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The Histories (Oxford World's Classics)

37 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199535668
ISBN-10: 0199535663
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Editorial Reviews

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'.
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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 840 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks (May 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199535663
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199535668
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 1.5 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,295 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Michael Levy on August 12, 2009
Format: Paperback
The Histories by Herodotus is a great book. However, there are many translations, and most of them are poor. If you choose the wrong translation, you may never experience the true pleasures of getting to know Herodotus.

The translation by Robin Waterfield, published by Oxford, is wonderful. It will really give you a sense of Herodotus and his times. Other editions, especially annotated ones, are worth considering, but I recommend you start with this one.

You can test this your self: look inside this edition using the Amazon preview, and then compare that with the same passage in one of the free online editions. By convention, The Histories is divided into nine books, and the sections of the books are numbered. Click "surprise me" on the Amazon page, and compare that with what you find in an online edition.
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61 of 66 people found the following review helpful By F. S. L'hoir VINE VOICE on March 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
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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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By C.J.Boston on January 18, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
The Kindle edition of this book is NOT the Waterfield translation. Instead, the Kindle edition (by Start Publishing) appears to be the Macauley translation. I am not making a judgment about the relative merits of the two translations (although most would find the Macauley translation too old-fashioned). Instead, my point is that Amazon goofed by linking the two translations in the same entry.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By book lover on October 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The rating only applies to the kindle version published by Oxford World's Classics as a product, not the book itself. The map section is practically useless, as it is a poor quality scan, whereby the location names are not legible.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Jan Dierckx on December 27, 2008
Format: Paperback
Herodotus was born in Halicarnassus and lived from 484 until 429 B.C. These dates are approximate.

The History of Herodotus is divided into nine 'books' (we would call it chapters) each with a name of one of the nine Muzes: book 1 is Cleio, book 2 is Euterpe, book 3 is Thaleia, book 4 is Melpomene, book 5 is Terpsichore, book 6 is Erato, book 7 is Polymnia, book 8 Ourania and book 9 Calliope. Their names were given at random without a link to the content of each book.
Scholars believe that it wasn't Herodotus who used these names but that it was done probably by
an unknown copyist from the Hellenistic period (+- 300-200 B.C.).

Many critics say that there is no leading thread running through the nine books and that their digressions are used haphazardly with little explanation of historical events.
Those critics are not entirely wrong. Herodotus is fond of legends, myths and anecdotes ( in book 2
for instance we read an Egyptian horror story ) and let's face it; the Greeks themselves were fond of these things. Herodotus must have been a very popular writer in his time.
Modern historians though are not likely to use such things with minor importance in their scientific works.

There is a leading thread however but you have to simplify things a little. You could summarize Herodotus' work in three steps. 1. How Persia becomes a military power. 2. The conquest of Egypt by Persia. 3. Two attempts to conquer Greece and why they failed.
The first attempt fails in the battle of Marathon (490 B.C.). The second attempt is more complex but takes a turn in favor of the Greeks during the sea-battle of Salamis where the Persian fleet is almost destroyed. Legend ( or historical fact ? ) has it that Aeschylus - one of the three Tragedy Poets - participated in that battle. ( 480 B.C. ).

Herodotus proofs that literature from Antiquity can be entertaining.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Warbird on May 2, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
This is the old, Gutenberg translation which is available at no cost. I'm returning it for credit. An annoying experience.
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