Talk:Histories (Herodotus)

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Outline - Request for Feedback[edit]

Am I including too-much/not-enough information in the outline? My intention was twofold: (1) make it easy to find stuff later (e.g., Herodotus's description of Babylon) and (2) to give people a sense of the kind of stuff that he wrote about. Now that this project is underway, it seems to be running rather long. And my brief description don't really convey the (nutty) things that Herodotus wrote about. (Herodotus is really a collection of stories, rather than a "history" in the modern sense, and many of these stories are rather outlandish.) Feedback? Jeffrey L. Whitledge 20:16, 2004 Oct 7 (UTC)

It looks alright so far. If you have the Penguin edition, there is a "map" of sorts in the back, showing all the subjects he talks about, in the proper chronological order...that might help. Adam Bishop 21:32, 8 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I did books 6 & 7 and tried to include all the main facts but also anything mildly interesting or unusual to try and convey some of how Herodotus writes, perhaps a little long but I feel it's informative and, therefore, justified. CeM.
I've gone through and added a few things to 1-4, added 5, and will also add 8 and 9 next week. However, I'd like to trim down 6 & 7 a little bit to get them more inline with the others. These summaries are already pretty long as is. Just a listing of the event should be sufficient, and the articles linked from the list will have the in depth info. Aside from these book summaries, I'd like to see some other info, critical analysis, etc. - such as the kind of stuff you see on Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War. Anyone care to help out with that? - Ravenous 05:42, 12 January 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The "nutty" stories are important, such as the persian who sailed the horn of Africa and had the Sun to the North (which is why Herodotos recorded his skepticism, but why we today are more convinced it was probably true). But what struck me most of all was his approach to history from the ground up, in the most literal sense, by describing geography and climate first as the key determinant of the culture that would develop in that land, which would of course affect history down the track. While Thucidides work showed remarkable insight into people, Herodotos seems to have grasped an ever deeper issue, perhaps yet to be understood by today's politicians as we face the possibility of drastic climate change. But how can we talk about this from a NPOV? David T. Bath 09:32, 3 November 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Opening quote needs better attribution[edit]

I've a 1960 reprint of the 1954 Aubrey de Sélincourt, Penguin Classics translation. And it begins:

In this book, the result of my inquiries into history, I hope to do two things: to preserve the memory of the past by putting on record the astonishing achievements both of our own and of the Asiatic peoples; secondly, and more particularly, to show how the two races came into conflict.

So exactly which version is quoted in the text? --Fuchsia Groan 17:41, 26 June 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I hadn't seen this comment before but it is quite correct. The Aubrey de Selincourt translation is as quoted above, not as quoted in the article. (Incidentally, de Selincourt's version of Herodotus's opening sentence is very, very "free", or [some would say] inaccurate.) Since no one has answered the question, we don't know what translation supplied the quotation in the article. I will take out the attribution to de Selincourt: that's a start. Andrew Dalby 17:02, 4 October 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The attribution to Aubrey de Selincourt has been reinserted into the article, evidently by someone who hasn't read this discussion! My best guess is that the translation quoted is a copy from the current revised Penguin edition of what was originally the de Selincourt translation. Since it differs strongly from (and is more accurate than) what de Selincourt actually wrote, I will amend the article to reflect this guess of mine. If anyone knows better, please alter the article accordingly. Andrew Dalby 12:28, 12 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've fixed the attribution of Herodotus' opening quote in the opening paragraph. It comes from John Marincola's revision of Selincourt's Penguin translation. User:timmy 8:27, 8 February 2009 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

The Original Text?[edit]

Is there any information about the original text? I believe that there is one copy of the original text and it is in Arabic, if anybody knows can you add to this page? User:Sinanozel

No, he was a Greek historian and the original text was in ancient Greek (Ionic dialect). I'll check that the article makes this clear, since you ask. The original text is easily available in print and on the Web. Andrew Dalby 16:55, 4 October 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The article didn't answer your question, did it? Thanks for raising this. I have added the information to the first paragraph. Andrew Dalby 17:12, 4 October 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Good for you trying to be helpful but (a) obviously we need a cite instead of just writing c. 430 BC in 20 places and (b) OP was correct that we don't have a 430 BC copy of the Greek text. The article currently says *nothing* about the historiography and surviving MSS of the work itself, which is obviously critical for assessing it. That oldest surviving text may very well be in medieval Arabic. — LlywelynII 16:14, 11 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]


I added the fact that Pactyes' fled to Cyme (Aeolis) after he was defeated by Mazares. Citation provided as (Herodotus: 1.157) based on the following direct quote:

Pactyes, when he learnt that an army was already on his tracks and near, took fright and fled to Cyme, and Mazares the Mede marched to Sardis with a detachment of Cyrus' troops. Finding Pactyes and his supporters and his supporters gone, the first thing he did was to compel the Lydians to carry out Cyrus' orders - as a result of which they altered from that moment their whole way of life; he then sent a demand to Cyme that Pactyes should be surrendered, and the men of the town decided to consult the oracle at Branchidae as to whether they should obey...The messengers returned home to report, and the citizens of Cyme were prepared in consequence to give up the wanted man. (Herodotus: 1.157)

EDC 1200 assignment[edit]

The Histories by Herodotus is a series of books about the war between Greece and Persia during the 5th century. It is a detailed account of the men that served and the battles that were fought. I found this book on the third floor of Moody Library in the "D" section. If you go to the right it is on the aisle marked between D7-D117 on the top shelf. Patricia New (talk) 04:28, 19 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Where on earth did the connection between the books of the Histories and the nine Muses come from? Additionally, aren't the book divisions post-Herodotean? [[User:timmy] 8:24, 8 February 2009 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

My understanding is that it is indeed a later addition and was not at all original with Herodotus himself, but I have never heard of who actually did it. Most likely, because the "Histories" happened to take up nine scrolls (the "books" that most ancient texts are divided into were originally the separate individual scrolls that they were written on) and since there are nine Muses in mythology, some intrepid librarian or editor at the Library of Alexandria decided it would be a neat idea to name each book after one of the Muses. IonNerd (talk) 12:07, 18 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A generalization that may be misleading for readers[edit]

The second paragraph of this article says: "Herodotus portrays the conflict as one between the forces of slavery (the Persians) on the one hand, and freedom (the Athenians and the confederacy of Greek city-states which united against the invaders) on the other."

This statement generalizes the "Histories" far too excessively, in my opinion. A reader who was not previously knowledgeable about the ancient world might assume from that statement that Athens and the other Greek city-states were modern liberal democracies like the United States, whereas the Persian Empire was a totalitarian dictatorship like Nazi Germany. I do not know of any passage in the "Histories" where Herodotus *explicitly* says anything quite like this; it sounds more like a modern reading and viewpoint imposed onto the work.

I believe that this sentence needs to be re-written in a more neutral tone that is not so heavily laden with modern interpretations. Maybe something along these lines: "Herodotus portrays the Greek city-states as fighting for their freedom and independence from the conquering Persian Empire." This would eliminate the metaphorical suggestion that the Greeks were "representatives" of freedom while the Persians were "representatives" of slavery.

From the way that the statement is currently written, its tone seems to imply that the Greeks were fighting for "freedom for everybody", which they were not. Ancient civilizations, including the Greek city-states and the Persian Empire, regularly practised some form of slavery (although it should be noted that ancient slavery was somewhat different from American slavery during the nineteenth century and that its practice varied widely from one ancient people to another). Athens and Sparta were, in fact, the two Greek city-states most dependent on slavery. In the ancient world, those who were already "free" were assumed to have the right to fight to maintain that freedom for themselves; therefore, the "free men" of Athens and the other Greek city-states were fighting to maintain their independence and freedom from Persian imperialism. They were not, however, fighting for "freedom" as an external, objective, and universal ideal. The Greco-Persian Wars were not waged to "spread freedom and democracy for everybody", but rather to maintain that freedom for those that already had it, i.e.: the (already) free citizens of the Greek city-states. From that statement above, a modern reader might easily be lead to believe that the Greeks fought for a "universal" ideal of freedom, but they were actually fighting for a "limited" freedom for themselves from the Persian Empire.

A (very crude) analogy might be made here to the American Revolution, in that it was also a fight for "limited" freedom from the rule of Great Britain; the American colonists were not fighting for universal freedom for every single person living in the British Empire. On the other hand, the American Civil War might be seen as a fight for universal freedom for all people living in the United States of America. In this sense, the Greco-Persian Wars were closer to the Revolution than to the Civil War. But, this article would suggest that the Greco-Persian Wars, as described by Herodotus, were fought for universal freedom for everybody.

The article should just explain what Herodotus wrote as clearly and distinctly as possible, and leave the reader to search out further studies, analyses, and interpretations of the "Histories" and the Greco-Persian Wars on his own. Metaphorical interpretations about the Greek city-states representing "freedom" and the Persian Empire representing "slavery" might belong, for instance, in a separate article on the evolution of the ideal of "freedom" throughout Western history; such an article might describe the influence and contribution of the "Histories" and the Greco-Persian Wars on the development of "freedom" in the modern West. This article here, however, should just adhere to a factual report of the ancient text by Herodotus. IonNerd (talk) 20:12, 17 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I wouldn't say that the wording must be changed, since if it's Herodotus's bias position, but it must be clarified afterwards, that it's just one side slave-owners defending against another side slave-owners. Slave-owners think of themselves as "free people" and depict enemy slave-owners as the ones that will turn them into slaves. Turning whole cities of people from conquered lands into slaves was pretty common with Roman empire (35% of population were slaves), even Osman empire (20% of population), etc.. So Persians were probably thinking the same thing: we're freeing our brethren who were turned into slaves from those horrible forces of slavery (Greek "free people" - slave-owners) and ensuring that that we, the only truly free society (Persian slave-owners), wont become slaves in the future. ^_^ Gendalv (talk) 09:03, 14 July 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Integration of material from another Wikipedia article[edit]

The Wikipedia article on the Battle of Plataea has some great information (all cited appropriately) on Herodotus (in the section called "Sources"):

The main source for the Greco-Persian Wars is the Greek historian Herodotus. Herodotus, who has been called the 'Father of History',[94] was born in 484 BC in Halicarnassus, Asia Minor (then under Persian overlordship). He wrote his 'Enquiries' (Greek—Historia; English—(The) Histories) around 440–430 BC, trying to trace the origins of the Greco-Persian Wars, which would still have been relatively recent history (the wars finally ending in 450 BC).[89] Herodotus's approach was entirely novel, and at least in Western society, he does seem to have invented 'history' as we know it.[89] As Holland has it: "For the first time, a chronicler set himself to trace the origins of a conflict not to a past so remote so as to be utterly fabulous, nor to the whims and wishes of some god, nor to a people's claim to manifest destiny, but rather explanations he could verify personally."[89]
Some subsequent ancient historians, despite following in his footsteps, criticised Herodotus, starting with Thucydides.[95][96] Nevertheless, Thucydides chose to begin his history where Herodotus left off (at the Siege of Sestos), and therefore evidently felt that Herodotus's history was accurate enough not to need re-writing or correcting.[96] Plutarch criticised Herodotus in his essay "On The Malignity of Herodotus", describing Herodotus as "Philobarbaros" (barbarian-lover), for not being pro-Greek enough, which suggests that Herodotus might actually have done a reasonable job of being even-handed.[97] A negative view of Herodotus was passed on to Renaissance Europe, though he remained well read.[98] However, since the 19th century his reputation has been dramatically rehabilitated by archaeological finds which have repeatedly confirmed his version of events.[99] The prevailing modern view is that Herodotus generally did a remarkable job in his Historia, but that some of his specific details (particularly troop numbers and dates) should be viewed with skepticism.[99] Nevertheless, there are still some historians who believe Herodotus made up much of his story.[100]

The Wikipedia article on the Greco-Persian Wars repeats the exact same information.

I think that this information is incredibly relevant to this article here and that someone should try and integrate it in. I would do it myself, but I am not a very skilled writer and editor of Wikipedia; perhaps someone with more experience at using wikis could try. IonNerd (talk) 12:52, 18 September 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Can we move the gold-digging ants section from the Herodotus page to here? --15lsoucy (talk) 22:28, 9 October 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Publication Date[edit]

Why does it say he wrote it from 450-420 BC, but then the small box says it was published in 440 BC?-- (talk) 18:17, 15 October 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

And why now does it say c. 430 BC in 20+ places without a citation for any of them? Good questions all. This article really demands a Dating/MS section. — LlywelynII 16:15, 11 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Confusion of "Io" character[edit]

The Clio speaks of the rape of a woman named "Io," whom I always took to be mortal, but this page links you to the goddess Io. Maybe that's what Herodotus meant? Well, the wikipedia page on Io the goddess says nothing about a rape. Sorry if I've just confused myself, I'm not that familiar with this stuff. Fredo699 (talk) 15:36, 5 April 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Request to add to 'Translations' Section[edit]

I'd like to add Henry Cary's translation from 1849. Seems to be one of the first good translations straight to English rather than from Greek to another language then to English. It is still in print, and has been referred to here ( as being preferable to the Rawlinson, Godley, and de Selincourt versions. Here is the address:

Here is the MLA Citation: Herodotus, , Henry Cary, and Johann C. F. Bähr. Herodotus: A New and Literal Version from the Text of Baehr with a Geographical and General Index. London: Bohn, 1850. Print. [2602:306:cdaf:40e0:1c37:9211:8877:d8b3]

And what was the source of Cary translation?
Translation should not be used here but original oldest sources: papyri or oldest manuscripts. This article abandon sources entirely. From AD. POxy 1375 I, POxy 1375 II, POxy 1619 are from Ic AD to 50+ other P fragments. The oldest manusript 8c AD and 57 other. [1] [2] [3] [unsigned post by]
A) Please remember to sign your posts.
B) 2602..., aside from the obvious mistakes in your MLA cite, we generally don't use it. Instead, the default is to use the {{citation}} template. The Cary translation dates from 2 years earlier and was published by Routledge in a different series from the one listed:
Herodotus; Bähr, Johann Christian Felix (1847), Herodotus: Literally Translated from the Text of Baehr with a Geographical and General Index, Sir John Lubbock's Hundred Books, translated by Cary, Henry Francis, London: George Routledge & Co.
Yeah, it ends up pretty ugly in this format. Debatable whether Bähr's emendations make him a coauthor or an editor; the usual formatting of the template would make it look like he edited Cary's translation instead of editing the Greek text used for a full translation. We could do a |url= link to a version of Cary's translation but the 1847 one doesn't seem to have been uploaded anywhere yet. Google Books' copy is behind its firewall.
C) 99..., you're half right. This article badly needs discussion of the actual sources of the text instead of just repeating the number c. 430 BC 20+ times. On the other hand, there absolutely should be a collection of major English translations provided in the English Wikipedia's article on this major work. We usually do that in a laundry list section towards the bottoms of pages but they could also be left in a line in a Bibliography section and just addressed as appropriate in the History/Reception sections. — LlywelynII 16:49, 11 April 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]