The Greek book of the week – The Histories by Herodotus
The civilization of Ancient Greece continue to fascinate the modern mind. It’s remote in time, and yet still close to us. This is partly because we owe to the classical world so many of the values and ideas which shape our society, literature and art, partly because many of the important moral and political issues which continue to exercise twenty-first century man were first addressed in the ancient world.
The Histories by Herodotus (440 BC).
Considered as the founding work of history in Western literature, The Histories, were written in 440 BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek. Herodote’s work serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that were known in Western Asia, Northern Africa and Greece at that time. It’ s one of the first accounts of the rise of the Persian Empire, as well as the events and causes of the Greco-Persian Wars between the Achaemenid Empire and the Greek city-states in the 5th century BC. Before him, no one had made a systematic, thorough study of the past or tried to explain the cause-and-effect of its events.
He begins his work with this paragraph:
«This is the display of the inquiry of Herodotus of Halicarnassus, so that things done by man not be forgotten in time, and that great and marvelous deeds, some displayed by the Hellenes, some by the barbarians, not lose their glory, including among others what was the cause of their waging war on each other».
In exploring the ancients we learn something about ourselves as well because the emotions generated and the dilemmas of judgment forced upon the characters are timeless and integral parts of the human condition.