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Distinguished Wordsmith
Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Herodotus's Histories

I know -- it's not really a British classic, but in translation it is in English. :smileyhappy: And this has been the board where some other classic texts have found a temporary home until BN sets up a separate Ancient Classics board.

At any rate, I brought home from the library this afternoon the Landmark Herodotus. It's a new translation of the Histories, but beyond just the translation it has a large number of very useful maps, a few photographs of ancient sites and other figures, a marginal sort of mini-table of contents helping keep track of the argument, some footnotes -- enough to be useful but not so many as to overwhelm -- and an index. There is also an introduction and several concluding essays. All in all, a very useful set of aids for reading this wonderful history.

Unfortunately, I don't like the Purvis translation nearly as much as the Rawlinson translation which has been my standby up to now. Basically, I don't like casual, folksy translations of classical works (the same reason I am not fond of, for example, the Lombardo translation of the Odyssey). I understand the concept of making these texts more accessible to the casual reader (though what casual reader is really going to pick up a 500 page book of ancient history?), but I think it's out of character for the writing and an offense to the dignity of the ancients.

So I wish they had put these reading aids with the Rawlinson translation, but they didn't. At the very least, I'll enjoy reading the Introduction and Appendices, and I may find the translation less objectionable as I start renewing my memories of the Histories.
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I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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Timbuktu1
Posts: 1,572
Registered: ‎12-31-2007
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Re: Herodotus's Histories



Everyman wrote:
I know -- it's not really a British classic, but in translation it is in English. :smileyhappy: And this has been the board where some other classic texts have found a temporary home until BN sets up a separate Ancient Classics board.

At any rate, I brought home from the library this afternoon the Landmark Herodotus. It's a new translation of the Histories, but beyond just the translation it has a large number of very useful maps, a few photographs of ancient sites and other figures, a marginal sort of mini-table of contents helping keep track of the argument, some footnotes -- enough to be useful but not so many as to overwhelm -- and an index. There is also an introduction and several concluding essays. All in all, a very useful set of aids for reading this wonderful history.

Unfortunately, I don't like the Purvis translation nearly as much as the Rawlinson translation which has been my standby up to now. Basically, I don't like casual, folksy translations of classical works (the same reason I am not fond of, for example, the Lombardo translation of the Odyssey). I understand the concept of making these texts more accessible to the casual reader (though what casual reader is really going to pick up a 500 page book of ancient history?), but I think it's out of character for the writing and an offense to the dignity of the ancients.

So I wish they had put these reading aids with the Rawlinson translation, but they didn't. At the very least, I'll enjoy reading the Introduction and Appendices, and I may find the translation less objectionable as I start renewing my memories of the Histories.






I bought that book a few months ago and you're very right, the casual reader would not buy that book. I have not had a chance to open it myself although I'm really looking forward to it.


When I was reading Herodotus for the first time, last year, I was very frustrated. I had no idea who the people he mentioned were or where they lived. It didn't seem to bother most people but I really wanted to know who and where the Carians (for example) lived. So I couldn't wait to get this new book with all of its maps and notes.

Since then I've been taking a course in Indo-European languages and it has answered a lot of my questions. The class has traced the migrations of the Carians, Medes, etc. Amazingly they have been able to get an idea of their culture and religious practices as well. It's really linguistic archaeology. The professor makes reference to Herodotus often and it's been wonderful to finally get a better idea of what he was describing.

BTW, the professor offered to put something on power point for us at the next (and last) session. I wonder if I could link it to this site?
Distinguished Wordsmith
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Re: Herodotus's Histories


Timbuktu1 wrote:
BTW, the professor offered to put something on power point for us at the next (and last) session. I wonder if I could link it to this site?

If he puts it up on the web in an open site (not one accessible only to students with a university password), you could provide the link here and we should be able to access it. It sounds interesting -- I hope you can!
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I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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Timbuktu1
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Re: Herodotus's Histories

Your post encouraged me to open the Herodotus book that's been sitting on my shelf for months. I randomly flipped open to page 325. It was a description of the customs of the Scythians. They shared wives so that all men were brothers. Sounds as though Plato borrowed this idea for the Republic. Made me wonder how many of his ideas were actually taken from places he'd visited.
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Everyman
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Herodotus's Histories

Considering that one can only write about things that have somehow entered one's mind, either by observation (in the broad sense) or from ideas generated from observation, it wouldn't be surprising. But he might also have developed his ideas in part from the example of the Spartans.

Timbuktu1 wrote:
Your post encouraged me to open the Herodotus book that's been sitting on my shelf for months. I randomly flipped open to page 325. It was a description of the customs of the Scythians. They shared wives so that all men were brothers. Sounds as though Plato borrowed this idea for the Republic. Made me wonder how many of his ideas were actually taken from places he'd visited.


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I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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Timbuktu1
Posts: 1,572
Registered: ‎12-31-2007
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Re: Herodotus's Histories



Everyman wrote:
Considering that one can only write about things that have somehow entered one's mind, either by observation (in the broad sense) or from ideas generated from observation, it wouldn't be surprising. But he might also have developed his ideas in part from the example of the Spartans.

Timbuktu1 wrote:
Your post encouraged me to open the Herodotus book that's been sitting on my shelf for months. I randomly flipped open to page 325. It was a description of the customs of the Scythians. They shared wives so that all men were brothers. Sounds as though Plato borrowed this idea for the Republic. Made me wonder how many of his ideas were actually taken from places he'd visited.







I had thought he was basing his Republic on the Spartans too. But as I understand it he traveled for l2 years after Socrates was killed so he must have seen many alternative lifestyles. And/or he read Herodotus.:smileywink:

BTW, that's an interesting point you raise. In studying Kant, my professor made a chart on the board, dividing empirical thought from "pure" formal knowledge. Looking at that chart, I had a minor epiphany. There is no "pure" formal knowledge and that is the flaw in Kant's (and others) thinking. I think I agree with you, that everything we think and know is from experience in one way or the other. OTH there's the "hard wiring" we're learning so much about nowadays... I don't know how things worked out for the Scythians, Herodotus seems to think the system worked well. It's difficult to believe but who knows?
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Everyman
Posts: 9,216
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Herodotus's Histories

Een the most imaginative writing can be linked to things observed. I used to read science fiction in my youth, and I quickly realized that the most esoteric plots and descriptions of alien beings were all derived from concepts we have experienced or have language (i.e. thought) for.

We simply can't imagine a being, for example, that has none of the properties of matter or energy that we are familiar with. Any more than we can imagine what is in the area into which the Universe is expanding.

Timbuktu1 wrote:
BTW, that's an interesting point you raise. In studying Kant, my professor made a chart on the board, dividing empirical thought from "pure" formal knowledge. Looking at that chart, I had a minor epiphany. There is no "pure" formal knowledge and that is the flaw in Kant's (and others) thinking. I think I agree with you, that everything we think and know is from experience in one way or the other.
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I think, therefore I drive people nuts.
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