herodotus2 - Man vs Government in Herodotus The Histories...

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The Histories It can be said that the majority of the first six books of Herodotus' The Histories can be divided into two distinct categories: cultural history where Herodotus discusses customs, beliefs, and daily lives of the people of Greece, Egypt, Persia, and other foreign lands; and political history where Herodotus speaks about the governments, kings, leaders, and military actions of the aforementioned lands. However, while these two opposing histories can be separated, they are far from separate, and it is this crossover of peoples and government which makes for some of the most interesting segments of Herodotus' inquiries. As they are his inquiries as he states in the opening line of Book I, though, one can wonder why it is he chooses to continually write about these two opposing groups, and what point he is trying to convey by doing so. It would seem more than likely that his opinion on government would affect and even shape his writings through what he includes and the way he chooses to include it. One such implication which Herodotus seems to make throughout his work is that rulers who are not just are punished in the end, regardless of the abilities or position. One such example is Cambyses dying of a fatal wound in the same spot where he stabbed Apis, the sacred bull. Herodotus probably chose to include this so as to show Cambyses' own mortality and show that leaders are punished for their hubris. Herodotus seems to make a point of showing Cambyses as an unjust leader through his killing of Apis, dealings with the Egyptians, and his killing of his own servants for saving Croesus, so by telling of Cambyses' ironic death by his own sword, Herodotus makes a point of showing that rulers should not abuse their power. This is further reinforced when he tells the story of Oreotes death. After Oreotes has Polycrates murdered in such a way which Herodotus describes as "an end unworthy of his personal distinction and high ambition" (III, 125) Oreotes quickly meets his own end when the Persian king Darius turns Oreotes own men against him, and has Oreotes' own bodyguard murder him on the spot. This is emphasized by Herodotus' descriptions of Croesus who he makes seem like a somewhat
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This essay was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course GH 131 taught by Professor Knowlton during the Fall '08 term at Stonehill.

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herodotus2 - Man vs Government in Herodotus The Histories...

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