& # 8220 ; The History & # 8221 ; Essay, Research Paper
Herodotus` Essay Example
Herodotus, in his book The History, tells us a good trade about how, in the class of the fifth Century, the Greeks came to specify themselves by projecting & # 8220 ; savages & # 8221 ; as a negative foil for those traits which they admired in themselves. By? savages? , Herodotus means the? Others? , those who were non Grecian or European. The Iranian Wars marked something of a watershed in this respect. Prior to the 480s the Grecian position of their eastern neighbours did non look to hold been overly negative or hostile. Following the Iranian Wars, nevertheless, Easterners came to be portrayed in dyslogistic footings. Harmonizing to Herodotus? , they were seen as decadent and effeminate, in big portion due to their inordinate wealth and & # 8220 ; soft & # 8221 ; populating. Their slavish life styles, peculiarly in their willingness to function absolute tyrants and their grotesque usage of castrate, the pattern of Circumcision, and their unusual Gods further distinguished them from the Greeks. By contrast, Herodotus? viewed the Greeks as virile and independent, proudly contending in defence of their metropoliss, their households, their Gods, and for their ain freedom and self-respect. Therefore, the subject of The History of Herodotus is the battle between the East and the West. The East, represented by the Persian Empire, signified dictatorship and subjugation. The West, represented by the Grecian city states, signified freedom. As Herodotus interprets the Iranian Wars we see the beginnings of Western Civilization and the association of that tradition with freedom.
The Greeks had ever been cognizant that foreign, barbaric peoples worshipped different Gods and had imposts different from their ain. The rise of ethnographic surveies, nevertheless, encouraged a systematic scrutiny of the nature of human civilization and society. To the Greeks this suggested that imposts which they had ever taken to be founded in changeless Godhead power, sanctioned by the Olympic Gods, were in fact simply human innovations which other societies either ignored or straight contravened. Herodotus? model, in The History, is that of Grecian involvement. He provides a series of premises of Greek pattern that can be contrasted with barbaric manners of behaviour.
Herodotus? description of the East begins with a land that is nighest to Greece, Lydia- an? in between? state. In Lydia we see a male monarch who is fascinated by Greece, Greek Gods, Grecian penetrations and Grecian friendly relationship. Herodotus besides introduces a upseting sexual aberrance in the narrative of Candaules, a Lydian. ? This Candaules fell in love with his ain married woman? . ? ( The History of Herodotus, Grene, Book 1, chapters 8, p. 36 ) . He was so in love with his married woman that he asked his escort Gyges to see his married woman naked. Candaules reasoned that, ? Gyges, I do non believe that you recognition me when I tell you about the beauty of my married woman ; for so work forces? s ears are duller agents of beliefs than their eyes. Contrive, so that you see her naked. ? ( The History of Herodotus, Grene, Book 1, chapters 8, p. 36 ) . The fact that Candaules has fallen in love with his ain married woman is upseting to Herodotus and the Greeks. However, for any adult male or adult females to be seen bare is black to both the Greeks and the savages. ? For among the Lydians and so among the generalization of the savages, for even a adult male to be seen bare is an juncture of great shame ( The History of Herodotus, Grene, Book 1, chapters 10, p. 37 ) .
Herodotus describes the faith of the savages as grotesque particularly in their usage of castrate, the pattern of Circumcision, and their unusual Gods in comparing with the Grecian faith. For illustration, Herodotus discusses a series of cardinal Greek thoughts toward forfeits ; the outlook that blood will be shed, that meat will be boiled over wood, that animate beings instead than worlds will be killed, that vino will be used, that there will be an act of pouring, etc. However, in Sctythia these traditions are foreign: animate beings are killed by choking instead than by knife, the carcases may be roasted over firing castanetss instead than wood, and the victim is sometimes human, the vino is poured over the human victims caput. ( The History of Hero
dotus, Grene, Book 4.60-4 ) .
Their inordinate wealth as noted in Herodotus? histories of the celebrity of Gyges & # 8217 ; wealth and the munificent nature of Croesus & # 8217 ; offerings at Delphi, made the savages? soft? compared to the Greeks who were frugal in their life and in their offerings to the Gods ( The History of Herodotus, Grene, Book 1, chapters 50-51,71 ) . To Herodotus, this behaviour made the savages easier to suppress, but besides more likely to spread out.
Herodotus does non see Greece as a individual incorporate state. The place of Sparta frequently serves as a kind of internal Greek? Other. ? The burial imposts of Spartan male monarchs are explicitly linked to barbaric patterns. The tribunal narratives, particularly those refering Leotychides? and Demartus? births and heritages, are similar to those practiced in the East ( The History of Herodotus, Grene, Book 6, chapters 58-89 ) . Herodotus besides associated Spartan military tactics, for illustration the shamble of the Spartan military personnels before the Battle of Plataea, with those of savages ( The History of Herodotus, Grene, Book 90 ) .
The savages? slavish life manner, peculiarly the Persian willingness to function absolute tyrants like Xerxes was the most important difference between them and the Greeks. Greece was perceived as a centre of democracy and single freedom. The people of Athens were strong and fought for their political and societal freedom and the Grecian people were allowed to show themselves with unafraid candor. However, the people of Persia were soft. They did non care about their rights but instead about their wealth and luxuries. Therefore, Persia was seen as a centre of dictatorship and subjugation where a nervy atmosphere hung over the people and no 1 was allowed to talk freely.
In some instances, nevertheless, both the savages and the Greeks act likewise. The pledged understanding between Alyattes and Cyaxares, were made in the same mode Grecian understandings were made, by cutting the tegument of their weaponries and creaming one another? s blood Gods ( The History of Herodotus, Grene, Book 1, chapters 74 ) . When both sides are discoursing their schemes for conflict in Book 8, the Greeks every bit good as the Persians refrain from their freedom of address. The Iranian argument re-centers the familiar ambiance, Xerxes does non even inquire for sentiment himself, but Mardonius does the oppugning for him ; Queen Artemisia is the merely 1 to talk honestly. Themistocles besides is to talk no more freely than his Iranian opposite numbers ( The History of Herodotus, Grene, Book 8, chapters 60-70, p. 576-581 ) . Besides, at this point in the book, Herodotus? makes another striking comparing between the Persians and the Greeks. Herodotus describes the opportunism of the Iranian grandees while both sides are discoursing their schemes. This he associates with Greeks and hence concludes that angling for personal advantage is non confined to one side ( The History of Herodotus, Grene, Book 8, chapters 60-70, p. 576-581 ) .
Therefore, in Herodotus? The History, the development of civilisation moves toward a great confrontation between Persia and Greece, which are presented as the centres, severally, of Eastern and Western civilization. The clang of civilizations is prevailing from get downing to stop: that the peoples of Europe are different from those of Asia in cardinal ways that has made struggle between them inevitable. Herodotus, in The History, relates the behaviour of all savages as contrast with that of the Greeks. However, there were some occasions when the savages did act like the Greeks, as with subscribing understandings. There were besides times when the Greeks acted like the savages, as in their inability to show their freedom of address at the treatment of schemes before conflict. But these cases are few. Therefore, Herodotus theory is that any non-Greek will move in a mode that is in contrast of that of a Grecian behaviour in the same state of affairs. The Grecian form is considered superior. For these grounds the West-Greece-is idea of as defending the cause of political and single freedom while the East-Asia Minor is that of being under the slavish regulation of Dynastic Kings.