Background commentary critical edition herodotus history new norton selection translation

His long narrative, titled by modern convention The Histories, begins with the earliest traditions he believed reliable. It ends with a highly colored account of the defeat of the Persian emperor Xerxes and his immense army of slaves by a much smaller number of Greeks fighting to preserve their freedom. Herodotus wrote history, but his methods and assumptions were not those of a modern historian, and his work was unjustly rejected by his successor Thucydides as factually highly unreliable and full of inappropriate romance. By his own admission, Herodotus retold the stories of other peoples without necessarily believing them all.

This allowed him total artistic freedom and control to create a picture of the world that corresponded entirely to his own view of it.


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The result is a picture of Herodotus's world that is also a picture of his mind and, therefore, of many other Greek minds during the period known as "late Archaic. Traditional beliefs in the gods of Homer and in their Oracles, especially the Oracle at Delphi, also dominated during this period. The literary genius of Herodotus consisted in the art of the storyteller. The stories he chose to tell, and the order in which he told them, provide his readers with a total view of his world and the way in which the will of the gods and the ambitions of humans interacted to produce what is known as history.

- The Histories (Norton Critical Editions) by Herodotus

For this reason the ancient critic Longinus justly called Herodotus "the most Homeric of all authors. But, in place of Homer's divine inspiration, Herodotus used his eyes and ears and wrote not poetry but prose. Rejecting what is commonly known as myth, he accepted instead "oral tradition" about remembered events. For example, although he believed that the Trojan War had been fought, he could not investigate it beyond what the poets had said.

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In his view this "ancient history" of the Greeks and the peoples of Asia was not like contemporary history, because the heroes of old who had created it were beings of a different and superior order who had had a different, direct, and personal relationship with the gods.

There is evidence that he declaimed them orally to audiences in rather formal performances, more like modern dramatic readings than reading silently to oneself. There is also a very interesting online version by Shlomo Felberbaum, available at [ He made over to Eurybiades five talents out of the thirty paid him, which he gave as if they came from himself; He gave a share - five talents - of the money to Eurybiades, as though the money came from himself.

He took three hundred pounds of this silver and gave it to Eurybiades as it if were actually coming from himself.

The Histories

Many sections are left out, for example most of Book IX, which gives some of the links with the events later taken up by Thucydides. If you want to read all of Herodotus you won't get it in this translation, which is why I gave it four stars rather than five. On the plus side, the background and commentary selections are very informative and helpful, and are alone well worth the price of the book.

November 30, - Published on Amazon. I always thought delving into Herodotus would be like pulling teeth.

Herodotus & the Scythians (Herodotus’ Histories Book 4)

But after reading other reviews of the Norton Edition, I opted to purchase a copy. What a rich source of information! From the origin of the term "sissies," to triremes, to Xerxes ordering the flogging, fettering, branding and cursing of the Hellespont, this has been a most enjoyable reading adventure.

I plan to re-read it many times. February 24, - Published on Amazon. If either "The English Patient" or "" peaked your interest in Herodotus and Greek history, you couldn't do much better than this version, with a great deal to say about the first historian, or the first gossip columnist.

The Histories: A Norton Critical Edition

If you didn't find time to read Herodotus as an undergraduate, it's never too late, since he is as readable as ever. A good read for a non-Historian. October 25, - Published on Amazon. This book is exactly what I was looking for, a history written 2, plus years ago,in modern,comprehendable English. What's the point of struggling through antiquated Victorian or eighteenth century prose? The copy I received was advertised as Used,in acceptable condition.

It looks brand new to me.


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  2. ISBN 10: 0393959465.
  3. Herodotus: The Histories (Norton Critical Editions).
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  6. Green-Earth Used Books. August 7, - Published on Amazon. This is a supurb presentation of the masterpiece of ancient history. The comentaries and backgrounds are especially valuable in developing an appreciation for the richness of our cultural heritage. This should enhance the accessibility of Herodotus to a wide audience. There are no better sources available.