The History

By: Herodotus, Translated by David Grene, read in 2015

18 "Because the threads of this...causation lie in the hands of some supernatural power or some nonhuman order of the world that embraces all its multiplicity, Herodotus thinks it cannot be understood by men in its altogetherness." (Grene)
53 The Oracle at Delphi predicts Croesus' turtle soup.
66 Scythians kill, cook, and serve Cyaxares' son and serve it to him.
67 Thales predicts an eclipse on 5/28/525 BC.
68 Thales diverts the river Halys so Croesus's army could cross.
82 "Cyaxares...had defeated the Assyrians in battle, but then, when he was beleaguering Nineveh, there came upon him a great host of Scythians... They had first expelled the Cimmerians from Europe, and it was in pursuit of the fleeing Cimmerians that the Scythians came into Median territory." This is the fundamental paradigm of history (IMHO)
83 "For twenty-eight years, then, the Scythians were masters of Asia, and all was wasted by their violence and pride."
83 "Cyaxares and his Medes massacred most of these Scythians after first entertaining them and making them drunk, and so the Medes recovered their empire"
83 "Cyaxares died, having been king for forty years (if you include those years when the Scythians held sway), and Astyages, his son, succeeded him."
84 "When Mandane was ripe for a man, Astyages, since he dreaded his dream, gave her to no one of the Medes who were worthy to marry into his house but to a Persian called Cambyses."
84 "When Mandane was living with her husband in their first year, Astyages saw another vision...and sent to recall his daughter from where she lived among the Persians, she then being big with child. When she came, he kept her under ward because he wished to destroy whatever should be born of her. For from his vision the interpreters among the Magi had read the signs to mean that the child of his daughter would become king in his place... so when Cyrus was born he summoned Harpagus, his kinsman." Harpagus was ordered to kill the child, but Cyrus II survived
86 " was the child of Mandane, the daughter of Astyages and of Cambyses, son of Cyrus, and that it was Astyages; command that it should be killed." Evidently the child was at least Cyrus II, since his grandfather was also named Cyrus.
89 Astyages punishes Harpagus by killing, cooking, and serving his son to him for dinner.
143 "When he came up with them, he entreated them mightily; he would have them, he said, not desert their household gods and their wives and children. At this, it is said, one of their number showed him his prick and said, 'Wherever I have this, I will have wives and children."
167 "The wives of distinguished men, when they die, they do not give for embalmment right away, nor yet women who are especially beautiful and of great account. Only when they have been dead three or four days do they hand them over to the embalmers. This is done to prevent the embalmers from copulating with these women. For they say that one of them was caught copulating with a freshly dead woman and that a fellow workman told on him."
181 The story of King Rhampsinitus and the thief who stole from his treasury.
186 How the pyramids were built.
193 Senacherib, King of Arabia and Assyria defeated in his attempt to invade Egypt by field mice.
203 "...when these rebel Egyptians made him king, he made ready to attack Apries. Apries heard of it and sent to Amasis one of the distinguished Egyptians he had with him, whose name was Patarbemis. He bade him bring Amasis to him alive. Patarbemis came to Amasis and summoned him to the king. Amasis was mounted at the time; he lifted himself up off his horse's back and farted and told Patarbemis to carry that back to the king."
204 "There are in Egypt seven classes, which are called, respectively, priests, warriors, cowherds, swineherds, shopkeepers, interpreters, and pilots."
247 Darius and the debate over the best form of government: monarchy, oligarchy, or democracy.
249 "When the Many are rulers, it cannot but be that, again, knavery is bred in the state; but now the knaves do not grow to hate one another—they become fast friends. For they combine together to mal-administer the public concerns. This goes on until one man takes charge of affairs for the Many and puts a stop to the knaves. As a result of this, he wins the admiration of the Many, and, being so admitted, lo! you have your despot again;" Democracy --> Liberalism --> Obama
275 How Zopyrus helped Darius take Babylon by disfiguring himself, defecting to Babylon, killing some 7000 fellow Persians, gaining the confidence of the Babylonians, then betraying them by opening the gates and letting Darius' army in.
279 "Now all the slaves in Scythia are blinded by the Scythians, and this custom is because of the milk—for the Scythians are milk-drinkers...This, then, is why they blind all their prisoners of war. The Scythians are, you see, not cultivators at all, but nomads.2

2. This is, if a minor difficulty of interpretation as far as importance goes, one of the most insoluble..." This is not as big a difficulty as Grene says it is if you interpret history as I do. It makes perfect sense to me.
296 According to Herodotus, ancient Phoenicians circumnavigated Africa clock-wise from Suez.
298 Herodotus explains the basis for my "Range War" view of history.
389 "So Athens had increased in greatness. It is not only in respect of one thing but of everything that equality and free speech are clearly a good; take the case of Athens, which under the rule of princes proved no better in war than any of her neighbors but, once rid of those princes, was far the first of all. What this makes clear is that when held in subjection they would not do their best, for they were working for a taskmaster, but, when freed, they sought to win, because each was trying to achieve for his very self.
450 Herodotus' story of Pheidippides' run – different from the prevailing account I have heard.
455 Herodotus' story of the race from Marathon to Athens
459 How Megacles won the contest among suitors for the first Cleisthenes' daughter Agariste
468 Xerxes' explanation of why he was going to invade Greece
471 Xerxes was almost persuaded to abandon his plans to invade Greece, but a persistent dream changed his mind.
488 " can a human being know what security is? I think he cannot."
505 "All except the Satrae went with Xerxes' land army, under compulsion. The Satrae have never been subject to anyone, so far as we know, but right down to my time have continued as the only free Thracians. They live in high mountains, covered with woods of all kinds and with snow, and they are very keen soldiers."
506 "Learning that the name of the place was Nine Roads, they buried alive nine boys and girls of the local people. It is a Persian custom, this burying-alive; for I learn that Amestris, wife of Xerxes, when she had grown old, had fourteen children of noble Persians buried alive as a gift on her behalf to the so-called god of the underworld."
527 "The Sicilians also say this: that Gelon and Theron defeated Hamilcar, the Carthaginian, in Sicily on the very same day that the Greeks beat the Persians at Salamis. Hamilcar was a Carthaginian on his father's side and a Syracusan on his mother's"
546 Betrayal of the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae by Ephialtes
551 "...when the barbarians shot their arrows, the very sun was darkened by their multitude, so great was the number of them, Dieneces was not a whit abashed, but in his contempt for the numbers of the Medes said, 'Why, my Trachinian friend brings us good news. For if the Medes hide the sun, we shall fight them in the shade and not in the sun."
592 "Than this system of messengers there is nothing of mortal origin that is quicker. This is how the Persians arranged it: they say that for as many days as the whole journey consists in, that many horses and men are stationed at intervals of a day's journey, one horse and one man assigned to each day. And him neither snow nor rain nor heat nor night holds back for the accomplishment of the course that has been assigned to him, as quickly as he may. The first that runs hands on what he has been given to the second, and the second to the third, and from there what is transmitted passes clean through, from hand to hand, to its end, even as among the Greeks there is the torch-race that they celebrate in honor of Hephaestus. This course of horse-posts the Persians call "angareion.""
600 "As soon as Xerxes landed, he did the following because the helmsman had saved the life of the King, he awarded him a golden crown; but for causing the death of many Persians, he had his head cut off."
601 "This stood where the gold statue of Alexander the Macedonian stands." This can't be Alexander the Great – he lived over a hundred years later.
603 "Now, when Artabazus had been three months about the siege, there came a great ebbtide, which lasted for a long time. The barbarians saw the place becoming a marsh, and so they made to pass over it to Pallene. But when they had gone through two-fifths of the way, and there remained three-fifths still to pass before they would be in Pallene, there was a violent floodtide; there had been many of these before, say the inhabitants, but never one so big." Sounds like a tsunami
618 "This is the bitterest pain to human beings: to know much and control nothing."
629 Hegesistratus escapes chains by amputating his own foot.
659 "Among the Persians it is the worst of insults to be reputed worse than a woman."
659 Grisly story of Xerxes' conquest of Masistes' wife

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