Herodotus and the Origins of the Political Community: Arion's Leap

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The subtitle of this book is 'Arion's Leap' and it is from this example of the puzzling fictionality of some of Herodotus' histories that the author starts her exploration (Arion was the singer who leapt into the sea to escape from Corinthian pirates and was rescued by dolphins). Scholars have long wrestled with Herodotus' practice of placing fanciful stories alongside factual ones, but Thompson suggests that rather than displaying a primitive conception of history, such a practice indicates a profound grasp of political theory and an understanding of the way that central stories can become the core of a political community. This major reconsideration of Herodotus' art draws his work into the modern historical debate, and the author uses the writings of Martin Bernal, Francois Hartog and Edward Said to shed new light on Herodotus' conception of history.
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Editorial Reviews

Changing the perspective from the usual comparison to Thucydides, Thompson (political science, Yale U.) engages Herodotus in terms of his own notions of knowledge. She finds in The History a hierarchy of certitude descending from the absolutely fixed divine world, through the physical and animal, to the most uncertain human world. She suggests that he might be responsible for the foundation of Aristotle's notion of humans as political animals. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300062601
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1996
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 5.67 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations
Introduction 1
1 The Decline and Repudiation of the Whole: Notes on Aristotle's Enclosure of the Pre-Socratic World 7
2 The Development of Social Memory 28
3 The Formation of Persian Political Identity 52
4 Political Identities in Conflict: Herodotus in Contention with His Characters 79
5 The Use of Herodotus in Contemporary Political and Cultural Criticism 112
6 Before Objectivity, and After 142
Afterword: Arion's Leap 167
Bibliography 169
Index 189
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