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Lecture

Herodotus Sections 1.94 - 216


Department
Classics
Course Code
CLA232H1
Professor
Victoria Wohl

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CLA232 Greeks and BarbariansWednesday February 2nd 2011
Herodotus 1.94 - 216
One of the forms of alterity the Greeks used to define themselves
Weve already seen it wasnt as black and white as we may have thought (everything
about the Greeks must be good and everything about the barbarians MUST be bad)
but there were many gray areas
Solon and Croesus represent different and competing values the Greek definition of
happiness vs. the Asian definition of happiness (the Asians thinking it means power
and wealth, Greeks think it means a glorious death, virtue, honouring the gods)
This cultural difference will become both the cause of the war and the stakes in the
war (what were fighting for is the Greek definition)
Complex interdependence between Croesus and Solon (when he is about to be
burned he finally understands Solons wisdom, so Croesus learns through Solon and
we learn through Croesus)
Today we will look more in depth at Herodotus and the relationship between cultural
difference and cultural conflict
He balances cultural difference and conflict
Books 1 4 are largely ethnography Books 5 9 are largely descriptions of the war,
but both sections are completely dependent on each other
The story of ethnography leads up to the war
How culture causes war, etc.
Intertwining of cultural difference and cultural conflict
Subtly of Herodotus description of the barbarian and other
There isnt just a xenophobic Greek perspective of the barbarians, but attempts to
see the Persians through Persian eyes and even to see the Greeks through Persian
eyes
Herodotus
In the Archaic period, there was much interaction between Persia and Greece ,and
the Greeks borrowed a lot from Persian culture
In this period, the rich and elite of Greece looked to Persia for their model (like the
early history of NA, modeling their culture after Europe)
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CLA232 Greeks and BarbariansWednesday February 2nd 2011
Herodotus 1.94 - 216
The Greek elite dressed like Persians, borrowed cultural practices like symposium
So, there is a lot of overlap between Persia and Greece at this time
After the Persian wars, however, the Persians came to represent the non-Greeks, and
they abandon any similarities to the Persians
So they go from a period of cultural similarity to a period of cultural differentiation
It was after the Persian Wars that the idea of Asians as effeminate example:
Eurymedon Vase
Herodotus was born in Halicarnassus, the southern coast of Turkey (Greek
colonized)
Cyrus takes over these colonies in the 6th century
In 499 BC, the Ionians revolt, and sparks the start of the Persian War
Ionia as a place had a lot of cultural mixing
They were Greek speaking people living on the coast of Asia, ruled by an Asian king
So, while Herodotus is Greek and gives us a Greek perspective, he also has an
insiders view of Asia
Furthermore, Herodotus seems to have travelled to many of the places he writes
about
Historie is to view and see
Greece is always Herodotus standard, talks about foreign places from the Greek
standard, and how they differ from Greece
Almost seems non-judgemental though (example: when Cyrus chooses to burn 12
Lydian boys with Croesus, instead of saying That horrifying barbarian he tries to
understand it and proposes that Cyrus possibly pledged them to a god)
Herodotus motto is: Custom is king. Becomes Herodotus’ working method, assumes
that all cultures respect their own customs more than others
He thus tries to get multiple perspectives on events, because if everyones cultural
perspectives are different, they’ll have different perspectives
He does see the barbarian through Greek eyes (custom is king, so he sees them
through his own custom) but he also tries to see the Greeks through Persian eyes
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