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The Histories Reissue Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 85 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 000-0000926119
ISBN-10: 0140449086
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Editorial Reviews


“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

Few facts are known about the life of Herodotus. He was born around 490 BC in Halicarnassus, on the south-west coast of Asia Minor. He seems to have travelled widely throughout the Mediterranean world, including Egypt, Africa, the area around the Black Sea and throughout many Greek city-states, of both the mainland and the islands. A sojourn in Athens is part of the traditional biography, and there he is said to have given public readings of his work and been friends with the playwright Sophocles. He is said also to have taken part in the founding of the colony of Thurii in Italy in 443 BC. He probably died at some time between 415 and 410 BC. His reputation has varied greatly, but for the ancients and many moderns he well deserves the title (first given to him by Cicero) of ‘the Father of History’.

John Marincola was born in Philadelphia in 1954, and was educated at Swarthmore College, the University of Pennsylvania, and Brown University. He has taught at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts, and at Union College in New York, and is currently an Associate Professor of Classics at New York University. From 1997 to 1999 he was Executive Director of the American Philological Association, and in 1999-2000 he was a Junior Fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, DC. He is the author of Authority and Tradition in Ancient Historiography (Cambridge, 1997), Greek Historians (Greece and Rome New Surveys in the Classics 31, Oxford 2001), and of several articles on the Greek and Roman historians. He is currently at work on a book on Hellenistic historiography.

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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 1.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,406 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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