GREEK 101 – Herodotus



Radcliffe G. Edmonds III

Office: Thomas 245

Office Phone: 526-5046


Carpenter 15

MWF 11:00-12:00

Office Hours: MWF 9:00-10:00

or by appointment




Required Texts:

Selections from Herodotus, edited by A. Barbour. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN: 0806114274

Herodotus: Book 1 (Bryn Mawr Commentary), edited by G. A. Sheets. Hackett Press. ISBN: 0929524136

The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories, edited by Robert Strassler. Anchor Press. ISBN: 978-1400031146


Suggested Texts:

Liddell, H. G. Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, 7th edition. Oxford University Press. ISBN: 0199102066.



Course Description:


            Greek 101 introduces the student to one of the greatest prose authors of ancient Greece, the historian, Herodotus.  The "Father of History", as Herodotus is sometimes called, wrote one of the earliest lengthy prose texts extant in Greek literature in the Ionian dialect of Greek.  His historie or inquiry into the events surrounding the invasions by the Persian empire against the Greek city-states set the precedent for all subsequent historical writings, although his aims and methods have always remained controversial (as the sneers of his near contemporary, Thucydides, attest).  The "Father of Lies", as he is also sometimes known, wove into his history a number of fabulous and entertaining anecdotes and tales.  Although these stories have often been dismissed as meaningless digressions or credulous traveler's tales, each story is neatly crafted within the larger framework of the work, not only providing interesting diversions for the reader but linking together many of Herodotus' themes and ideas within the work.  Herodotus remains the primary (and often only) source for much information about the culture and history of Greece and the other societies around the Mediterranean basin in the Archaic period.

            Through reading the prose narrative of Herodotus, students will gain fluency in the reading of ancient Greek prose and develop strategies for the comprehension of the text.  The class will provide opportunities to review the morphology and syntax of the Greek language and to build upon the vocabulary learned in the first year, as well as to learn the differences in HerodotusŐ Ionian dialect from the dialects of Attic and Koine.  Students will also expand their understanding of the cultural context in which Herodotus worked, as well as the tradition of historiography that stems from his work.  The course will also introduce students to the tradition of scholarship, starting in antiquity, that has examined Herodotus and to the tools with which scholars ancient and modern have used to understand his narrative.


Course Requirements:


Class participation:

            Participation, of course, includes attendance, since you cannot participate if you are not in class.  If, for some reason, you cannot attend class, please inform me in advance.  In each class session, we will translate aloud from the portions of the text assigned for the week.  Please be prepared to translate any of the readings specified in the previous class session.  If, for some reason, you cannot prepare for class, please attend anyway - you will be better prepared for the next class. 

            We will also spend time discussing the characters and ideas that animate these texts, since Herodotus is not merely a prose stylist, but an engaging storyteller and a thoughtful historian.  We will regularly look at some secondary reading on the section of text covered in the classes for the week.  For each reading, one student will be responsible for introducing and starting discussion on the material, but every student is expected to contribute intelligently to the discussion.  The readings will be available on Moodle, and they can also be reached by link from the on-line version of the syllabus at:


Writing Assignments: 

            Two short writing assignments will be assigned for the class.  The first assignment will be an analysis of one of the traditional mythic stories Herodotus recounts in the course of his history, providing the background of the story as well as the ways in which it fits into Herodotus' larger narrative of the Persian War.  The second assignment will take the form of a textual and historical commentary on a short passage.  Students are encouraged to submit draft versions for comment before turning them in for a grade.



            There will be a short (10 minute) quiz every Monday on the material covered in the previous week.  One quiz may be missed without penalty, but there are no make-up quizzes.  If no quiz is missed, the lowest quiz grade may be dropped.  The quizzes are intended to ensure that you keep up with the readings and give you further practice to build your Greek syntax and vocabulary.



            There will be a mid-term and a final for this class on all the materials covered to that date in class.  The Midterm will be in class on the Friday following the Autumn break.  The Final Exam will be self-scheduled during the Exam period. 


Grade Distribution:

Class Participation                   15%

Written Assignments               10%

Quizzes                                    40%

Midterm Exam                                    15%

Final Exam                              20%




Week I: 

Introduction to Herodotus – Barbour pp. 2-7

Introduction to the Ionian dialect – Barbour pp. 8-46

Review of grammar and syntax

Herodotus Book I – Barbour, pp. 49-51 (Introduction and prelude)

Secondary Reading:  Herodotus Book I in English



Week II: 

Review of grammar and syntax

Review of Ionian dialect

Herodotus Book I – Barbour, pp. 51-55 (Gyges)

Secondary Reading: More on Gyges (Plato, Tragedy, Archilochus), Herodotus Books II-III in English



Week III: 

Herodotus Book I – Barbour, pp. 55-58 (Arion, Croesus & Solon)

Secondary Reading: Munson, "The Celebratory Purpose of Herodotus"



Week IV: 

Herodotus Book I – Barbour, pp. 58-61 (Croesus & Solon)

Secondary Reading: Hartog, "Myth into Logos: The Case of Croesus"



Week V: 

Herodotus Book I – Barbour, pp. 61-66 (Croesus)

Secondary Reading: Konstan, "The Stories in Herodotus' Histories: Book I"



Week VI: 

Herodotus Book I – Barbour, pp. 66-71 (Croesus & Peisistratus)

Secondary Reading:  Herodotus  Books IV-V in English

First Assignment Due Friday, October 12




Week VII: No Class! – Autumn Break




Week VIII:

Herodotus Book I – Barbour, pp. 71-75 (Lacedaimonians)


Secondary Reading: Dewald, Narrative Surface and Authorial Voice

Midterm Exam



Week IX:

Herodotus Book I – Barbour, pp. 75-80 (Downfall of Croesus)

Secondary Reading: Fehling, "The Art of Herodotus and the Margins of the World"


Week X: 

Herodotus Book I – Barbour, pp. 80-88 (Cyrus)

Secondary Reading:  Rank, "The Myth of the Birth of the Hero"



Week XI: 

Herodotus Book I – II  - Barbour, pp. 88-99 (Cyrus, Cambyses & Egypt)

Secondary Reading: Redfield, "Herodotus the Tourist"



Week XII: 

Herodotus Book III – Barbour, pp. 118-127 (Polycrates & Smerdis)

Secondary Reading: Plutarch, On the Malice of Herodotus


Thanksgiving - no class Friday



Week XIII: 

Herodotus Book III – Barbour, pp. 127-135 (Darius)

Secondary Reading:  Darius monument, Herodotus Books VI-VII in English



Week XIV: 

Herodotus Book VII-VIII – Barbour, pp. 174-178, 196-204 (Salamis)

Secondary Reading: Aeschylus, Simonides, Herodotus Books VIII-IX in English

Commentary Assignment Due Friday, December 7



Week XV: 





Final Exam self-scheduled