Herodotus lived and wrote in the 5th century BCE, at the intersection of Greek and Persian cultures and during a time of extraordinary intellectual curiosity and change. Successive generations have acclaimed him as the world’s first historian and sometimes also the first…
s fragmented and digressing into fable and even those who were prepared to step outside the confines of the thinking of their own era, were often not prepared to make more than small concessions about the possible motives, expertise and literary devices found in The Histories. More recent research , however, suggests that, if understood within the intellectual climate of their time, The Histories reveal themselves as the multi-faceted work of a highly intuitive and progressive thinker, who used the past and the present, to record and draw parallels with the complexity of his own time, and who used a plethora of tools at his disposal to inform of the consequences of reliving the past - these were definitely not the rather clumsy, ‘anachrostic’ efforts of an ancient teller of tall stories (De Jong, I. J. F., 2003). Viewed with an appreciation of 5th century philosophy, science, epic heritage, political currents and literary know-how, The Histories is a historical record of high intellectual quality and significance, largely coherent in its aims and with considerable unity, once literary structures and devices have been understood in their ancient context. Although there is perhaps still much to be discovered, evidenced by the considerable amount of research that is continuing to offer new possibilities of understanding this important text. This on-going curiosity is now extending into a much broader field of inquiry and includes research into the uses of language, narration, moral, ethical and judicial concepts, as well as general themes, although the focus of the research has shifted and is no longer done to establish coherence, but aims instead to demonstrate the multiplicity of creative devices that Herodotus had at his disposal.
Interest in The Histories has continued throughout the ages and the critiques of Thucydides and Aristotle were followed by others, classical scholars of the first few centuries CE and again, after the so-called dark ages. Given the ...
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