QUESTIONS FOR HERODOTUS’ THE HISTORIES
I. Who is Herodotus’s intended audience? Why was it written? A. His intended audience was the Greeks.
B. It was written to tell the story of the Pelopensisan War C. Written to cover the conquests of Cyrus as he takes over much of the known world by ruling the Persian Empire. D. Herodotus was half Greek and half Persian
E. He intended his work to undermine Hellenic ethnocentricity -- to open the Greek mind to to the rich diversity of the surrounding world and to make his fellow Hellenes Aware that theirs was not the only way of viewing the World F. He wrote this so the action s of people shall not fade with time, so that the great and admirable moments produced by both Greeks and barbarians shall not go un-renowned, and among other things, to set forth the reasons why they waged war on each other.
II. Is Herodotus’s narrative believable? Yes? No? Depends? Give examples concerning your position. A. Yes, it is a primary source.
B. He fought in the war, he interviewed people, and was written in first hand accounts.
III. Pride figures prominently at various points in Herodotus’s narrative. What is he trying to tell his reader about pride? Use appropriate examples. A. He held the Greek belief that pride goes before the inevitable fall. B. Pride will ultimately end in one’s demise.
IV. Luck figures prominently at various points in Herodotus’s narrative. What is he trying to tell his reader about luck? A. He had a caution not to pronounce people lucky until their lives have run their full course is also firmly grounded in Greek thinking
V. How does Herodotus view the Persian people? Discuss their politics, customs, and society. Do you think he is accurate? A. He appreciated their cultures and values
B. He loved them, was called a barb-lover
C. He liked their Monarchy
VI. How does Herodotus view the Egyptians? Discuss how he understands their relationship to the Greeks. How do you think his intended audience would have felt about his long discussion of Egypt. A. Said the Egyptians were peculiar
B. The great historian said "the Egyptians themselves in their manners and customs seem to have reversed the ordinary practices of mankind" (p. 98 The Histories.) C. Herodotus went on to describe how the women worked and the men were priests; how they wrote from right to left, which is completely backwards. D. Opposite to the customs of the Greeks, they ate outside and went to the bathroom inside. E. They even lived with their animals. How outrageous!
F. Herodotus compared these actions to those of the rest of the known world, most importantly the Greeks. 1. I began to think that the Egyptians were a strange inferior people, but Herodotus hadn’t finished speaking. G. He never thought that Egypt was inferior, proven in the first paragraph of the lengthy book. "Herodotus of Halicarnassus here displays his inquiry, so that human achievements may not be forgotten in time, and great and marvelous deeds -- some displayed by Greeks, some by barbarians (non-Greeks) -- may not be without their glory..." H. Since the purpose of Herodotus was to glorify human achievements, the fact that he dedicated an entire book to the Egyptians, their customs, and their history demonstrates his obvious esteem for the culture. I. In addition, Herodotus said "About Egypt I shall have a great deal more to relate because of the number of remarkable things which the country contains." (p. 98) J. Thus, though he did state that Egypt was different from the rest of the world, Herodotus did not mean to say the the country was inferior to Greece. K. Egypt was odd, but also that difference was good. He showed the Greeks that there were other ways to write, different clothes to be worn, and different ideas to be thought. His object in writing the book was to show the great aspects of humanity; he himself said so repeatedly throughout the inquiry. Herodotus showed people, myself included, that other...
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