For the first discussion, we
concentrated on the
question of what makes a good
history and talked about the ways in which Herodotus does and does not
matches up to our expectations for a first class historian In
preparing your essay, you might discuss how Herodotus does/does not
include any of the following ements that make for a good history (Fall
2017 ideas mixed with those from earlier semesters).
2. Good story telling/handling of narrative
3. Clear purpose
5. Deals well with causality
7. Big picture
8. Provides background
9. Pays attention to biography/geneaology
10. Takes into account cultural differences
11. Takes into account language/linguistics
12. Shows how past relates to present
13. Uses primary sources
14. Passion and enthusiasm (Wow! This is cool!)
15. Brings an axe to class
16. Is aware of audience
17. Shows humanity/humility
18. Lots of details
19. Uses personal experiences/travel experiences
21. Evaluates sources well/uses verifiable
22. Accurate (gets chronology, geography, other
23. Deals with cause/effect, change over time
24. Well organized
25. Distinguishes trivial from important
27. Shows both sides of an issue/considers
28. Uses personal experience
29. Uses humor
31. Distinguishes opinion from analysis
32. Broad conception of historians task
(cultural, social, political, etc. included)
33. Deals well with cultural conflicts
34. Deals well with biography (makes people
real, has insights into character)
35. Deals with great human themes
c. Male/female relationships
37. Maps—deals with geography
38. Leads reader, but lets reader draw own
39. Easy to understand
Remember that Herodotus is our main source for the Persian War and
of our only sources for the early history of Sparta and Athens--and
even for some aspects of Persian history. In addition to
Marathon, Salamis, etc., Herodotus gives us most/much of what we know
about Solon, Lycurgus, Croessus, Pisistratos, etc.
The second Herodotus discussion continued to concentrate on the ways
Herodotus does/does not meet our expectations for a first-class
Historian. Some of my questions:
· A good history is reliable. Is Herodotus
reliable? What parts most reliable? What parts least
(Cf. Howe and Wells “A Commentary on Herodotus.”)
· Sources: what are Herodotus sources?
he getting his information? (Note first—travels. Note also
priests in Egypt/Delphi—Dolphin’s back story: and to prove it, we have
at Delphi an image of a man on Dolphin! Note also tripods,
· Sources don’t always agree. How does Herodotus
with multiple accounts of events? How good is his judgment?
· What are the problems with Herodotus’s
sources? Cf. Smerdis story.
· What about Book 3 speeches—Herodotus insists
speeches were really made. Yes?
· Good historian combines lots of skills.
does Herodotus do in addition to history? (Geography, political
science, cultural anthropology, etc.—but also Theology and Philosophy)
· Herodotus as cultural anthropologist.
does he treat cultures different than his own? What is natural
way to treat such cultures? (Note: this is good custom, this not
so good. Note also the sleeping with boys: says Persians learned
it from the Greeks! Todd’s joke.)
· Note philosophy/theology here. What is
philosophy of history? What is history for? What does he
see as driving force in history?
· What is Herodotus’ attitude toward the
Similar to Homer? Different? What about question of fate?
Is there a kind of karma in history? What about in your life?
· “All history is biography,” said
good is Herodotus at biography? At showing how individual human choices
affect history? Note Darius, Xerxes, Themistocles, Gelon of