Breathing new life into the writings of the West's first historian, The Essential Herodotus combines balanced selections of his work with succinct commentary and notes. The first collection of its kind, this volume presents Herodotus's well-known writings on politics and war alongside his research on folk traditions, foreign cultures, and natural wonders. William A. Johnson's clear and lively translations make the original texts accessible in all their richness. Ideal for novices and historians alike, The Essential Herodotus reminds a 21st-century audience why these texts have stood the test of time.
- Brings together, for the first time, the essential selections from the world's first historian
- New clear and lively translations that preserve the charm of the original Greek
- 32 photos enrich the original texts
- Notes and annotations provide helpful context for understanding passages
- Over 50 maps and diagrams aid understanding of ancient civilizations
- Two sets of indexes, one for the places included in the Maps, the other for subjects and persons, enhance the book's utility
- Compact format makes the book ideal for both students and general readers
About the Author(s)
William Johnson, Duke University
WILLIAM A. JOHNSON, Professor of Classical Studies at Duke University, works broadly in the cultural history of Greece and Rome. He has lectured and published on Herodotus, Hesiod, Plato, Cicero, Pliny (both Elder and Younger), Gellius, Lucian and on a variety of topics relating to books and readers, both ancient and modern. Recent work has focused on establishing deep contextualization for specific ancient reading communities, with particular attention to the relationship between literary texts and social structure. His books include Readers and Reading Culture in
the High Empire, a Study of Elite Reading Communities (Oxford, 2010); Ancient Literacies (with Holt Parker; Oxford, 2009), Bookrolls and Scribes in Oxyrhynchus (Toronto, 2004).
"This well-judged selection and charming translation splendidly brings out the variety and delights of Herodotus' text. It embraces not only the famous battle accounts (Marathon, Salamis) but also the less familiar, equally captivating ethnographic narratives, from the marvels of Lydia to the romantic liaisons of Amazons and Sauromatae and the Scythians' cannabis use. Helpful subtitles and introductions to each section will prove invaluable to the general reader who is encountering Herodotus for the first time." - Emily Baragwanath, University of North Carolina"
"The Essential Herodotus allows the reader to travel the ancient world with a Greek storyteller, investigator and historian, whose range of interests was all encompassing, and who was a keen observer of the human condition in its physical and cultural environment. Johnson's sensitive comments justify his selections from Herodotus' history and show its unity of themes and literary richness." - Joseph Roisman, Colby College
"The selections reflect the wide-ranging nature of Herodotus' inquiries; the notes are concise, on-point, and informative, especially regarding major themes and historical method; and the lively and engaging translation retains the archaic storytelling features, the conversational tone, and the narrative brilliance of the original. This book will be extremely useful for anyone who teaches ancient Greek history or culture courses." - Christopher A. Baron, University of Notre Dame
"Professor Johnson succeeds in presenting the full range of Herodotus' interests (not just history as we know it, but history juxtaposed with and informed by ethnography, geography, primeval legend, and contemporary scientific debate) in a translation that is accurate, clear, and engaging." - Charles C. Chiasson, University of Texas at Arlington"
"William A. Johnson's The Essential Herodotus is a pleasurable and honest alternative for anyone not at leisure to read the massive original. It exposes the reader to the same marvellous variety of materials while remaining completely faithful to the historian's overarching concern, the Greco-Persian War and its causes. Thus, the reader experiences all the domains of Herodotus's research: foreign customs, folk traditions, storytelling, natural wonders and human marvels, divine forces obscurely present in human affairs, reflections on historical method, and of course wartime deeds both glorious and terrible. And Johnson's translation preserves all the charm of the
Greek-its elegance, its frequent conversational tone, and its sly naïveté." - James Andrews, Ohio University"
"Johnson has chosen his selections from the Histories very well; readers will gain from these selections an excellent impression of the content and nature of Herodotus' work as a whole. The comments that Johnson offers on Herodotean motifs, themes, and recurring patterns, moreover, are outstanding-some of the best such comments I have ever read in a translation of the Histories. Armed with a knowledge of such patterns, readers should be well-quipped to appreciate Herodotus' achievement as an historian, thinker, and literary artist." - David Branscome, Florida State University"