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
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?
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 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
Book I is often called "Kleio," named for the muse of the past meaning the "Proclaimer" or the "Rejoicer"; literally "to recount" or "to make famous." The Causes of the Persian Wars At the outset, in the proem of Book I of Herodotus's Inquiries, he first identifies himself as the author hailing from Halicarnassus in … Continue reading The Purpose of the Histories: Notes on Book I
Herodotus's Histories, or "Inquiries", traces the conflicts that emerged between the Greeks and the Persians (the Achaemenid Empire), culminating in the great battles of Thermopylae, Salamis, Platea, and Mycale. Herodotus was born in Halicarnassus in Asia Minor, or modern day Bodrum in western Turkey. Much of his life was spent in Exile, living in Samos, Athens, and apparently … Continue reading On Herodotus