Herodotus's Inquiries is, at root, an inquiry into the ontological status of the Greeks and the Barbarians, the two great empires of antiquity. What delineates the one from the other? How did the East come to be separate from the West? To what extent are they clear and distinct cultures? Herodotus proceeds with this esoteric inquiry … Continue reading Notes on History
Unlike the "archaeology" undertaken by Thucydides, Herodotus gives a survey of cultures and customs across the known world by scribing a book whose purpose is to "show forth" the "causes" of the Persian War so that humans will not forget the deeds of great men. I believe it was Strauss who once remarked in a letter … Continue reading An Inquiry into Herodotus’s Project
In our quest to put the Persian Wars on trial, we find our inquiry focused chiefly on two groups: the Athenians and the Persians, or the Achaemenids. Herodotus, a wandering traveler like Odysseus, identifies the search for the causes of the war as one of main reasons he sets out to write the text. He traces the origins … Continue reading What Was The Cause of The Persian Wars?
Our inquiry into the great books has brought us to the fruits of Herodotus's masterful work praising the greatness of ancient men. Cicero, rather dubiously, once called Herodotus the pater historaie or the "father of history", and also the "father of lies". Even today, many modern scholars and archaeologists venture forth in search of ways to 'disprove' … Continue reading What Is History?
The hero Theseus was rumored to have instilled the democratic sensibilities in Athenians during the Bronze Age when he brought the twelve districts of Attica (an area capable of housing twelve different cities) together and limited the rule of the kings. He recognized certain families as Eupatrid, or "well born" and created the Council of … Continue reading Notes on Athenian Democracy
In Book VII, Herodotus details the anger of Darius who was unable to seek vengeance on Athens and also Egypt that was revolting against the Persians. However, infighting between the sons of Darius began and Xerxes won out, thanks to the superior skills of persuasion he received from a Spartan defector. Xerxes consults with his … Continue reading Xerxes, Thermopylae, and Salamis: Books VII – IX
In Book VI, Herodotus claims that both the Hellenes and the Persians committed great acts of evil against one another -an unbiased claim in his inquiry. If the work was to be considered a work of propaganda to spur the Athenians to rise up (written during the Peloponnesian Wars) one might expect a defense, or apologia, … Continue reading The Battle of Marathon: Book VI
In Book III of Herodotus's Inquiries, we encounter a problem among the Persians. The untimely death of the insane king Cambyses has led to a power vacuum filled by the corrupt Magi. When the Persians finally instill a revolt against the Magi, a conspiracy of seven men decides to storm the palace and regain power. However, … Continue reading Darius and the New Persian Regime
Book III is concerned with the internal battles among the barbarians -a competition for the best of men among the Egyptians and the Persians. Per usual in Herodotus, he presents multiple perspectives and defends one or the other, as in the case of the Greek and Egyptian defense of Helen arriving in Egypt for the … Continue reading Egypt, Persia, and the New Regime: Book III
Book II is often called "Euterpe," named for the muse of the past meaning "rejoicing well" or "delight." In beginning to discuss the much envied empire of the Egyptians, Herodotus opens with an account of the Egyptian quest for origins, not merely their own, but rather for all humans. They had believed themselves to be the … Continue reading The Rise of Egypt: Notes on Book II