Monday 2 January 2017

The Histories by Herodotus - Readalong

I first read The Histories at school.

I was studying Ancient History and we were meant to read a handful of chapters in Herodotus that related to the topic we were focused on.
But I fell in love. I couldn't get enough of this world and these people that I knew nothing about. I wanted to know more. Much more.

Over the summer holidays I brought my own copy of Herodotus (& The Peloponnesian War, but that's another story!) & I read the book from cover to cover, underlining and highlighting as I went.

Yes, I have been a bookish 'conchie swot' geek all my life!

I've been wanting to reread it ever since (& The Peloponnesian War).

Ruth @A Great Book Study is working her way through Susan Wise Bauer's book, The Well-Educated Mind. She has now reached the History section...and the first book on the list is Herodotus The Histories.

Given our holiday plans for January and my intention to host my very own #HLOTRreadalong2017 starting in February it will be a juggle. But I'm willing to give it a shot!

My school copy fell apart years ago - being held together with nothing but tape and contact.
I had purchased a new copy a couple of years ago in the hope I would find time to reread it soon.

First published in 441BC, Herodotus is often referred to as the father of history. The translator of my current 2003 Penguin Classics edition is Aubrey de S√©lincourt.

One of the masterpieces of classical literature, the "Histories" describes how a small and quarrelsome band of Greek city states united to repel the might of the Persian empire. 
But while this epic struggle forms the core of his work, Herodotus' natural curiosity frequently gives rise to colorful digressions - a description of the natural wonders of Egypt; an account of European lake-dwellers; and far-fetched accounts of dog-headed men and gold-digging ants. 
With its kaleidoscopic blend of fact and legend, the "Histories" offers a compelling Greek view of the world of the fifth century BC.

How to Read History:

According to Susan Wise Bauer, these are questions to consider when reading a historical work.

Level I:
Who is the author, and does he/she state the purpose for writing?
Who is the story about, and what are the major events?
What challenge did this hero/heroine face, and what causes this challenge? What is the result of the hero/heroine?
Do the characters progress/regress, and why?
Where/when does the story take place?

Level II:
What are the historians' assertions, and what questions is he/she asking?
What sources does the historian use to answer them?
Does the evidence support the connection between questions and answers?
Does the historian list his or her qualifications?

Level III:
What is the purpose of history?
Does this story have a forward motion?
What does it mean to be human?
Why do things go wrong?
What place does free will have?
What relationship does this history have to social problems?
What is the end of history?
How is this history the same as - or different than - the stories of other historians who have come before?

Are you game?

Are you ready to go back in time, to the beginning of Western civilisation?


  1. Glad to hear that you're joining us, Brona! We'll benefit from your familiarity with Herodotus, I'm sure. Hopefully you're in for the Peloponnesian War as well. Ancient Greek historians, here we come! ;-)

    1. My familiarity with the Ancients is now thirty years ago (where did that time go?)!
      So I will curious to see how much I remember.

      I would like to join in the readalong for The Peloponnesian War too - it will depend on how my #HLOTRreadalong is progressing.

  2. Very cool post. I do prefer your copy to mine. My copy features a very naked man on the cover, and it's a little disturbing. Anyway, I am encouraged that you enjoyed your first read, and even wanted to read it again. A few years ago I read Herodotus and the Road to History by Jeanne Bendick, a kid's version, and I may have experienced the same thrill you did when you read the real thing. I loved visiting that world, that time period, and I could not wait for this day to finally read Herodotus' words. So here we are! Thanks for joining.

    1. Hopefully we'll both get that lovely feeling very soon!


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