Herodotus Book 1 Essay Question

A selective bibliography to Herodotus

(items with an asterisk are on reserve)

The bibliography on Herodotus is as massive as the monumental history itself. Below are some starting points for investigation, topically arranged; included are first the principal resources and general studies, followed by studies of special interest for our course.

Last updated 10/2/09


Bakker et al. 2002. A large bibliography accompanies this volume, somewhat unwieldy however (since a collection of references from the individual articles rather than a thoughtful collection).

Bergson 1966. L. Bergson, "Herodotus 1937-60," Lustrum 11.71-138.

Bubel 1991. Frank Bubel, Herodot-Bibliographie, 1980-88. Hildesheim.

Dewald & Marincola 1987. C. Dewald and J. Marincola, "A Selective Introduction to Herodotean Studies," in Boedeker 1987, 9-40. See also Dewald and Marincola 2006.

Marg 1982 ("Literaturverzeichnis").

*Marincola 2001. John Marincola. The Greek Historians. Greece & Rome New Surveys in the Classics, no. 31). Oxford.

Waters 1985, extensive selected bibliography, topically arranged.

Editions and commentaries

*Asheri 2007. David Asheri, Alan Lloyd, Aldo Corcella, Oswyn Murray, Alfonso Moreno. A Commentary on Herodotus, Books I-IV. Oxford, 2007. The fundamental commentary resource for the early books.

Asheri 1988- . David Asheri, Le storie: Erodoto. 9 vols. Superseded in part by Asheri 2007.

Hude 1927, Charles Hude, Herodoti Historiae. Oxford (OCT). 2 vols.

How & Wells 1912. W. W. How and J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus. Oxford 1912, repr. 1928. Long the best historical commentary for the whole of the Histories; the introduction is a useful brief account of Herodotus and his work. In large part (but not entirely) superseded by Asheri 2007.

Legrand 1946-56. Ph.-E. Legrand. Hérodote: Histoires. Les Belles Lettres.

Lloyd 1975, 1976, 1988. Alan B. Lloyd, Herodotus: Book II. Introduction (I) and Commentary (II, III). 3 vols. Leiden. Incorporated into Asheri 2007.

MacNeal 1986. R. A. MacNeal, Herodotus: Book I. Lanham and London, 1986. A radically idiosyncratic, but interesting, edition that reconstitutes text and spellings entirely based on MS A (sic!).

*Powell 1977. J. Enoch Powell, A Lexicon to Herodotus (2nd ed. Hildesheim, 1977). An extraordinary piece of work; very helpful, but sadly now out of print.

Rosén 1987. Herodoti Historiae. Teubner. 2 vols. Now the fundamental critical edition, but too expensive for classroom use. Idiosyncratic at times in critical judgment.

Stein 1869 and 1871. Herodoti Historiae. 2 vols. Still the most ample critical edition; contains the testimonia, and the (rather scanty) scholia.

Stein 1892. Heinrich Stein, Herodotos, 5 vols. Many times revised; the last edition in 1892-1908. Still the best philological commentary on the Histories as a whole, though largely superseded now by Asheri 2007 for the early books.

General studies and standard references

Arieti 1995. James A. Arieti, Discourses on the First Book of Herodotus. Lanham, Mass.

*Bakker et al. 2002. Egbert J. Bakker, Irene J. F. de John, Hans van Wees. Brill’s Companion to Herodotus. Brill.

Boedeker 1987. Deborah Boedeker, ed. Herodotus and the Invention of History,Arethusa special volume, 20 (1987). Very useful bibliography and bibliographic essay (by Dewald & Marincola). A good conspectus of the state of scholarship in the 1980s, now generally superseded by collections such as Luraghi 2007 (revision of the 2001 hardcover), Bakker et al. 2002, Dewald and Marincola 2006.

*Derow and Parker 2003. Peter Derow and Robert Parker. Herodotus and His World. Oxford.

*Dewald and Marincola 2006. Carolyn Dewald and John Marincola. The Cambridge Companion to Herodotus. Cambridge.

*Evans 1982. J. A. S. Evans, Herodotus. Boston 1982. A fine general introduction in the Twayne World Authors Series.

Flory 1987. Stewart Flory, The Archaic Smile of Herodotus (Detroit 1987)

Fornara 1971. C. Fornara, Herodotus: An Interpretative Essay (Oxford 1971).

*Gould 1989. John Gould, Herodotus. New York, 1989. Evans 1982 and this are the best two short introductions to Herodotus.

Jacoby 1913. F. Jacoby, "Herodotos," RE Suppl. 2 (1913) 205-520 (repr. in Jacoby, Griechische Historiker, Stuttgart 1956). A font of information on the Histories, and despite its cobwebs still one of the great contributions to the Realencyclopädia.

Lateiner 1989. Donald Lateiner, The Historical Method of Herodotus (Toronto, 1989).

*Luraghi 2007. Nino Luraghi, ed. The Historian’s Craft in the Age of Herodotus. Oxford.

Marg 1982. W. Marg, Herodot: Eine Auswahl aus der neueren Forschung. Darmstadt.

Marincola 1997. John Marincola, Authority and Tradition in Ancient Historiography (Cambridge 1997).

Myres 1953. John L. Myres, Herodotus, Father of History (Oxford 1953) 20-31.

Powell 1939. J. Enoch Powell, The History of Herodotus (Cambridge 1939). Still useful in ways, though heavily analytical.

Romm 1998. James Romm, Herodotus (New Haven, 1998).

Schmid & Stählin 1934. Wilhelm Schmid and Otto Stählin, Geschichte der Griechischen Literatur [Munich 1934] 1.2.550-673

de Selincourt 1962. Aubrey de Selincourt, The World of Herodotus (London, 1962).

Strasburger 1984. G. Strasburger, Lexikon zur frühgriechischen Geschichte: Auf der Grundlage von Herodots Werk verfasst (Zurich 1984).

Waters 1985. K. H. Waters, Herodotos the Historian: His Problems, Methods and Originality. London and Sydney 1985. Useful bibliography, topically arranged.

Style and language

Bakker 2006. Egbert Bakker, “The syntax of historie: How Herodotus writes.” In Dewald and Marincola 2006.

Denniston 1952. J. Denniston, Greek Prose Style. Oxford.

Dik 1995. Helma Dik. Word Order in Ancient Greek: A Pragmatic Account of Word Order variation in Herodotus. Amsterdam. More interested in Greek word order than in Herodotus.

Fränkel 1960. H. Fränkel, "Eine Stileigenheit der frühgriechischen Literatur," Wege und Formen frühgriechischen Denkens. 2nd ed. Munich 1960. Fundamental on archaic style. On the broader question of archaic style, see further von Groningen 1958 and Thalmann 1984.

Rosen 1962. Haiim B. Rosén, Eine Laut- und Formenlehre der Herodotischen Sprachform. Heidelberg.

Slings 2002. Simon R. Slings, “Oral Strategies in the Language of Herodotus.” In Bakker et al. 2002.

Herodotus’ First Sentence and proem

Bakker 2002. Egbert J. Bakker, “The Making of History: Herodotus’s Historiês Apodexis.” In Bakker et al. 2002.

Erbse 1956. H. Erbse,"Das erste Satz im Werke Herodots," in Erbse, ed. Festschrift Bruno Snell. Munich.

Hommel 1981. H. Hommel, "Herodots Einleitungssatz: ein Schlüssel zur Analyse des Gesamtwerks?" in G. Kurz et al. (eds.) Gnomosyne: Menschliches Denken und Handeln in der frühgriechischen Literatur (Munich, 1981) 271-87.

Krischer 1965. T. Krischer, "Herodots Prooimion," Hermes 93 (1965) 159-167.

Pellicia 1992. Hayden Pellicia, “Sappho 16, Gorgias’ Helen, and the preface to Herodotus’ Histories,” YCS 29: 63-84.

Wecowski 2004. M. Wecowski, “The Hedgehog and the Fox: Form and Meaning in the Prolog of Herodotus.” Journal of Hellenic Studies 124: 143-64.

Composition and structure of the Histories

Cagnazzi 1975. Silvana Cagnazzi, "Tavola dei 28 Logoi di Erodoto," Hermes 103 (1975) 421-423. Fundamental on the question of the exact delimitation of the logoi.

Evans 1991. J. A. S. Evans, "Oral Tradition in Herodotus," Herodotus, Explorer of the Past (Princeton 1991) 89-146.

Fowler 2007. Robert L. Fowler, “Early Historie and Literacy.” In Luraghi 2007.

Flory 1980. Stewart Flory, "Who Read Herodotus' Histories?" AJPh 101 (1980) 14, 28.

*van Groningen 1958. B. van Groningen, La composition littéraire archaïque grecque. Amsterdam.

*Immerwahr 1966. H. R. Immerwahr, Form and Thought in Herodotus (Cleveland 1966).

Johnson 1994. William A. Johnson, "Oral Performance and the Composition of Herodotus’ Histories," GRBS 35: 229-254.

Konstan 1983. D. Konstan, "The Stories in Herodotus’ Histories, Book I," Helios 10: 1-22.

Lattimore 1958. Richmond Lattimore, "The Composition of the History of Herodotus," CP 53 (1958) 9-21.

Luraghi 2009. “The Importance of being λόγιος,” CW 102.

Munson, 1993. Rosaria Vignolo Munson, "Herodotus' Use of Prospective Sentences and the Story of Rhampsinitus and the Thief in the Histories," AJPh 114 (1993) 27-44.

Nagy 1987. Gregory Nagy, "Herodotus the Logios," Arethusa 20 (1987) 175-184, esp. 180-181. [See also, in the same volume, the criticism of Nagy's article by Mabel L. Lang, 203-205, esp. 204 (on Herodotus' use of logios) and W. Robert Connor, 255-266; for Nagy's reply, 209-210. Cf. also Nagy's restatement in Pindar's Homer: The Lyric Possession of an Epic Past (Baltimore 1990) 221-224; and the reevaluation in Luraghi 2009.]

Pearce, 1981. T. E. V. Pearce, "'Epic Regression' in Herodotus," Eranos 79 (1981) 89-90.

Thalmann 1984. Conventions of Form and Thought in early Greek Epic Poetry. Baltimore. Does not speak directly to Herodotus, but important background on archaic principles of structure. Cf. esp. chap. 1: "The Organization of Thought."

*Wood 1972. Henry Wood, The Histories of Herodotus: An Analysis of the Formal Structure. The Hague. Extremely clear and insightful for matters of structure and narrative method (even if W. also sometimes gets a bit carried away). Highly recommended.

Narratology and Narrative

Baragwanath  2008. Emily Baragwanath. Motivation and Narrative in Herodotus. Oxford.

Brock 2003. Roger Brock, “Authorial Voice and Narrative Management in Herodotus.” In Derow and Parker 2003.

Chamberlain 2001. David Chamberlain, “‘We the Others’: Interpretive Community and Plural Voice in Herodotus,” CA 20 (2001): 5-34.

Dewald 1987. Carolyn Dewald, “Narrative Surface and Authorial Voice in Herodotus’ Histories,” Arethusa 20: 147-70.

Dewald 1999. Carolyn Dewald, “The Figured Stage: Focalizing the Initial Narratives of Herodotus and Thucydides,” in T. M. Falkner et al., Contextualizing Classics: Ideology, Performance, Dialogue (Oxford), 221-52.

Dewald 2002. Carolyn Dewald, “‘I didn’t give my own genealogy’: Herodotus and the authorial persona,” In Bakker et al. 2002.

de Jong 2001. Irene J. F. de Jong, “The Anachronical Structure of Herodotus’ Histories,” in S. J. Harrison, Texts, Ideas, and the Classics (Oxford), 93-116.

de Jong 2002. Irene J. F. de Jong, “Narrative Unity and Units.” in Bakker et al. 2002.

de Jong 2004. Irene J. F. de Jong, “Herodotus.” In de Jong, R. Nünlist, A. M. Bowie, Narrators, Narratees and Narrative in Ancient Greek Literature vol. 1 (Leiden) 101-14.

Lang 1984. Mabel Lang, Herodotean Narrative and Discourse. Cambridge, Mass.

Lowe 2000. N. J. Lowe. The Classical Plot and the Invention of Western Narrative. Cambridge.

Luraghi 2006. Nino Luraghi, “Meta-historie: Method and genre in the Histories.” In Dewald and Marincola 2006.

Marincola 1987. John Marincola, “Herodotean Narrative and the Narrator’s Presence,” Arethusa 20: 121-138.

Pelling 2006. “Speech and Narrative in the Histories.” In Dewald and Marincola 2006.

Inherited Traditions: Antecedents and Origins

Aly 1921. Volksmärchen, Sage und Novelle bei Herodot und seinen Zeitgenossen: Eine Untersuchung über die volkstümlichen Elemente der altgriechischen Prosaerzählung. Göttingen. Repr. 1969 with corr.

Armayor 1977. O. K. Armayor, "The Homeric Influence on Herodotus’ Story of the Labyrinth," CB 54: 68-72.

Bertelli 2007. Lucio Bertelli. “Hecataeus: From Geneaology to Historiography.” In Luraghi 2007.

Bichler 2000. Reinhold Bichler, Herodots Welt: der Aufbau der Historie am Bild der fremden Länder und Völker, ihrer Zivilisation und ihrer Geschichte.

Boedeker 2000. Deborah Boedeker, “Herodotus’s Genre(s).” In M. Depew & Dirk Obbink, Matrices of Genre, Authors, Canons and Society (Cambridge MA) 97-114.

Bowie 2007. “Ancestors of Historiography in Early Greek Elegiac and Iambic Poetry?” In Luraghi 2007.

Brown 1954. T. S. Brown, "Herodotus and his Profession," AHR 59: 829-43.

Chaisson 2003. C. C. Chaisson, “Herodotus’ Use of Attic Tragedy in the Lydian Logos,” Classical Antiquity 22: 5-35.

Cook 1976. A. Cook, "Herodotus: The Act of Inquiry as a Liberation from Myth," Helios 3.23-66.

Dihle 1962. A. Dihle, “Herodot und die Sophistik,” Philologus 106: 207-20. Cited by Thomas 2000 as still the most “brilliant” treatment of the subject.

Dorati 2000. Marco Dorati, Le Storie di Erodoto: etnografia e racconto. Pisa.

Drews 1973. R. Drews, The Greek Accounts of Eastern History, Cambridge, Mass.

Evans 1980. J. A. S. Evans, "Oral Tradition in Herodotus," Can. Oral Hist. Assoc. Journal 4: 8-16 [Difficult to obtain: ask to borrow waj’s xerox.]

Finley 1975 M. I. Finley, "Myth, Memory, and History," in The Use and Abuse of History, 11-33.

Fowler 1996. Robert Fowler, “Herodotos and his contemporaries,” JHS 116: 62-87.

Fowler 2000. Robert L. Fowler Early Greek Mythographers. Vol. 1: Texts. Oxford.

Fowler 2006. Robert Fowler, “Herodotus and his Prose Predecessors.” In Dewald and Marincola 2006. Includes select bibliography for the minor figures.

von Fritz 1967, Die griechische Geschichtsschreibung. Berlin.

Gentili & Cerri 1978. "Written and Oral Communication in Greek Historiographical Thought," in E. A. Havelock and J. P. Hershbell, edd. Communication Arts in the Ancient World, 137-55.

Herington 1991a. C. John Herington, "The Closure of Herodotus’ Histories”ICS 16: 149-160.

Herington 1991b. C. John Herington, "The Poem of Herodotus," Arion n.s. 1 (1991) 5-16.

Hunter 1982. V. Hunter, Past and Process in Herodotus and Thucydides. Princeton.

Lasserre 1976. F. Lasserre, "L’historiographie grecque à l’époque archaique," QS 4: 113-42.

Lendle 1992. O. Lendle, Einführung in die griechische Geschichtsschreibung. Darmstadt. (Hecataeus, Acusilaus, Pherecydes, Xanthus, Ion)

Lloyd in Asheri 2007. See his introduction on the relationship between certain ideas in Herodotus Book II and in the early Greek philosophers.

Mandell 1993. Sara Mandell, The Relationship between Herodotus’ History and Primary History. Atlanta, Ga.

Marincola 2006. John Marincola, “Herodotus and the Poetry of the Past.” In Dewald and Marincola 2006.

Momigliano 1961. A. Momigliano, "Historiography on Written Tradition and Historiography on Oral Tradition," Atti della Accademia delle Scienze di Torini 96: 1-12. (Repr. in Studies in Historiography.)

Momigliano 1978a. A. Momigliano, "Greek Historiography," History and Theory 17: 1-28.

Murray 2007. Oswyn Murray, “Herodotus and Oral History” and “Herodotus and Oral History reconsidered.” In Luraghi 2007, pp. 16-44 and 314-325. A magisterial pair of essays.

Nestle 1908. W. Nestle. Herodots Verständnis zur Philosophie und Sophistik. Schüontal. The fundamental collection of evidence on verbal and thematic echoes between Herodotus and the pre-Socratics and early sophists.

Pearson 1939. Lionel Pearson, Early Ionian Historians (Oxford 1939)

Pearson 1941. "Credulity and Skepticism in Herodotus," TAPA 72: 333-355. Pedestrian analysis, but useful nonetheless, esp. for earlier bibliography on the topic.

Pohlenz 1937. Max Pohlenz, Herodot, erste Geschichtsschreiber des Abendlandes (Leipzig and Berlin 1937).

Raaflaub 2002. Kurt A. Raaflaub, “Philosophy, Science, Politics: Herodotus and the Intellectual Trends of his Time,” in Bakker et al. 2002.

Redfield 1985. J. Redfield, "Herodotus the Tourist," CP 80: 97-118.

Romm 1992. James Romm, The Edges of the Earth in Ancient Thought: Geography, Exploration, and Fiction. Princeton, 1992.

Rosenmeyer 1982. Thomas G. Rosenmeyer, "History or Poetry? The Example of Herodotus." CLIO 113 (1982) 239-59.

Shrimpton 1997. G. Shrimpton, History and Memory in Ancient Greece. Montreal. Appendix 1 collects the source citations in Herodotus. For an interestingly different list of source citations, see also Jacoby 1913, 398ff.

Strasburger 1972. H. Strasburger, Homer und die Geschichtsschreibung. Heidelberg.

Strasburger 1975. Die Wesensbestimmung der Geschichte durch die antike Geschichtsschreibung. 3rd edition. Wiesbaden.

*Thomas 2000. Rosalind Thomas, Herodotus in context: ethnography, science and the art of persuasion. Cambridge.

Thomas 2006. Rosalind Thomas, “The intellectual milieu of Herodotus.” In Dewald and Marincola 2006.

Verdin 1977. Herman Verdin, "Les remarques critiques d’Hérodote et de Thucydide sur la poésie en tant que source historique," Symbolae 6: 53-76. An examination at times interesting, and a good source for early bibliography on the influence of poetry on early history.

Weiler 1968. Ingomar Weiler, "Greek and Non-Greek World in the Archaic Period," GRBS 9: 21-29. Survey of the scanty evidence before Herodotus; rather banal.

West 1991. Stephanie West, “Herodotus’ Portrait of Hecataeus.” JHS 111: 144-60.

Sources and Authority — the “Liar School”

Armayor 1978. O. K. Armayor, "Did Herodotus ever go to the Black Sea?" HSCP 82: 45-62.

Armayor 1978a, "Herodotus’ Catalogues of the Persian Empire," TAPA 108: 1-9.

Armayor 1980. "Sesostris and Herodotus’ Autopsy of Thrace, Colchis, Inland Asia Minor, and the Levant," HSCP 84: 51-74.

Armayor 1985. O. Kimball Armayor, Herodotus' autopsy of the Fayoum : Lake Moeris and the Labyrinth of Egypt . Amsterdam.

Boedecker 2000. Deborah Boedecker, “Herodotus’s Genre(s).” In M. Depew & Dirk Obbink, Matrices of Genre, Authors, Canons and Society (Cambridge MA) 97-114.

Brown 1962. T. S. Brown, "Herodotus speculates about Egypt," AJP 86: 60-?.

Cobet 1974. J. Cobet, Herodots Exkurse und die Frage der Einheit seines Werkes. Historia Einzelschriften 17. Wiesbaden.

Dally 2003. Stephanie Dally, “Why did Herodotus not Mention the Hanging Gardens of Babylon?” In Derow and Parker 2003.

*Fehling 1989. Detlev Fehling, Herodotus and his "Sources" (trans. J. G. Howie, Leeds 1989; published in German in 1971).

Gill & Wiseman 1993. Christopher Gill and T. P. Wiseman, Lies and Fiction in the Ancient World. Exeter.

Moles 1992. J. L. Moles, “Truth and Untruth in Herodotus and Thucydides.” In C. Gill and P. Wisemen, eds., Lies and Fiction in the Ancient World. Exeter. 88-121.

*Pritchett 1993. W. K. Pritchett, The Liar School of Herodotus (Amsterdam 1993) [supersedes Pritchett 1982?]

Shimron 1973. B. Shimron, "prôtos tôn hêmeis idmen," Eranos 71: 45-?.

Starr 1968. C. P. Starr, "Ideas of Truth in Early Greece," La parola del passato 23: 348-59.

West 1985. S. West, "Herodotus’ Epigraphical Interests," CQ 35: 278-305.

Ethnicity and Identity — Constructions of World and Self in the Histories

Bakker et al. 2002. See section on “History and Ethnography.”

Gehrke 2007. Hans-Joachim Gehrke, “Myth, History, and Collective Identity: Uses of the Past in Ancient Greece and Beyond.” In Luraghi 2007.

*Hartog 1988. François Hartog, The Mirror of Herodotus (trans. Janet Lloyd, Berkeley 1988; published in French in 1980). See review by Carolyn Dewald in CP 85 (1990) 217-24.

Hazewindus 2004. Minke W. Hazewindus, When Women Interfere: Studies in the Role of Women in Herodotus’ Histories. Amsterdam.

Malkin 2001. Irad Malkin. Ancient Perceptions of Greek Ethnicity. Cambridge MA.

Munson 2001. Rosaria Vignolo Munson. Telling Wonders: Ethnographic and Political Discourse in the Work of Herodotus. Ann Arbor.

Munson 2005. Rosaria Vignolo Munson. Black Doves Speak: Herodotus and the Languages of Barbarians. Center for Hellenic Studies 9. Cambridge MA.

Pelling 1997. C. B. R. Pelling, “East is east and west is west — or are they? National stereotypes in Herodotus,” Histos 1 = http://www.dur.ac.uk/Classics/histos/1997

Rossellini and Saïd 1978. “Usages des femmes et autres nomoi chez les ‘sauvages’ d’Hérodote: Essai de lecture structurale.” ASNSP 8 (1978) 949-1005.

Discussion Questions for Herodotus Books 6 & 7

Dear fellow Herodoteans,

Here are some discussion questions to help you think through Books 6 & 7.  Exciting stuff here.



Herodotus Book Six Discussion Questions

1. In Book VI ch. 30, Histiaeus’ end at the hands of Artaphrenes and Harpagos is related in gruesome but cursory fashion:  “they took him to Sardis and there hanged him from a stake.  But they embalmed his head and brought it to King Darius in Susa” (p. 437).  Just prior to this remark, Herodotus himself tells the reader that in his opinion “if, after being captured alive, Histiaeos had been taken to Darius, I suppose that Darius would have forgiven him for his offense and that he would have suffered no harm” (437).  Knowing what we know about Darius in the Histories, would that be an accurate prediction?  Why does Herodotus feel this way and what evidence from earlier in our reading could support his assertion?

2.  In chs. 51-55, Herodotus digresses on the origins of the Spartan dual kingship.  He comments on both the Spartan version and the common Greek traditional version.  What are we to make of the story?  Is Herodotus favoring one or the other?  Are there other versions deliberately not mentioned by Herodotus?  Why does Herodotus suddenly proclaim: “let that be the extent of what is said on this topic” (449)?

3.  In ch. 84, Herodotus presents various views on the Spartan king Kleomenes’ madness and eventual death.  After presenting the Argive and Spartan explanations, Herodotus claims: “For myself, I think that the best explanation is that Kleomenes was punished for his treatment of Demaratos” (460).  What does this say about Herodotus’ judgment?  Is he taking sides or does he have justification, according to his evidence, that his assertion has credence?  What does this remark say about Herodotus’ regard for history in general?

4.  Herodotus uses 94 chapters to set the stage for one of the most important battles in history.  Given the actual details of the battle, why does Herodotus not go into more detail about the individuals and events on the battlefield?  How does Herodotus contrast the Athenians to the Persians in this conflict?  How is Sparta compared/contrasted with Athens?  Persia??

5.  Ch. 121 just seems to leap out of nowhere.  After a description of the battle of Marathon and Sparta’s late arrival, Herodotus seems eager to address the veracity of Alkmeonid treachery against Athens:  “I am astonished by that story about the Alcmeonids” (478).  He then goes on to elaborate on the Alcmeonid clan, seemingly making an appeal for them, through chapter 131.  How convincing is his defense?  Why does Herodotus make this appeal here?  What sort of tensions are betrayed in Herodotus’ words that show the movement between myth and history, fact and fiction?

Book 7 Discussion Questions

1.  The decision for the Persians to invade Greece is a highly significant one.  Starting in Book 7, chapter 8, what are Xerxes’ reasons for doing so?  Are they based on national security?  personal revenge?  tradition?  anything else?

After Xerxes’ dreams convince the Persians to invade, does that make Mardonios’ reasons any stronger?  Why or why not?

2.  In chapters 27-29, Pythios voluntarily offers Xerxes a great amount of resources to help the war effort.  Xerxes appreciates the offer, but becomes angry at Pythios soon after (38-39).  Is Xerxes justified in doing so?  Does this story, which surrounds Xerxes’ order to ‘punish’ the Hellespont, show Xerxes’ madness?  wisdom?

3.  The Ancient Greeks believed that “hubris” or ‘overweening pride’ would lead to a just punishment from the gods.  In which instances in Book 7, does Herodotus show Xerxes’ “hubris?”  In which instances is Xerxes prudent?  How does Xerxes compare with his predecessor Darius in balancing “hubris” with prudence?

4.  Before the crossing of the Hellespont, Xerxes and Artabanos have a dialogue that begins with the ‘shortness of human life’ (chs. 46-52).  Both Xerxes and Artabanos have differing views on this and on the coming invasion of Greece.  How does Xerxes justify his position vis-a-vis Artabanos?  Given the situation and regardless of the outcome, do either Xerxes or Artabanos have the stronger argument?

5.  Given Xerxes’ decision to allow the three captured Greek spies to see his whole Persian force (ch. 147), what is Xerxes’ strategy as he approaches Thermopylae?  Even with the exiled Spartan king Demaratos’ advice, what does Xerxes nevertheless cling to as his military advantange?  What advantage to the Greeks is Xerxes constantly overlooking?  Why?

6.  The Delphic oracle predicted for the Spartans that “either their city must be laid waste by the foreigner or a Spartan king be killed” (ch. 220).  Was this the main reason Leonidas decided to remain at Thermopylae?  What other reasons are there?  Was the battle of Thermopylae militarily significant or merely symbolic?

7.  What are your favorite stories from Book 7?  Which, if any, have you heard about before in movies, books or popular media?

13. November 2012 by astipanovic
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