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Paperback The Histories Book

ISBN: 0140449086

ISBN13: 9780140449082

The Histories

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'The first example of non-fiction, the text that underlies the entire discipline of history ... it is above all a treasure trove' Tom Holland 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 colourful digressions...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

From Great Authors are Great Books apt to come forth!

This is the first time that I ever studied Herodotus. Nevertheless, Donald Lateiner's excellent introduction allowed even a novice like me to gain an understanding of the marvelous world which Herodotus describes, of the historian himself and of his methods, and of the lasting influence of 'The Histories.' The translation by G.C. Macauly is very lyrical and a true joy to read (I cannot, unfortunately, compare it to other translations). Donald Lateiner provides a list of the other major translations of 'The Histories' for those who are interested. As for 'The Histories' themselves, what can I possibly say: they are the most comprehensive view of ancient Europe and the Middle East ever penned. Here are wonders to amaze the soul, forgotten realms and far away lands, tales of the common people as well as the greatest kings, and philosophies to enlighten and transcend the mind. History at its finest. Herodotus not only wrote the first prose narrative, but also one of the best!!! I wish I could give it an infinite number of stars- a mere five is simply not enough!

If you want to understand how strange Herodotus really is. . .

this is to my mind the only translation for you. Herodotus was not a historian; rather, he was an inquirer, and a displayer of inquiry. I've never read another translation that captures the profound uncertainty about the operation of the universe that radiates from every sentence of his Greek. The ancient world is a wonderfully unfamiliar place, once you've let go of your preconceptions: reading Grene's Herodotus is a very good way to start letting them go.

Grene wins on the strength of his translation

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. The text is followed by some interesting additions: A "Repertory" of English translations, a list of comments and works "inspired" by Herodotus, further "comments and questions", an extensive bibliography, and two good Indices with that of proper names separate from the general index. Maps: There are eight, all of which appear to be from the original Macaulay publication. In any case, they do not appear to be based on the most recent cartography. The first, more extensive maps are helpful, but, to my mind, the others are crudely drawn and lack important detail. Still, I'd give this edition a good rating for maps, since it turns out that eight is a comparatively generous serving. 2. Translation by Aubrey de Selincourt in 1954; revised by John Marincola in 1972, 1996, and 2003; published by Penguin Classics. Disappointed by the Macaulay/Lateiner translation, I picked this one up on the basis of the strong reputation of Penguin Classics. It has another good introduction, followed by a limited bibliography. The translation itself is much easier to digest. Here's how it renders the same passage as above: "The events which led to Miltiades' capture of Lemnos were as follows. The Athenians had forced certain Pelasgians to leave Attica. Whether or not they were justified in doing this is not clear; al

Herodotus brings history to life

If you think history is a dry, dull, boring subject, reading Herodotus's History of the Persian Wars just might change your mind. Herodotus clearly enjoys his subject and enjoys writing about it; he has been accused of fabricating facts but he states several times in the book that although he feels obligated to report everything he has heard, he does not have to believe it all alike, and where he doesn't believe what he has heard or read, he says so. In contrast to Thucydides, whose style is didactic, analytic and dry as dust, Herodotus write with a lot of verve and humor, and makes us live in his time by bringing the time vividly to life. The translation by Aubrey Selincourt is a good one, but if you can, get the edition translated by George Rawlinson ("The Persian Wars"), which is more interesting and more fun to read. This is a wonderful volume for history buffs or anyone who simply enjoys a well-written, fascinating book.
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