Myth, Truth, and Narrative in Herodotus

ISBN : 9780199693979

Emily Baragwanath; Mathieu de Bakker
384 Pages
158 x 224 mm
Pub date
Sep 2012
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Herodotus, the 'Father of History', is infamously known for having employed elements more akin to mythological tales than to unvarnished 'truth' in translating his historical research into narrative form. While these narratives provide valuable source material, he could not have surmised the hostile reception his work would receive in later generations. This mythical aspect of the Histories led many successors, most notoriously Plutarch, to blame Herodotus for spinning far-fetched lies, and to set him apart as an untrustworthy historian. Echoes of the same criticism resounded in twentieth-century scholarship, which found it difficult to reconcile Herodotus' ambition to write historical stories 'as they really happened' with the choices he made in shaping their form. This volume brings together 13 original articles written by specialists in the fields of ancient Greek literature and history. Each article seeks to review, re-establish, and rehabilitate the origins, forms, and functions of the Histories' mythological elements. These contributions throw new light on Herodotus' talents as a narrator, underline his versatility in shaping his work, and reveal how he was inspired by and constantly engaged with his intellectual milieu. The Herodotus who emerges is a Herculean figure, dealing with a vast quantity of material, struggling with it as with the Hydra's many-growing heads, and ultimately rising with consummate skill to the organisational and presentational challenges it posed. The volume ultimately concludes that far from being unrelated to the 'historical' aspects of Herodotus' text, the 'mythic' elements prove vital to his presentation of history.


Preface and Acknowledgments
List of Contributors

Part I: From Myth to Historical Method
1: Myth and Legend in Herodotus' First Book, Carolyn Dewald
2: Herodotus and the 'Myth' of the Trojan War, Suzanne Saïd
3: Herodotus' Proteus: Myth, History, Inquiry and Storytelling, Mathieu de Bakker
4: The Helen logos and Herodotus' Fingerprint, Irene de Jong
5: 'Strangers are from Zeus': Homeric Xenia at the Courts of Proteus and Croesus, Elizabeth Vandiver
6: Herodotus on Melampus, Vivienne J. Gray

Part II: Myth and History
7: Herodotus and the Heroic Age: The Case of Minos, Rosaria V. Munson
8: Myth and Truth in Herodotus' Cyrus Logos, Charles C. Chiasson
9: Herodotus and Eastern Myths and Logoi: Deioces the Mede and Pythius the Lydian, Rosalind Thomas
10: The Mythical Origins of the Medes and the Persians, Pietro Vannicelli
11: Mythology and the Expedition of Xerxes, Angus M. Bowie
12: Returning to Troy: Herodotus and the Mythic Discourse of his Own Time, Emily Baragwanath

General Index
Index Locorum

About the author: 

Emily Baragwanath is Assistant Professor in the Classics Department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on the literary techniques employed by the Greek historians in their construction of historical narratives. Her first book, Motivation and Narrative in Herodotus (Oxford University Press, 2008), won Oxford's Conington Prize and the CAMWS Outstanding Publication Award. At present she is working on the Athenian author Xenophon.; Mathieu de Bakker is University Lecturer in ancient Greek at the University of Amsterdam. His research focuses on Greek historiography and oratory, and he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in Greek language, literature, linguistics, and epigraphy. In 2009 he received the lecturer of the year award from his university.

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