Herodotus' sources - Was he reliable?

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ficino
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Herodotus' sources - Was he reliable?

Post by ficino » Wed Feb 04, 2015 1:56 am

Those interested in the problem of ancient writers' sources may find this review of interest. Boris Dunsch and Kai Ruffing edit a volume of conference papers on the sources of Herodotus. The review, by Jan P. Stronk, begins by outlining competing scholarly views of Herodotus' reliability, from -- in the 20th century -- Felix Jacoby, who saw Herodotus as a serious historian, to Detlev Fehling, who considered Herodotus close to a novelist. Now, says Stronk, the leading scholars are just trying to figure out how Herodotus used his sources.

Stronk reports that the longest paper, by Elizabeth Irwin, argues that book IX, on the great Persian invasion of Athens, was written after 413 BCE and is a response to Thucydides. This is quite a late date. I had to smile at this magisterial judgment of Stronk's:

"She adduces a considerable amount of evidence, ingenuity, and scholarship, but at the end she fails to completely convince me, though I admit her theory may be appealing to those who believe in multiple layers hidden in the Histories."

Here's the review:

http://www.bmcreview.org/2015/02/20150205.html

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Peter Kirby
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Re: Herodotus' sources - Was he reliable?

Post by Peter Kirby » Sun Feb 08, 2015 10:08 pm

This is interesting. We often fail even to ask the question of the ancient historians.
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

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DCHindley
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Re: Herodotus' sources - Was he reliable?

Post by DCHindley » Mon Feb 09, 2015 7:40 pm

ficino wrote:Those interested in the problem of ancient writers' sources may find this review of interest. Boris Dunsch and Kai Ruffing edit a volume of conference papers on the sources of Herodotus. The review, by Jan P. Stronk, begins by outlining competing scholarly views of Herodotus' reliability, from -- in the 20th century -- Felix Jacoby, who saw Herodotus as a serious historian, to Detlev Fehling, who considered Herodotus close to a novelist. Now, says Stronk, the leading scholars are just trying to figure out how Herodotus used his sources.

Stronk reports that the longest paper, by Elizabeth Irwin, argues that book IX, on the great Persian invasion of Athens, was written after 413 BCE and is a response to Thucydides. This is quite a late date. I had to smile at this magisterial judgment of Stronk's:

"She adduces a considerable amount of evidence, ingenuity, and scholarship, but at the end she fails to completely convince me, though I admit her theory may be appealing to those who believe in multiple layers hidden in the Histories."

Here's the review:

http://www.bmcreview.org/2015/02/20150205.html
Some years ago I bought the following book on Herodotus' historical method, which at the time kind of went over my head. Now I can see that it is firmly rooted in postmodern theory (which I prefer over simply assuming we "know" what Herodotus was up to).
Donald Lateiner, The historical method of Herodotus (1989)

CONTENTS

PREFACE ix

ABBREVIATIONS xi

Introduction 3
The Nature of the Investigation
The 'Difference' of Herodotus

PART ONE Rhetoric: How Herodotus Recreates the Past

1 A New Genre, a New Rhetoric 13
The Promise of the Proem
The Rhetoric of History: Narrative and Speech
Nonverbal Behaviours
Talking to the Reader
Beginnings
Endings
Conclusion

PART TWO The Presentation of His Research: The Historian's Power

Introduction to Part Two 55

2 Selection: Explicit Omission 59
Research Problems
Reticence
Inventory

3 Alternative Versions: The Reader's Autonomy 76
Inventory

4 Disputation: Herodotus' Use of Written Sources 91
Hecataeus
Hellenic Views
Hellenic Poets
Barbarian Authorities
Inventory of Herodotean Polemic

PART THREE Poiesis: How Herodotus Makes Sense of Historical Facts

Introduction to Part Three 111

5 The Place of Chronology 114
6 Limit, Propriety, and Transgression:
A Structuring Concept in the Histories 126
'Limit,' 'Transgression,' and Related Metaphors
The Subject of Women
Moral Principles in History

7 Ethnography as Access to History 145
Egyptians
Persians
Scythians
Greeks

8 Historiographical Patterning: 'The Constitutional Debate' 163
Structure and Patterns
The Hypotheses of the Participants
Autocrats in the Histories
Isonomia

PART FOUR Meaning and Method:
How Herodotus Makes Particulars Resonate

9 Event and Explanation: Herodotean Interpretations 189
The Nature of Causal Argument in Herodotus
Analogies in Herodotus and the Concept of Equalization
Five Systems of Explanation
Fact and Explanation in Herodotus

10 The Failure and Success of Herodotus 211
Introduction
The Isolation of Herodotus
Herodotus' and Subsequent Greek Notions of Historiography
Herodotus' Achievement

NOTES 229
SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY 293
INDEX LOCORUM 305
GENERAL INDEX 308
It gives one (and gave me) a lot to chew on.

DCH

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