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Herodotus: The History [Paperback]

By Herodotus (Author)
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Item description for Herodotus: The History by Herodotus...

Describes the background of Herodotus and his times, and shares his account and observations on the war between the Greeks and Persians

Publishers Description
David Grene, one of the best known translators of the Greek classics, splendidly captures the peculiar quality of Herodotus, the father of history.
Here is the historian, investigating and judging what he has seen, heard, and read, and seeking out the true causes and consequences of the great deeds of the past. In his "History," the war between the Greeks and Persians, the origins of their enmity, and all the more general features of the civilizations of the world of his day are seen as a unity and expressed as the vision of one man who as a child lived through the last of the great acts in this universal drama.
In Grene's remarkable translation and commentary, we see the historian as a storyteller, combining through his own narration the skeletal "historical" facts and the imaginative reality toward which his story reaches. Herodotus emerges in all his charm and complexity as a writer and the first historian in the Western tradition, perhaps unique in the way he has seen the interrelation of fact and fantasy.
"Reading Herodotus in English has never been so much fun. . . . Herodotus crowds his fresco-like pages with all shades of humanity. Whether Herodotus's view is 'tragic, ' mythical, or merely common sense, it provided him with a moral salt with which the diversity of mankind could be savored. And savor it we do in David Grene's translation."--Thomas D'Evelyn, "Christian Science Monitor"
"Grene's work is a monument to what translation intends, and to what it is hungry to accomplish. . . . Herodotus gives more sheer pleasure than almost any other writer."--Peter Levi, "New York Times Book Review

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Item Specifications...

Studio: University Of Chicago Press
Pages   699
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.25" Width: 5.25" Height: 8"
Weight:   1.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jan 15, 1988
Publisher   University Of Chicago Press
ISBN  0226327728  
ISBN13  9780226327723  

Availability  178 units.
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More About Herodotus

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Few facts are known about the life of Herodotus. He was born around 490 BC in Halicarnassus, on the south-west coast of Asia Minor. He seems to have travelled widely throughout the Mediterranean world, including Egypt, Africa, the area around the Black Sea and throughout many Greek city-states, of both the mainland and the islands. A sojourn in Athens is part of the traditional biography, and there he is said to have given public readings of his work and been friends with the playwright Sophocles. He is said also to have taken part in the founding of the colony of Thurii in Italy in 443 BC. He probably died at some time between 415 and 410 BC. His reputation has varied greatly, but for the ancients and many moderns he well deserves the title (first given to him by Cicero) of 'the Father of History'.
John Marincola was born in Philadelphia in 1954, and was educated at Swarthmore College, the University of Pennsylvania, and Brown University. He has taught at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts, and at Union College in New York, and is currently an Associate Professor of Classics at New York University. From 1997 to 1999 he was Executive Director of the American Philological Association, and in 1999-2000 he was a Junior Fellow at the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, DC. He is the author of Authority and Tradition in Ancient Historiography (Cambridge, 1997), Greek Historians (Greece and Rome New Surveys in the Classics 31, Oxford 2001), and of several articles on the Greek and Roman historians. He is currently at work on a book on Hellenistic historiography.

Herodotus has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Everyman's Library Classics & Contemporary Classics
  2. Oxford World's Classics (Paperback)
  3. Penguin Classics
  4. Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Ancient > Ancient
2Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Greece > General
3Books > Subjects > History > World > General
4Books > Subjects > History > World
5Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Classics
6Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General
7Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism

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Reviews - What do customers think about Herodotus: The History?

Great translation--how do you pronounce the translator's name?  Apr 29, 2008
Having had a couple years of Greek in college (just enough to be dangerous) I have to say Grene's translation looks to me the most literal and readable at the same time. The old Rawlinson translation is stylish but not as close to the Greek as Grene. de Selincourt's Penguin classics effort loses style points compared to Rawlinson, and yet manages to perhaps be even a bit further from the Greek. Waterfield's Oxford classics just reads as flat and featureless as the Wall Street Journal's finance pages, and yet isn't very close to the Greek either! Grene alone seems to open a contemporary English speaker's ears to hear how Herodotus would sound if you were actually a Greek speaker of the 5th century BC (and isn't that exactly what we want our translators to do for us?). I like his point that with the Homeric overtones, Herodotus should sound just a bit "odd" a little archaic, yet lively. I think Grene hit the mark right on the head, and of course Herodotus himself is a gas. Totally entertaining, and highly recommended.

On a side note, does anyone know how to pronounce Mr. Grene's name? I realize he's Irish, but it's an unusal name and I've never heard it pronounced...
One of the best books I've read.  Apr 16, 2008
A lot of the approbation or criticism of a book like this has to do with the accuracy of the translation, which is something I'm not an expert in. What I can say about it is that this translation reads like a novel. It leaves you with the impression that Herodotus is telling you a story, rather than the impression that you are reading a bit of ancient Greek literature translated by some stodgy classicist.

The story itself is excellent. Basically, it's the story of the rise of the Persian Empire, culminating in the war with the Greeks. It covers things like the battles Marathon, and Thermopylae. But it's much more than that. Herodotus surveys the geography and cultures of the people who existed during that time. Much of what he recounts is hearsay and mythology, which I imagine can be frustrating for the historian but is actually very entertaining and fascinating for the general reader. There are also numerous short stories interspersed with the larger narrative, especially in the earlier chapters.

This is a fantastic book, which I think even people who normally wouldn't read classics would enjoy. In fact, I think this books is most comparable to a book like "The Lord of the Rings". If you enjoyed that, and you like history too, then you'll probably like this book.
Good version of "The History"  Dec 2, 2006
David Grene's translation of Herodotus' "The History" is a good version of the Greek historian's magnum opus.

The Introduction provides context for the translation to come. It is useful and functional, although Knox' introductions to The Iliad and The Odyssey (Fagles' translations) strike me as better at putting the work in its place. Nonetheless, the Introduction is serviceable. Grene notes of Herodotus' work that" "There are two worlds of meaning that are constantly in Herodotus' head. The one is that of human calculation, reason, cleverness, passion, happiness. There, one knows what is happening and, more or less, who is the agent of cause. The other is the will of Gods, or fate, or the intervention of daimons."

In the History itself, Herodotus ranges widely geographically, and considers many different countries. With these, he discusses in detail such varied matters as hygiene, sex, culture, animals, religion, geographical features, and so on. He appears to have tried to ascertain as best as he could what the actuality was and what hearsay or rumor was. One of the more interesting examples of this is his effort to understand the role of Helen in the Trojan War (2, 120). Here, he doubts the veracity of Homer's rendering of the causes of the war. He believes that Helen never did go to Troy, because Priam would not have been willing to risk his empire over one woman. At other places, he clearly states the different versions of some incident and then renders his own best judgment as to what he thought the reality was. In short, he did not simply retell tales that he heard. When he is not sure what actually happened, he says so (e.g., 1, 49; 1, 75).

In the end, Herodotus has done a great service for many generations, by putting down, as best he could, his understanding of the history of the various actors of his time and before. The reader will find it difficult to keep all the people and countries straight. The volume features a useful set of maps, providing a sense of the different countries mentioned, as well as the travels of armies on conquests.

The book moves ahead in a majestic trajectory to ultimately describe the Persian-Greek War, with Xerxes leading his great force into Greece. Herodotus provides detail on many aspects of this conflict, which the Greeks eventually won, after battles at Thermopylae, Salamis, and Platea.

For an early effort at history, Herodotus' work is important to be aware of. And Grene's translation makes the work accessible to readers today.
Good modern translation of the First Historian.   Feb 2, 2006
I have always thought of Herodotus as boring, full of digressions and hot air. He is, however, the First Historian, and therefore needs to be digested by any educated person. I first tried the Rawlinson translation,The Histories (Everyman's Library (Paper)) managed to struggle through it, but found it turgid and indeed boring. I then looked at Walter Blanco's translation in the Norton Critical Edition.Herodotus: The Histories : New Translation, Selections, Backgrounds, Commentaries (Norton Critical Editions) Blanco's version is easier to read than Rawlinson's, but is full of modern American casualisms which seemed incongruous. Blanco's version is also incomplete, and if I were going to read Herodotus, I wanted to read his entire story, just not selections. Some of Blanco's omissions are significant, including most of Book IX, which contains most of the incidents that link the history of Herodotus to that of Thucydides.The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War

I then read David Grene's translation. I still found the early sections on the history of Egypt and Persia and all the digressions about the Scythians and Libyans tedious, but Grene's language is easy to follow and appropriate to the subject, and as I continued reading the narrative began to flow and became quite enjoyable. (I haven't read the MacaulayThe Histories (Barnes & Noble Classics) or SelincourtThe Histories (Penguin Classics) translations.)

R.G. Collingwood in "The Idea of History" The Idea of History: With Lectures 1926-1928rates Herodotus, with all his faults, as superior to Thucydides. This surprised me, as I had always heard Thucydides held up as the paradigm of what a true historian should be. But Collingwood has a point. With all his digressions, myths, and tall tales, Herodotus does his best to evaluate his sources and then tries to tell us as best he can what actually happened, without taking sides and without pointing morals. Thucydides wants to teach and has a definite moral point of view, which no doubt influenced his selection and presentation of the facts.

Herodotus should be read and digested by every educated person, and David Grene's translation makes that easier to do.
Excellent, also try others  Jan 3, 2006
The translation, as I see it, makes this classic contemporary but also brings one--perhaps--into ancient minds that are like ours but also unlike ours. Nothing will ever be perfect here until educated people in this culture become scholars of Greek again, like that'll ever happen.

Kudos to Sally from Florida down below who is reading such Classics to fill in the gaps in her education. Sally, you are scarcely alone and I can cite endless examples of recent conscientious graduates from decent-to-great schools who feel the same way. Curiously, while we have been emphasizing education in the cultures of other "peoples," we've simultaneously been ignoring or actively dismantling the history and traditions of this culture. I'm stunned that anyone can complain about Euro-centrism and related bug-a-boos when few college graduates know anything at all about Euro-American history or culture!

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