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Herodotus: Histories: Book 7

4. Loyalty and Treachery

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In this module, we think about how Herodotus presents the question of unity and disunity among the Greeks in the run-up to the Persian Wars, focusing in particular on: (i) the Athenians’ and Spartans’ refusal to even enter negotiations with the Persians; (ii) the reasons that some states chose to side with the Persians, and how this mapped onto pre-existing political tensions; and (iii) the divided loyalties of those ‘caught in the middle’, e.g. Alexander of Macedon.


In this course, Dr Emma Aston (University of Reading) explores Book 7 of Herodotus’ Histories. We begin by thinking about Herodotus as a historian, the aims in his ‘Histories’, and the extent to which the ‘Histories’ represents both a continuation of and a break from the traditions of Greek historiography (and mythography). After that, we provide a broad overview of the Persian Wars (490-479 BC), before turning in the third module to the Battle of Thermopylae (480 BC). In the fourth module, we explore the theme of Greek unity in the face of the Persian threat – why did some Greek states choose to side with the Persians? – before moving on in the fifth module to consider Herodotus’ characterisation of Greeks and Persians in his Histories and how they are differentiated.


Dr Emma Aston is Associate Professor in the Department of Classics at the University of Reading. She has a longstanding interest in Greek religion, especially the depiction of deities in part-animal form, which was the subject of her 2011 book Mixanthrôpoi: Animal-Human Hybrid Deities in Greek Religion. She is currently working on a book on the culture and identity of Thessaly from the 7th to the 2nd century BC. She is also editing an unpublished monograph by the late scholar of Greek religion and myth, Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Aston, E. (2019, March 14). Herodotus: Histories: Book 7 - Loyalty and Treachery [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Aston, E. "Herodotus: Histories: Book 7 – Loyalty and Treachery." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 14 Mar 2019,

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