Histories

Histories

Summary

Traditionally known as the Father of History, the Greek writer Herodotus(c. 484-420 BC), was the first man to tell a story in prose on the scale of the ILIAD and the ODYSSEY. His subject is the war between the Persians and the Greeks but, in order to explain how this war came about, he also describes the rise of the Persian empire and analyses the causes of its conflict with neighbouring states. Despite its remoteness from our own time, this is a fascinating story, told by a great writer. Herodotus has a powerful narrative style and penetrating eye for character. The great men of the age are vividly described and extraordinary details of customs, places and even the weather are sketched in. Herodotus is not merely an historian; he is also a political commentator, a geographer, an anthropologist and a philosopher. Yet events are described swiftly in simple sentences and drama is rarely far away. The continuing relevance of the HISTORIES to our time has been vividly highlighted by the extensive allusions to the book in Michael Ondaatje's novel THE ENGLISH PATIENT. The film of THE ENGLISH PATIENT in which the role of Herodotus' HISTORIES is even more pronounced opens in Britain in March 1997 after colossal success in the US.

About the author

Herodotus

TOM HOLLAND is the author of Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic, which won the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. Persian Fire, his history of the Graeco-Persian wars, won the Anglo-Hellenic League's Runciman Award in 2006. His most recent book, In the Shadow of the Sword, describes the collapse of Roman and Persian power in the Near East, and the emergence of Islam.

He has adapted Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides and Virgil for the BBC, and is the presenter of BBC Radio 4's Making History. In 2007, he was the winner of the Classical Association Prize awarded to 'the individual who has done most to promote the study of the language, literature and civilisation of Ancient Greece and Rome'. He served two years as the Chair of the Society of Authors 2009-11.

PAUL CARTLEDGE is the inaugural A. G. Leventis Professor of Greek Culture at the University of Cambridge. His numerous books include Sparta and Lakonia: A Regional History 1300-362 BC; The Greeks: A Portrait of Self and Others; Thermopylae: The Battle That Changed the World; Ancient Greece. A Very Short Introduction; and After Thermopylae: The Oath of Plataea and the End of the Graeco-Persian Wars. He is an Honorary Citizen of Sparta, Greece and holds the Gold Cross of the Order of Honour conferred by the President of the Hellenic Republic.
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