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Herodotus and the invention of history
Herodotus and the invention of history

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This free course was written by Elton Barker. Many thanks to Danny Pucknell for his feedback on the content.

Note: Section 1 is inspired by Cathryn Dewald’s 1987 article: ‘Narrative surface and authorial voice in Herodotus’ Histories,’, Arethusa, 20, pp. 147–70.

Section 2 draws heavily on Alex Purves’s chapter: ‘In the bedroom: interior space in Herodotus’ Histories’, in K. Gilhuly and N. Worman (eds) Space, Place, and Landscape in Ancient Greek Literature and Culture, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014, pp. 94–129.

Section 3 is largely derived from Elton Barker (2006) ‘Paging the oracle: interpretation, identity, and performance in Herodotus’ History’, Greece&Rome, 58, pp.1–28.

All translations are the author’s, except where noted.

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The material acknowledged below is Proprietary and used under licence (not subject to Creative Commons Licence). Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources for permission to reproduce material in this free course:


Course image: akinbostanci; Getty Images

Figure 1: UNESCO; licenses/ by-sa/ 3.0/ igo/ deed.en

Figure 2: Creative-Touch; Getty Images

Figure 3: taken from: web/ 20230503065234/ https:/ wiki/ Herodotus

Figure 4: Travelling Runes; licenses/ by-sa/ 2.0/ deed.en

Figure 5: Gustave Moreau - World Gallery; see also Maguire, Helen of Troy, 41, Public Domain, w/ index.php?curid=7290580

Figures 6, 12, 24 and 27: The Open University

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Figure 9: WolfgangRieger - Filippo Coarelli (ed.): Pompeji. Hirmer, München 2002, ISBN 3-7774-9530-1, p. 99., Public Domain, w/ index.php?curid=6229018

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Figure 11: ©Unknown - Papyrology Rooms, Sackler Library, Oxford;

Figure 13: American Numismatic Society

Figure 14: M.Tiverios, Elliniki Techni; The Classical Art Research Centre

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Figure 16: taken from; wiki/ Category:Gyges_in_the_bedchamber_of_King_Candaules#/ media/ File:Italian_-_Dish_with_King_Candaules_Exhibiting_His_Wife_Nyssia_to_Gyges_-_Walters_482031.jpg

Figure 17: Maître François -, Public Domain, w/ index.php?curid=50963919

Figure18: Jean-Léon Gérôme - Museo de Arte de Ponce; wiki/ Category:Gyges_in_the_bedchamber_of_King_Candaules#/ media/ File:Jean-L%C3%A9on_G%C3%A9r%C3%B4me_-_El_rey_Candaules.jpg

Figure 19: Unknown artist - Own work, Photo by Szilas in the British Museum, 2010-08-03, CC BY-SA 4.0, w/ index.php?curid=129782824

Figure 20: Dorotheum; wiki/ File:Jacob_Jordaens_-_The_wife_of_King_Candaules.jpg

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Figure 23: Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Bilddatenbank.

Figure 25: Camillo Miola (Biacca) - J. Paul Getty Museum, Public Domain, w/ index.php?curid=48328126

Figure 26: rob Stoeltje from Loenen, Netherlands - GRIEKENLAND 014, licenses/ by/ 2.0/

Figure 28: Wind Group - Jastrow (2006), Public Domain, w/ index.php?curid=688179

Figure 29: Jacques-Louis David - Web Gallery of Art:   Image  Info about artwork, Public Domain, w/ index.php?curid=15387269

Figure 30: Surenae; licenses/ by-sa/ 4.0/ deed.en

Figure 31: Jörg Bittner Unna; licenses/ by/ 3.0/ deed.en

Figure 32: Estate of Charles Garabedian


Herodotus, The Histories, Book 1 Sections 1 -5, translated by Elton Barker, 2023


Activity 8 Audio: The Open University

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