herodotus book 1

herodotus book 1 - Masterpieces of Greek Literature Dr...

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Masterpieces of Greek Literature Dr. Fredricksmeyer Herodotus. The Persian Wars: Background and Book 1 Background Herodotus (480-after 430 BCE) Halicarnassus : very cosmopolitan place widely traveled, especially Egypt Athens under Pericles : very into philosophy medicine history and culture Thurii : helped found this artificially created international city in southern Italy (multi-cultural) ethnography : what the Histories are, a writing about different ethnic groups and sometimes different racial groups, Herodotus is naturally inclined to be a good writer about these things because of his background, where he grew up, his travels, where he spent time etc. all lead to him not judging cultures and understanding that they are all different and not thinking that one culture is superior or inferior to another because he had been exposed to so many. He is also a social historian meaning that he is into looking at history from the bottom up. sources written : from poets who had included elements of history in their poetry and from geographers. Ex. homer personal anecdote: he traveled extensively in Egypt so much of the book is based on his own travels and interviews with people organization-paratactic (associative: he will never go strictly in chronological sequence. Instead he will be talking about something and get to a topic and then digress on that topic and go back in time and give us the history of that topic then keep going forward again) /ring composition probably incomplete : when he says he will get to something later and then never ends up talking about it Herodotus "the father of history" (Cicero -a roman philosopher ) pros as historian- comprehensive and somewhat scientific (very methodical approach) historian empirical : based on observation not just theories, much of what he writes was based on personal observation, drawing from oral history that has been passes down through generations. It is pretty accurate with in 3 generations of the actual event then after that the accuracy sharply declines. concerned with accuracy : cultural relativist : he doesn’t pre-judge cultures, in part thanks to the sophists who highlighted the distinctions between 2 things: our underlying human character that human beings around the world all have in common, nomos is things like customs and laws that can vary from place to place. The sophists stressed that underneath this the underlying nature is all the same. If you share this view you will be less inclined to judge and think
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some cultures are better than others. This was in his nature and the way he was brought up. cons as historian— myth istoricus : he combines myth and history he is both a mythographer and a historian, someone who accepts myth as history yet rational : he accepts homer and Trojan war as historical fact but he treats it rationally saying stuff like yes the Greeks attacked the city of troy but surely it wasn’t just because of a woman. He thinks there must be more to it to make it logical. natural supernaturalism
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herodotus book 1 - Masterpieces of Greek Literature Dr...

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