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The Histories (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

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Item Number 424067  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   716
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.77" Width: 5.08" Height: 1.37"
Weight:   1.2 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   May 1, 2003
Publisher   Penguin Group USA
Age  18
ISBN  0140449086  
EAN  9780140449082  

Availability  0 units.

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Item Description...
Recounts the causes and history of the wars between the Greek city-states and Persia.

Publishers Description
The Histories describes how a small 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: 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, this text offers a compelling Greek view of the world of the 5th century BC.

Buy The Histories (Penguin Classics) by Herodotus, Aubrey De Selincourt, John Marincola, Garry Parsons, Kazue Ueda, Gregory Volk, Open University & B. Teissier from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780140449082 & 0140449086

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More About Herodotus, Aubrey De Selincourt, John Marincola, Garry Parsons, Kazue Ueda, Gregory Volk, Open University & B. Teissier

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! HERODOTUS was born around 480 bc in Halicarnassus, on the southwest coast of Asia Minor. Few facts are known about his life but he remains known through his life's work, The Histories.

TOM HOLLAND is the award-winning author of Rubicon, Persian Fire, and most recently In the Shadow of the Sword. He lives in London.

PAUL CARTLEDGE is the author of Sparta and Lakonia and The Greeks. He is A. G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture at the University of Cambridge.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A Strand of Western Civilization's DNA  Apr 12, 2010
This epic begins with the tale of a royal orphan, Cyrus, who built the Persian Empire, and ends with Cyrus's grandson Xerxes' invasion of Greece, which would bring together the warring Greek nations in a climactic struggle for liberty and civilization. This book has one long digression after another, but is held together by the tragicomedy found throughout.

There is the poignant tale of the Lydian king Croesus who in his pride and in his lust for the destruction of a great empire, as prophesized by the Oracle at Delphi (which performs in the trickster role in this epic), sought war with Cyrus and the Persians. The war would indeed destroy a great empire (Croesus's own), and from its ashes would rise a greater empire (Persia). His pride finally subjugated, Croesus would become advisor to Cyrus.

And then towards the end of the book, during Xerxes' invasion of Greece, there is the Athenian naval commander Themistocles who even after the burning of Athens and the possible subjugation of all of Europe decided he still had time to extort from his island allies. It was his crass greed and his shameless duplicity that would save the day twice for the Greeks. First, he was bribed to risk the entire Greek navy against the far superior Persian alliance. When the other Greek commanders rightfully and justly refused to engage in the madness, Themistocles bribed them as well. Ironically, the small Greek navy performed valiantly in the struggle, and turned the tide of war against the invaders. Then much later, when his Spartan navy allies considered abandoning the fleet in order to defend their homeland against a Persian march, Themistocles committed treason by providing the Persian fleet with vital military intelligence. The Greek fleet was encircled, and forced to fight (which was Themistocles's plan all along). The Greeks won the navy engagement, and forced Xerxes to retreat in disgrace. When the Greeks decided not to pursue, Themistocles shamelessly sent an envoy to Xerxes to tell him it was he and him alone that managed to persuade the Greeks not to pursue.

The failure of the Persian invaders of 1.5 million strong to crush the Greeks, Herodotus speculates, is because the Gods do not like pride and lust in men: when men like Croesus and Xerxes think themselves Gods then they must be taught their mortality. Herodotus also offers other explanations for the bloody and brutal defeat of the Persians: disunity in the ranks, disorganization, and bad judgement. The Persians were a smattering of many conquered nations who fought for fear of Xerxes and love of gold, while the Greeks fought for their freedom and homeland. Herodotus also points out that in critical land and sea battles, where space was limited, the superior numbers of the Persians were actually their mortal weakness.

The introduction tells us that "The Histories" in Greek mean "Inquires" or "Investigations," and Herodotus appears to investigate the causes and facts of the Persian invasion of Greece. No modern reader will actually see the book as a historical narrative, and see it for it is: myth-making at its best, to unite all Greek tribes into a national consciousness (which is another definition of history, after all). There is blatant misrepresentation and exaggeration, racism and xenophobia in the book, and these strands would be brought to be their extremity in works such as Frank Miller's graphic novel "300" and the film adaptation. In Herodotus's rendering, the dichotomy between Greece and Persia is not just between liberty and tyranny, but also between martial manliness and effeminate luxury, between sharp justice and arbitrary barbarism. The Greeks are, after all, just a stronger and smarter, more moral and just race.

What is truly stunning reading this classic is to see how much of the stories in it has become entrenched in Western civilization. The plot and structure of the book can even be found in the popular Blizzard video games "Starcraft" and "Warcraft III." Both video games trace the origins of a mighty evil empire, which forces warring tribes to settle their differences to unite against the great evil.

"The Histories" is comparable to the Chinese literary clasic "Romance of the Three Kingdoms," which also traces the rise and fall of warring empires. There are important differences though. "Romance of the Three Kingdoms" is about cunning and diplomacy, management and grand strategy, whereas "The Histories" is about trickery and luck, prophecy and fate. If you like "The Histories" then definitely read "Romance of the Three Kingdoms."

The Quintesential Book of Ancient History  Jan 9, 2010
I was recently doing research on the Pharoahs of Egypt and I kept finding references to Herodotus'Fifth Century BC book THE HISTORIES. I felt it important to read this biography, as he is considered "The Father Of History." During the golden age of Greece he was there to travel throughout the Mediterranean world, visiting Egypt, Africa, Persia,the Black Sea and the city states of Greece. Both amusing and sometimes credulous he records myth and fact as he uncovered it.For any student, young or old with an interest in where it all began, I recommend this book.
Penguin Edition  Jul 19, 2009
As others have noted below , reading Herodotus is a mixed experience. On the one hand he is a fascinating story teller and hearing about the ancients and the places they inhabited from him is endlessly entertaining. On the other hand he tends to go off on long tangents in order to set up a specific incident and at times the book drags.
I personally found the penguin edition and the Selincourt translation fine as an introduction but as I got about halfway through I found the absence of maps and foot notes a bit distracting as place names became more obscure to me. I then paged through a copy of the Landmark Herodotus and realized that the experience of reading this would be better with the added illustration and annotations so I switched.
Nevertheless the Penguin is a smaller more portable version that is serviceable enough.
Review of Penguin Classics Herodotus  May 31, 2009
While I found the material entertaining and the translation laudable, I can't help but criticize the format of this work in light of similar, but better, editions. I speak specifically of "The Landmark Herodotus," by Strassler. I haven't actually read the work, but I've read its counterpart, "The Landmark Thucydides," and found it to be a large improvement over similar editions.

This book is easy enough to follow, but at times drags on. If you don't mind having a larger book in front of you, I recommend the Strassler edition, which features extensive maps and footnotes (this work only had endnotes).
An interesting read, but a rambling narrative.  Feb 9, 2009
The Histories of Herodotus are, without a doubt, one of the premier sources in any study of the antiquities. Spanning hundreds of years, Herodotus provides a rich narrative of the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean region during the height of the Greek and Medo-Persian empires. The focus begins in Lydia and Media, then shifts briefly to Egypt before ultimately settling on an extended account of Xerxes' invasion of Greece and the events leading up to that war. The cultures of Greece, Egypt and especially Persia are highlighted, along with the geography of Greece, Asia Minor and the Black Sea region.

Key players in the narrative start with Lydian kings like Astyages and Croesus, but quickly shift focus to the Persian dynasty that included the likes of Cyrus, Cambyses, Darius and Xerxes. Certain personalities among the Greeks and Ionians also figure prominently at various points, such as Periander and Themistocles. Critical battles like Marathon, Thermopylae, Salamis and Plataea are recounted in some detail.

My only complaint is that Herodotus is very rambling and often disjointed in his presentation. He is prone to excessive digression (in my opinion) and frequently leads his readers on merry rabbit chases to set up some background information for a particular tale that he is about to relate. Thankfully all his digressions eventually work their way back around, but I personally found this a bit distracting and occasionally hard to follow. On a final note, I would add that The Histories are not light reading, but definitely worth the time investment for any lover of history.

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