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Punishments and the Conclusion of Herodotus’ Histories

Desmond, William (2004) Punishments and the Conclusion of Herodotus’ Histories. Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies, 44 (1). pp. 19-40. ISSN 0017-3916

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Abstract

One must consider the end of every affair, how it will turn out.”1 Solon’s advice to Croesus has often been applied to Herodotus’ Histories themselves: Is the conclusion of Herodotus’ work a fitting and satisfying one? Older interpretations tended to criticize the final stories about Artayctes and Artembares as anticlimactic or inappropriate: Did Herodotus forget himself here, or were the stories intended as interludes, preludes to further narrative?2 Entirely opposite is the praise accorded Herodotus in a recent commentary on Book 9: “The brilliance of Herodotus as a writer and thinker is manifest here, as the conclusion of the Histories both brings together those themes which have permeated the entire work and, at the same time, alludes to the new themes of the post-war world.”3 More recent appreciation for Herodotus’ “brilliance,” then, is often inspired by the tightly-woven texture of Herodotus’ narrative. Touching upon passion, revenge, noble primitivism, East-West relations, the concluding stories at 9.108–122 recall the Prologue and Lydian logos, reinforce many of the narrative motifs that thread through the work as a whole, and (perhaps) offer a warning to the Athenians that with the emergence of the Delian League, a new cycle of tragic history may be beginning.4

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Herodotus’ Histories;
Subjects: Arts, Celtic Studies & Philosophy > Ancient Classics
Item ID: 1943
Depositing User: Dr William Desmond
Date Deposited: 20 May 2010 13:27
Journal or Publication Title: Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies
Publisher: Duke University
Refereed: Yes
URI:

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