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The Histories (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

Herodotus , Carolyn Dewald , Robin Waterfield
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Book Description

17 April 2008 Oxford World's Classics
Herodotus is not only known as the `father of history', as Cicero called him, but also the father of ethnography; as well as charting the historical background to the Persian Wars, his curiosity also prompts frequent digression on the cultures of the peoples he introduces. While much of the information he gives has proved to be astonishingly accurate, he also entertains us with delightful tales of one-eyed men and gold-digging ants. This readable new translation is supplemented with expansive notes that provide readers the background that they need to appreciate the book in depth.

* Introduction * Textual Note *Bibliography * Chronology * Appendices * Glossary * Maps * Explanatory Notes * Textual Notes * Index of Proper Names
ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks (17 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199535663
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199535668
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13.1 x 3.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 55,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Carolyn Dewald is Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Southern California. Robin Waterfield is a distinguished translator whose version of Plato's Republic has been described as the best available'.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
IN the earliest years of the fifth century BCE, the dominant power in the Greek world was the Persian empire, which stretched from the Mediterranean Sea eastward to India, and from Egypt northward through the Near East to Thrace and modern Afghanistan. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unmissable, eminently readable classic 25 Aug 2009
By reader 451 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
'After the capture of Babylon, Darius invaded Scythia.' Thus commences book four of the Histories, and if these are the kind of words that set your pulse racing, your eyes going all dreamy, this book is for you.

The ancient Greek historian's famous opus has an impressive geographical and chronological spread, and this, together with its precedence over most recovered documents of its type, explains why it is regarded as so important. Herodotus relates over a century of Persian expansion, including the Egyptian and other conquests, from about 600 BC, and of Persian conflict with the Greeks, culminating in his compatriots' victories at Salamis and Platea. As it is explained in the notes and introduction, much of his account has been reaffirmed by modern historical and archaeological research, some of it over earlier condemnations, though much is also being questioned.

Indeed, intriguingly, this rings both as history as we understand it and as something else. Herodotus explicitly aims to make an objective and truthful account, unlike other chroniclers of antiquity (for example Egyptian) driven by religious, political or artistic imperatives. He traces facts to sources and steps back when sources conflict. This is familiar. But in other ways, his book is from a culture very distant from ours. Herodotus believes in oracles, in the premonitory value of dreams. It doesn't shock him that a queen might give birth to a lion, or a god strike down an army to protect a sanctuary. Hubris is always punished, and disregard for the warnings of fate, or the desecration of temples. And descriptions are inflated for effect.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to read. Great translation. 2 Sep 2011
By Nathan
I brought this book because I have a personal interest in the Ancient Greeks. I do not speak or read Ancient Greek and I am not an expert by any means.
Therefore, I found this translation very easy to read and the notes/appendix made the book even better. I'd highly recommend this book to anybody with an interest in Ancient Greece.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Thesaurus of History 26 Mar 2010
When students read Herodotus for the first time, they sometimes object that they are not reading real history, only entertaining stories: e.g., the tale of Gyges, a mere bodyguard who, after being forced by King Candaules to peek at his beautiful wife as she is undressing, murders the king, marries his wife and becomes tyrant of Lydia; or wealthy Croesus, King of Lydia, who keeps pestering the Delphic oracle, finally learning that if he attacks Persia, a Great Empire will fall, a riddle that Croesus does not understand until he has been ensconced on his own funeral pyre by Cyrus, King of Persia; or Cleisthenes, Tyrant of Sicyon, who throws a big engagement party for his daughter, Agariste, only to have one of her suitors, Hippocleides, shock the guests by performing gleeful handstands (in his little short skirt) on a table, when he loses out to Megacles of Athens. Such delightful antics cannot possibly constitute history, which ought to be a strict no-nonsense recitation of 'the facts'.

And yet, Herodotus of Halicarnassus both coined the term, 'historia,' and invented the genre. History can therefore be anything that he, the very first historian, pleases. And 'historia,' to Herodotus, meant 'enquiry' or 'investigation.' It is therefore fruitless to lament that Herodotus' account of the Persian Empire and the Greek City-States does not live up to some modern criterion. We are lucky to have this treasure-house of anecdotes. Herodotus, who travelled around the Greek and Persian city states, asked questions and wrote down answers. Thanks to Herodotus, we learn that the Egyptians hunted crocodiles, respected their elders, and ate outdoors [like the Italians].
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER
Herodotus, called the Father of History for inventing the term, (though in Ancient Greek it actually meant something closer to 'enquiry') takes us on a wonderful tour of the ancient Greek mind. Ostensibly his book traces the relations between the Greeks and the Persian empire, east and west, starting with the mythic beginnings of conflict such as the abduction of Io, Medea and Helen, and ending with the Persian invasion in 490-480 that made Athens the leader, temporarily, of the Greek world. In between Herodotus works through Egypt, Lydia, and Media taking in stories of Croesus, the richest man in the world, Midas, and Gyges.

The highlight for most readers today is probably the Persian invasion with the wonderful set pieces of Marathon, Salamis and, of course, Thermopylae (the original source of Pressfield's bestselling 'Gates of Fire').

Unlike some history books, this is rivetting reading as Herodotus writes like a dream and is so clearly fascinated by his story that he can't help but carry us along with him. Wonderful stuff!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoy the cracking stories 2 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The Histories is Herodotus' account of how Persia came to control Asia and how poor and fractious Greek states repelled the invasion of a massive army and navy comprising all the people under Persian domination, including Phoenician sailors and spear-wielding Ethiopians in leopard skins.

Herodotus reports stories that he has picked up on travels around the Mediterranean about historical events of the 7th and 6th centuries BCE, and about social mores among the people involved. The sources are rarely identified, and Herodotus himself is less than certain about the credibility of some of the tales. There's probably as much myth as there is history in this book, but the translator's notes are very helpful at separating the wheat from the chaff for the reader who wants to know (I'm referring to the Oxford World's Classics edition translated by Robin Waterfield, just in case Amazon posts this review on every other edition, as it is wont to do).

For a history of the period, there are probably much better books to read than this one. What's exciting about The Histories is the feeling of hearing the account of events as it was told in Plato's Athens. Here are the stories that were shared in antiquity about the bravery of the Spartans at Thermopylae, the wiliness of Themistocles, the fearsome habits of the Cannibals, and the hubris of Xerxes, to mention just a few.

Regardless of their truth, the stories are hugely entertaining, such as the one about the renegade Egyptian commander whose only response to the messenger come to deliver an ultimatum from the Pharoah was to raise himself on his saddle and fart, or the better known story about the lashing of the Hellespont ordered by the Persian emperor Xerxes for not remaining calm during his army's passage. If nothing else, they confirm that malicious gossip is not a modern invention.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Nice text, shame about the file
Herodotus is a sublime writer. First of historians, with an inquisitiveness and humour that make you follow him as he wanders from subject to subject with sublime ease. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mr. F. S. Nicolson
2.0 out of 5 stars Kindle version different from print version?
I can't rate this item as I haven't purchased it. I've given it two stars for the product information. I was interested in buying this book. Read more
Published 8 months ago by J
5.0 out of 5 stars history replayed.
History as described very long years ago.
A good source to visualize a past with reasonable credential. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Krish
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent - let down only by the shoddy maps
We can be sure that in the Ancient World, everyone knew Herodotus' work: Thucydides used it as a base and sharpened many minor parts (although he would not have seen them as... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Beszelek
3.0 out of 5 stars MAPS NEEDED
I chose to rate this book at 3 stars because what it seriously needs is a map, or several maps, in order for us to locate all the various countries. Read more
Published 14 months ago by S. A. Jones
4.0 out of 5 stars A thorough, annotated and hyperlinked version of The Histories
The Histories is one of the classic books of western literature, and in this version it is brought helpfully into the information age. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Clive Freeman
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent translation - a really good read
Earlier translations seem to treat the original with a certain restrictive obeisance because of it's age, and so have rendered it into formal language which was already archaic... Read more
Published 16 months ago by BWFC77
3.0 out of 5 stars Oxford edition seems flawed
I am not a specialist in Greek or ancient history, but enjoy reading ancient texts as a lay person, albeit one who has a PhD and is well versed in academic criteria. Read more
Published on 17 Jun 2011 by Shuttergirl
4.0 out of 5 stars Oxford edition, good intro by Waterfield
Herodotus, the Histories, in a single volume. Tight, dense print so you may prefer the hardback version for readability. Read more
Published on 17 Oct 2010 by P. Prendergast
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