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4. Barbarians in Herodotus' Histories
About this Lecture
In this module, we move from Aeschylus’ Persians to Herodotus’ Histories, focusing in particular on: (i) when Herodotus’ Histories was written and ‘published’, and what we mean by ‘published’ in this case; (ii) the ending of Herodotus’ Histories, which features a jump back in time to the very beginning of the Persian Empire; (iii) the opening of Herodotus’ Histories, which acknowledges “great and wondrous deeds” on the part of both Greeks and non-Greeks; (iv) the extent to which Herodotus’ Histories are innovative, the nature of that innovation, and its relevance for his conception of Greeks and non-Greeks; (v) Herodotus’ theory of historical causation and its impact on the presentation of Greeks and non-Greeks in his Histories; and (vi) the fundamental similarity between the Persian and Athenian Empires.
In this course, Professor Lynette Mitchell (University of Exeter) explores the presentation of Persians and other non-Greeks (‘barbarians’) in Aeschylus’ Persians and Herodotus’ Histories. In the first module, we offer a brief history of the concept of ‘barbarian’ in Greek thought, focusing in particular on the idea of ‘barbarianism’ in early lyric poetry and the division of the world into a Greek Europe and barbarian Asia in the work of Hecataeus (c. 550-576 BC). In the second and third modules, we think about the presentation of ‘the barbarian’ in Aeschylus’ Persians, before turning in the fourth and fifth modules to consider how Herodotus develops the idea of the barbarian in his Histories. Finally, in the sixth module, we think about the extent to which Herodotus is a reliable source for Persian history and, indeed, whether we should think of Herodotus’ Histories as a ‘history’ at all.
Throughout this course, we use Edith Hall’s translation of Aeschylus’ Persians (Aris and Philips Classical Texts, 1996) and Robin Waterfield’s translation of Herodotus’ Histories (Oxford World Classics, 2008) unless otherwise stated.
Lynette Mitchell is Professor in Greek History and Politics at the University of Exeter. She is primary a Greek historian specialising in Greek political history from the archaic period (8th century BC) to the death of Alexander, although she is also interested in later periods (especially the Hellenistic) and in other areas of Classics and Ancient History, including Greek language and historiography. Some of her recent publications include (as co-editor with C. Melville) Every Inch a King: Comparative Studies on Kings and Kingship in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds (2013) and The Heroic Rulers of Archaic and Classical Greece (2013).
Cite this Lecture
Mitchell, L. (2021, February 10). Invention of the Barbarian – Aeschylus and Herodotus - Barbarians in Herodotus' Histories [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/invention-of-the-barbarian-aeschylus-and-herodotus/barbarians-in-herodotus-histories
Mitchell, L. "Invention of the Barbarian – Aeschylus and Herodotus – Barbarians in Herodotus' Histories." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 10 Feb 2021, https://www.massolit.io/courses/invention-of-the-barbarian-aeschylus-and-herodotus/barbarians-in-herodotus-histories