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Histories  
Author Herodotus
Country Greece
Language Ancient Greek
Genre(s) History
Publisher Various
Publication date c.440 BCE
ISBN n/a

The Histories of Herodotus is considered one of the seminal works of history in Western literature. Written from the 450s to the 420s BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek, The Histories serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that were known in the Mediterranean and Asia at that time. It is not an impartial record but it remains one of the West's most important sources regarding these affairs. Moreover, it established without precedent the genre and study of history in the Western world, although historical records and chronicles existed beforehand.

Perhaps most importantly, it stands as one of the first, and surviving, accounts of the rise of the Persian Empire, the events of, and causes for, the Greco-Persian Wars between the Achaemenid Empire and the Greek city-states in the 5th century BC. 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.

Herodotus seems to have travelled extensively around the ancient world, conducting interviews and collecting stories for his book. At the beginning of The Histories, Herodotus sets out his reasons for writing it:

This is the showing-forth of the inquiry of Herodotus of Halicarnassus, so that neither what has come to be from man in time might become faded, nor that great and wondrous deeds, those shown forth by Greeks and those by barbarians, might be without their glory; and together with all this, also through what cause they warred with each other.

The Histories was at some point through the ages divided into the nine books of modern editions, conventionally named after the Muses. The Histories contains a famous account of the Battle of Marathon, of which Herodotus wrote:

So when the battle was set in array, and the victims showed themselves favourable, instantly the Athenians, so soon as they were let go, charged the barbarians at a run. Now the distance between the two armies was little short of eight furlongs. The Persians, therefore, when they saw the Greeks coming on at speed, made ready to receive them, although it seemed to them that the Athenians were bereft of their senses, and bent upon their own destruction; for they saw a mere handful of men coming on at a run without either horsemen or archers. Such was the opinion of the barbarians; but the Athenians in close array fell upon them, and fought in a manner worthy of being recorded.

translation, George Rawlinson

Contents

Storyline

Book I (Clio)

View of Delphi, looking down from the theater.
  • The rulers of Lydia (on the west coast of modern Turkey): Candaules, Gyges, Sadyattes, Alyattes, Crœsus (6–7)
  • How Gyges took the kingdom from Candaules (8–13)
  • The singer Arion's ride on the dolphin (23–24)
  • Solon's answer to Crœsus's question that Tellus was the happiest person in the world (29–33)
  • Crœsus's efforts to protect his son Atys, his son's accidental death by Adrastus (34–44)
  • Crœsus's test of the oracles (46–54)
  • The answer from the Oracle of Delphi concerning whether Crœsus should attack the Persians (famous for its ambiguity): If you attack you will destroy a mighty empire (55–56)
  • Peisistratos' rises and falls from power as tyrant of Athens (59–64)
  • The rise of Sparta (65–68)
  • Crœsus's defeat by Cyrus II of Persia, and how he later became Cyrus's advisor (70–92)
  • The rulers of the Medes: Deioces, Phraortes, Cyaxares, Astyages, Cyrus II of Persia (95–144)
  • The rise of Deioces over the Medes
  • Astyages's attempt to destroy Cyrus, and Cyrus's rise to power
  • Harpagus tricked into eating his son, his revenge against Astyages by assisting Cyrus
  • The culture of the Persians
  • The history and geography of the Ionians, and the attacks on it by Harpagus
  • Pactyes' convinces the Lydians to revolt. Rebellion fails and he seeks refuge from Mazares in Cyme (Aeolis)
  • The culture of Assyria, especially the design and improvement of the city of Babylon and the ways of its people
  • Cyrus's attack on Babylon, including his revenge on the river Gyndes and his famous method for entering the city
  • Cyrus's ill-fated attack on the Massagetæ

Book II (Euterpe)

Statue of the Egyptian goddess Hathor.

Book III (Thalia)

The ruins of Persepolis, capital of the Persian Empire.

Book IV (Melpomene)

Scythian warriors, drawn after figures on an electrum cup from the Kul'Oba kurgan burial near Kerch (Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg).

Book V (Terpsichore)

Statue of Athena, the patron goddess of Athens.

Book VI (Erato)

  • The fleeing of Histiaeus to Chios
  • The training of the Ionian fleet by Dionysius of Phocaea
  • The abandonment of the Ionian fleet by the Samians during battle
  • The defeat of the Ionian fleet by the Persians
  • The capture and death of Histiaeus by Harpagus
  • The invasion of Greece under Mardonius and enslavement of Macedon
  • The destruction of 300 ships in Mardonius's fleet near Athos
  • The order of Darius that the Greeks provide him earth and water, in which most consent, including Aegina
  • The Athenian request for assistance of Cleomenes of Sparta in dealing with the traitors
  • The history behind Sparta having two kings and their powers
  • The dethronement of Demaratus, the other king of Sparta, due to his supposed false lineage
  • The arrest of the traitors in Aegina by Cleomenes and the new king Leotychides
  • The suicide of Cleomenes in a fit of madness, possibly caused by his war with Argos, drinking unmixed wine, or his involvement in dethroning Demaratus
  • The battle between Aegina and Athens
  • The taking of Eretria by the Persians after the Eretrians sent away Athenian help
  • Pheidippides's encounter with the god Pan on a journey to Sparta to request aid
  • The assistance of the Plataeans, and the history behind their alliance with Athens
  • The Athenian win at the Battle of Marathon, led by Miltiades and other strategoi
  • The Spartans late arrival to assist Athens
  • The history of the Alcmaeonidae and how they came about their wealth and status
  • The death of Miltiades after a failed attack on Paros and the successful taking of Lemnos

Book VII (Polymnia)

  • The amassing of an army by Darius after learning about the defeat at Marathon
  • The quarrel between which son should succeed Darius in which Xerxes I of Persia is chosen
  • The death of Darius in 486 BC
  • The defeat of the Egyptian rebels by Xerxes
  • The advice given to Xerxes on invading Greece: Mardonius for invasion, Artabanus against (9-10)
  • The dreams of Xerxes in which a phantom frightens him and Artabanus into choosing invasion
  • The preparations for war, including a canal and bridge across the Hellespont
  • The offer by Pythius to give Xerxes all his money, in which Xerxes rewards him
  • The request by Pythius to allow one son to stay at home, Xerxes' anger, and the march out between the butchered halves of Pythius's son
  • The destruction and rebuilding of the bridges built by the Egyptians and Phoenicians at Abydos
  • The siding with Persia of many Greek states, including Thessaly, Thebes, Melia, and Argos
  • The refusal of aid after negotiations by Gelo of Syracuse, and the refusal from Crete
  • The destruction of 400 Persian ships due to a storm
  • The small Greek force (appox. 6000) led by Leonidas I, sent to Thermopylae to delay the Persian army (~5,283,220 (Herodotus) )
  • The Battle of Thermopylae in which the Greeks hold the pass for 3 days
  • The secret pass divulged by Ephialtes of Trachis in which Hydarnes uses to lead forces around the mountains to encircle the Greeks
  • The retreat of all but the Spartans, Thespians, and Thebans (forced to stay by the Spartans).
  • The Greek defeat and order by Xerxes to remove Leonidas' head and attach his torso to a cross

Book VIII (Urania)

A Greek trireme
  • Greek fleet is led by Eurybiades, a Spartan
  • The destruction by storm of two hundred ships sent to block the Greeks from escaping
  • The retreat of the Greek fleet after word of a defeat at Thermopylae
  • The supernatural rescue of Delphi from a Persian attack
  • The evacuation of Athens assisted by the fleet
  • The reinforcement of the Greek fleet at Salamis Island, bringing the total ships to 378
  • The destruction of Athens by the Persian land force after difficulties with those who remained
  • The Battle of Salamis, the Greeks have the advantage due to better organization, and less loss due to ability to swim
  • The description of the Angarum, the Persian riding post
  • The rise in favor of Artemisia, the Persian woman commander, and her council to Xerxes in favor returning to Persia
  • The vengeance of Hermotimus, Xerxes' chief eunuch, against Panionius
  • The attack on Andros by Themistocles, the Athenian fleet commander and most valiant Greek at Salamis
  • The escape of Xerxes and leaving behind of 300,000 picked troops under Mardonius in Thessaly
  • The ancestry of Alexander I of Macedon, including Perdiccas
  • The refusal of an attempt by Alexander to seek a Persian alliance with Athens

Book IX (Calliope)

The Serpent Column dedicated by the victorious Greeks
  • The second taking of an evacuated Athens
  • The evacuation to Thebes by Mardonius after the sending of Lacedaemonian troops
  • The slaying of Masistius, leader of the Persian cavalry, by the Athenians
  • The warning from Alexander to the Greeks of an impending attack
  • The death of Mardonius by Aeimnestus
  • The Persian retreat to Thebes where they are afterwards slaughtered (Battle of Plataea)
  • The description and dividing of the spoils
  • The speedy escape of Artabazus into Asia.
  • The Persian defeat in Ionia by the Greek fleet, and the Ionian revolt
  • The mutilation of the wife of Masistes ordered by Amestris, wife of Xerxes
  • The death of Masistes after his intent to rebel
  • The Athenian blockade of Sestos and the capture of Artayctes

Translations of the Histories

See also

External links

References


Simple English

Histories  
Author Herodotus
Country Greece
Language Ancient Greek
Genre(s) History
Publisher Various
Make date c.440 BCE
ISBN n/a

The Histories of Herodotus of Halicarnassus is considered the first work of history in Western literature. Written about 440 BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek, The Histories tells the story of the Greco-Persian Wars between the Achaemenid Empire and the Greek city-states in the 5th century BC.








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