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Lecture 5

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Lecture 5 - Jung Thursday, Feb. 7/2013 Herodotus - Explaining the Greek Miracle II • Miracle of Greek survival in the face of overwhelming do against the Persian invasion(s) • Herodotus chronicles this survival • Wrote prose historiai, “inquiries”, into the Greco-Persian wars (which probably happened when he was a kid) • Why did the Greeks and Persians make war upon each other? • Why/how did the Greeks win? • Herodotus represents these wars as a true “class of civilizations” • Greek freedom (democracy), simplicity, moderation vs Persian tyranny, luxury, drive for world domination • Placed the wars within the context of global history • His world view represents a more global perspective than Homer • Affects his view of myth profoundly • Halicarnassus was a melting-pot of peoples of the east Med • Greeks, Carians, Persians • Herodotus’Histories display a keen interest in foreign peoples and places • Herodotus himself visited many of these during his “inquiries” • Areal travel narrative vs the fantastic travel narrative of the Odyssey • Compare to Xenophanes, who also has a more global view • Both were exiled at young ages and wandered far and wide, comparing regions • Hereodotus global perspective encourages a critical stance toward even the most cherished myths of his own Greek nation • Traditional stories about the Trojan War, Heracles, etc, can and must be checked against the historical records, traditions and mythology of the wider Near Eastern world • 2 key intellectual influences: • Epics of Homer • Ionia • Herodotus combines the main themes of the Iliad and the Odyssey - war and travel - into a single “epic” narrative of awesome scope • Like Herodotus’histories, epic is a comprehensive, all=encompassing genre • He brings in any story that might have bearing • Gives you a world, as opposed to lyric poetry which gives you a fragment and an emotional experience • But at same time adopts a critical stance of Homer • Especially of Trojan war • Also incorporates and builds on myth • Distance from anthropomorphic gods but try and built on emotional resonance of old stories on a gateway to their philosophical doctrines • In the 6th and 5th centuries BC, the Greek cities of Ionia (WesternAsia Minor) witnessed a great flowering of scientific, philopshical and geographical... • One of the key aspects is the attempt to explain phenomena that were previouslye explained with fantastic elements, and now with rational • Excludes direct divine intervention Lecture 5 - Jung Thursday, Feb. 7/2013 • The Ionian revolution began systematic study of myth • Cataloguing • And rational analysis Hecataeus of Miletus • 6th century BC • One of the Ionian “logographers” • Author of influential works of geography, mythography • He tried to organize the many threads of Heroic lineages into a coherent whole • He also applied rational, critical, skeptical analysis to Greek myths • Cited by Herodotus, who follows and builds on his example • Rationalization: • Cerberus = Snake • Cerberus is often represente wth snakes growing out of body/neck • Says he wasn’t a three-headed dog but a mean snake that killed a lot of people who lived next to a cave that was reputed to be the entrance of the underworld • Before Herodotus ther were Ionian “logograpers” who composed histories of specific cities, especially the founding of cities • Herodotus starts by saying he s interested in achievement of all civilizations, not just Greeks • And the cause of hostility between Greeks and non-greeks • He goes back more than thousand years with a series of myths • Asurprising way to begin a history • These myths try and assign blame • Apear childish and trivial Histories • Persians say phoenicians started it, who went toArgos in trade • There they saw the princess Io, who was a babe, and abducted her and some other women • They sailed to Egypt - this is how Io got to Egypt, a rationalization of the myth • Later some Greeks stole Europa and took her to Greece • Then the Greeks sailed to Colchis and took Medea after completing “business” (getting the golden fleece) • Each generation remembers the wrongs done • Brings us to the Trojan war • Paris heard about this and decided to steal a wife from Greece, certain he would get away with it because none had been punished before • Greeks asked back, Trojans say that they never got Medea back so do they really expect to get Helen? • Greeks then were responsible for launching the invasion ofAsia • The Persians claim they don’t care about the abduction • Ever since then they have regarded the Greeks as their enemies • Persians then invade Greece • Herodotus says this is the account of Persians and Phoenicians - their logos Etymology • Historia means to inquire, to learny by inquiry Lecture 5 - Jung Thursday, Feb. 7/2013 • Strong relation to seeing and knowing Sources • Autopsy (seeing things for yourself) • Eyewitness testimony, heard directly from the source (e.g., veterans) • Eyewitness testimony, preserved in reliable written records (e.g. In Egypt) • Not (just) traditional, unconfirmed stories (muthoi) • Earliest Herdotous can get a grip on is Gyges • Gyges has left monuments and offerings behind at Delphi, which makes him tangible • Seeing and knowing • Applying original analysis to the data assembled from these trustworthy sources • Seeking overarching patterns of cause and effect • Respecting the individual... • Battlefield of Egyptians and Persians • Persian skulls brittle • Egyptian skulls thick • Thick because they shaved heads in childhood, so the bone thickened • This is an example of his rationalization and inquiry of cause and effect Historian vs logographers • The approach to myth attributed by Heroeodotus to the Persian logioi containes two key features associated wth logographers • Rationalizaiotn • Organization • See see an attempt to connect the dots, particularly in a chronological, linear order • Herodotus begins his work by establishing a lear line of demarcation between: • Myth-interpretation practices by his Ionian predecessors • Which catalogues, rationalizes the traditional stories and takes them largely as given • And his own historical method which probes recent events on Th. Basis of systemtic,e evidence-based investigation • But why does he attribute the cataloging approach to the persians (instead of the IOnians?) • To expose the ideological foundations of the interpretation of myth • Compare Csapo • Myth criticism-criticism • Why do the persians engage in myth-analysis at all (rather than history), when attempting to explain a historical phenomenon? • And why does their myth-analysis take this particular form? Tyranny • Not a healthy climate for historia • During a council of the Persians in B7 when Xerxes proposed the invasion of Greece, his uncle Artabanus warns against the venture • Artabanus gives a historical account, which Xerxes doesn’t like • Historia is only possible in ideal conditions • Greeks serving Xerxes keep quiet about the portent because telling the king would ensure their death Lecture 5 - Jung Thursday, Feb. 7/2013 • If you catch the tyrant in a bad mood, off goes your head • This is one of things Herodotus is trying to impress upon us • Greek freedom prevailed at salamis • Only in such a society that an inquiry such as Herodotus could have been made • Without the possibility of freedom, all you can do is play around myth which can be propagandist. Which is why logographers come from Persia, not historians • Some dissent is possible • So long as supports the Persian agenda (Phoenicians disagree that they abducted, the woman was willing in fact she had slept with captain and was preggers) • Greece = Freedom, rationalization of myth, leading to history • Persian = Tyranny, rationalization of myth, leading to silence • What does historia reveal? • Does not put Persians in good light - underdog story • Persian logioi display a cavalier attitude toward the abduction of women in Greek myth • This is in keeping with Herootus’overall characterization of Persians as disrespectful of sexual boundaries (or women) • Persians have many wives and concubines • Persians have sex in temples • So what fat awaited the Greeks? • Took the best looking boys, castrated them and turned them into eunuchs • Took the most attractive girls and sent them to the king as slaves • Persians method of myth-criticsm serves to characterize their values and ideology in subtler was as well • The myths of Io, Europa, the Golden leece, and the Trojan war are all unique • They occur with
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