GREEK 101 – Herodotus



Radcliffe G. Edmonds III

Office: Thomas 245

Office Phone: 526-5046


Carpenter 15

MWF 11:00-12:00

Office Hours: WF 10-11, F 2:30-4

or by appointment




Required Texts:

Selections from Herodotus – edited by Amy Barbour


Suggested Texts:

Herodotus Book I – Bryn Mawr Text and commentary

Herodotus, History, trans. Grene


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.


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 occasionally 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 blackboard, 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


Week VII: No Class! – Autumn Break



Week VIII:

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


Secondary Reading: Marincola, "Herodotus"

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:  Lord Raglan, "The Birth of the Hero"part I and part II



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:  Behistun Darius Inscription, 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



Week XV: