about the Persian court, and the relations between Greece, Persia, India and even China is Creation by Gore Vidal (published in 1981). Don't believe everything you read, but it is fun.