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The Histories, Revised (Penguin Classics) Paperback – April 29, 2003

75 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0140449082 ISBN-10: 0140449086 Edition: Reissue

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“De Sélincourt’s pacy, natural-sounding, rendering, as superbly revised and annotated by John Marincola…was a game-changer…still reads freshly and is a bestseller six decades after its first publication.”
--Edith Hall,  Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

A Greek historian, Herodotus (c.485-425 BC) left his native town of Halicarnassus, a Greek colony, to travel extensively. He collected historical, geographical, ethnological, mytholgical and archaeological material for his histories. Aubrey de Selincourt has translated Livy, Herodotus and Arrian, all for Penguin Classics. John Marincola is Associate Professor of Classics at New York University.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 771 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (April 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140449086
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449082
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.3 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,262 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

524 of 536 people found the following review helpful By Jesse Steven Hargrave on February 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
By an costly combination of circumstances, I wound up recently linking three different translations in reading through Herodotus. Here's a comparative review of each, which I'm posting for each work.

1. Translation by G.C. Macaulay and revised throughout by Donald Lateiner; published by Barnes and Noble Classics in 2004, but the Macaulay translation is from around 1890.

I started with this one, attracted by the extensive introduction by Donald Lateiner. That intro was solid and revealed much that I hadn't been aware of. But the translation, even after Lateiner's revisions, is awkward and stilted. Many of the pronoun references are confusing, making it difficult to follow the narrative thread.

Here's about half of a single sentence: "Now Miltiades son of Kimon had thus taken possession of Lemnos:--After the Pelasgians had been cast out of Attica by the Athenians, whether justly or unjustly,--for about this I cannot tell except the things reported, which are these:--Hecataios on the one hand, the son of Hegesander, said in his history that it was done unjustly: for he said that when the Athenians saw the land which extends below Hymettos, which they had themselves given them to dwell in, as payment for the wall built round the Acropolis in former times, when the Athenians, I say, saw that the land was made good by cultivation, which before was bad or worthless, they were seized with jealousy and with longing to possess the land, and so drove them out, not alleging any other pretext: ..."

The footnotes are generally helpful, although many only state the obvious. They are all integrated with the text, making it unnecessary to keep paging to the back.
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117 of 122 people found the following review helpful By Molon Labe on June 24, 2004
Format: Paperback
The Histories is commonly thought of as the classic chronicle of the great 5th century BCE wars between the underdog confederacy of Greek city-states and the mighty Persian Empire. To the modern reader of military history, this implies an overriding focus on causes, strategy and tactics as well as detailed, extensive descriptions of pivotal battles. Herodotus, commonly referred to as the "father of history," takes a much broader approach with his work. While he does cover the heroic battles of Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis and Plateau, their treatment is surprisingly shallow, with the bulk of the book dedicated to narration of the gathering storm of Persian power and related expository coverage of the many lands, nations and peoples, intrigues, power struggles and heroic achievements of classical times. Contemporary expectations aside, this is a fascinating book, consistently entertaining and, with proper attention to editor John Marincola's notes, highly educational.
Herodotus covers a remarkable swath of time and space, ranging from Egyptian pharaohs from c. 3000 BCE to the final expulsion of the Persians from European soil in 479 BCE and from Libya in the west to India in the south to central Asia in the east and Thrace in the north. His recurrent thematic elements include justice through vengeance, the contrast between free and enslaved peoples, the power of the gods as expressed through oracles, the constantly shifting fortunes of mankind and the disastrous consequences of arrogance and excessive pride.
Herodotus has been described elsewhere as the world's first tourist, a reflection of his apparently wide travel, fascination with other cultures and careful reporting of wondrous facts from the far corners of the world.
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Chris Ward VINE VOICE on May 1, 2006
Format: Paperback
Well, Herodotus didn't say it, but he's famous for relating Solon's words to Croesus in this book-- and many other words besides. Everyone should read this look at a world long dead, brought gloriously alive by the brilliant Herodotus. If you've never taken "the long view" before, you'll soon see that a lot went on before you were born (and a lot, no doubt, is yet to happen). Civilizations created and conquered, Gods worshipped and forgotten-- it reads like fiction or fantasy, but it is not: it's as close as Herodotus could get to telling the absolute truth as he saw it (and he saw a lot).

Some "classics" are hard to slog through and appreciate. This is not one of them. Read! Enjoy!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By ct reader on November 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
Few things are eternal. One is this translation and text.

Herodotus (born 490-480 BC in Halicarnassus - modern Bodrum) opens with "In this book, as a result of my inquiries into history, I hope to do two things: to preserve the memory of the past by putting on record the astonishing achievements both of our own and of the Asiatic peoples; secondly and more particularly, to show how the two races came into conflict."

This was an ambitious goal, given the crisis of Persian invasions that resulted in the haphazard and ultimately heroic unification of Hellenes for a brief period against Persian `barbarians.'

The text proceeds innocuously as if a 5C BC travel guide replete with gossip and speculation on everything known to the author. This is invaluable as a contemporary view of the ancient world. But the conclusion (from Book Seven) is unique and as riveting as the most popular fiction.

Herodotus, like Homer and Thucydides, is a foundation of civilization as we know it.
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