CG311 Greek Prose: Herodotus' Histories

Prof. Michael Arnush Ladd 209 x5462
marnush@skidmore.edu Hours: MF 12-1
Web Resources

On Herodotus of Halicarnassus, by Thomas Martin (College of the Holy Cross)
"Sophists were not the only thinkers to emerge with new ideas in the mid-fifth century. In historical writing, for example, Hecataeus of Miletus, born in the later sixth century B.C., had earlier opened the way to a broader and more critical vision of the past. He wrote both an extensive guide book to illustrate his map of the world as he knew it and a treatise criticizing mythological traditions of the past. Most Greek historians who came after him concentrated on the histories of their local areas and wrote in a spare, chronicle-like style that made history into little more than a list of events and geographical facts. Herodotus of Halicarnassus (c. 485-425 B.C.), however, building on the foundations laid by Hecataeus, made his Histories a ground-breaking work in its wide geographical scope, its critical approach to historical evidence, and its lively narrative. To describe and explain the clash between East and West represented by the wars between Persians and Greeks in the early fifth century, Herodotus searched for the origins of the conflict both by delving deep into the past and by examining the cultural traditions of all the peoples involved. His interest in ethnography recognized the importance and the delight of studying the cultures of others as a component of historical investigation" ["Herodotus' New Kind of Historical Writing," in An Overview of Classical Greek History from Homer to Alexander, by T. Martin (Perseus)]
Labelled both as the "Father of History" (pater historiae, Cicero Laws 1.5) and the "Father of Lies" (pater fabularum, a favorite epithet employed by 18th-19th century German classicists), Herodotus of Halicarnassus has had a profound effect on a variety of disciplines and areas of intellectual inquiry: history and historiography, ethnography, archaeology, linguistics, literature, narratology, sociology, anthropology and gender studies. We will examine Herodotus and his Histories from a number of these perspectives (and others) and assess the quality of his contributions to western thought, read selected sections of his work in Greek and all of it in English, and discuss scholarship that sheds light on various aspects of Herodotus, historiography and his times. You will develop a greater proficiency in Greek grammar and syntax, acquire a vocabulary of Herodotean discourse, and examine aspects of the literary genre of historiography as created by Herodotus.

Students in CG311 Greek Prose: Herodotus' Histories will demonstrate the ability

  • to read continuous prose, employing skills developed in elementary, intermediate and advanced levels
  • to effect the transition from grammar-based learning to reading comprehension
  • to contextualize Herodotus' Histories in its larger cultural settings, including:
    • biographical details about the author
    • corpus of works of the author
    • literary world of the author
    • political/social aspects of the setting of the text
  • to use print and digital sources to read the text and conduct research
  • to present in written and oral form analyses of secondary sources (scholarship)
  • to present in written and oral form an original piece of research
As you hone your skills as a student of Greek literature you will develop your own perspectives, methodologies and solutions to some of the vexing questions that the study of Herodotus raises. It is absolutely essential that you take credit for your own work, and give credit to others when you draw upon their ideas and words.

Accordingly, plagiarism and cheating of all sorts will not be tolerated in this course and are grounds for an "F". Be sure to read carefully the Academic Integrity Handbook, summarized on the Ethics of Scholarship webpage. For each assignment, please refer to the Academic Integrity Checklist as well.

All members of the College community are bound by Skidmore's Honor Code, included here:

"I hereby accept membership in the Skidmore College Community and, with full realization of the responsibilities inherent in membership, do agree to adhere to honesty and integrity in all relationships, to be considerate of the rights of others, and to abide by the college regulations."