My first post on Herodotus

First things first–I’ve not gotten all that far in the book. Partly it’s because I haven’t been reading as much as I normally do, but partly because after two or three pages, I often glaze over a little bit; it’s nothing if not dense.

But it’s also interesting. It’s the first generally recognized history text, and the list of things it is the primary source for is pretty amazing.

Apparently the ??Histories?? are the only source we have for information about the Battle of Marathon (an appropriate reference given what’s going on in Athens).

Or, tell me if this quote sounds somewhat familiar:

bq. These neither snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness of night prevents from accomplishing each one the task proposed to him, with the very utmost speed.

Yep that description, somewhat adapted, of the Persian Post is what is engraved above the door to the Post Office.

Or, just on the first page, I enjoyed this little comment:

bq. […]for they sailed in to Aia of Colchis and to the river Phasis with a ship of war, and from thence, after they had done the other business for which they came, the carried off the king’s daughter Medea.

Kind of like picking up a pack of gum after robbing the convenience store.

There’s lots of other pithy stuff in this text–wry comments about human nature, and particularly that of nobles.

Or there’s the story of Croesus, with its character Solon, who puts for the concept that “no one of the living might be called happy.” I forget the more common form of the quotation, but I’m sure you recognize it.

It is, though, another, “In 2500 years, look how far we haven’t come” sort of experience. And, as I said, it is dense and sometimes hard to follow. But it’s fun.

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Michael Alan Dorman

Yogi, brigand, programmer, thief, musician, Republican, cook. I leave it to you figure out which ones are accurate.