The Mirror of Herodotus: The Representation of the Other in the Writing of History

Overview

Herodotus's great work is not only an account of the momentous historical conflict between the Greeks and the Persians but also the earliest sustained exploration in the West of the problem of cultural difference. François Hartog asks fundamental questions about how Herodotus represented this difference. How did he and his readers understand the customs and beliefs of those who were not Greek? How did the historian convince his readers that his account of other peoples was reliable? How is it possible to ...

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The Mirror of Herodotus: The Representation of the Other in the Writing of History

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Overview

Herodotus's great work is not only an account of the momentous historical conflict between the Greeks and the Persians but also the earliest sustained exploration in the West of the problem of cultural difference. François Hartog asks fundamental questions about how Herodotus represented this difference. How did he and his readers understand the customs and beliefs of those who were not Greek? How did the historian convince his readers that his account of other peoples was reliable? How is it possible to comprehend a way of life radically different from one's own? What are the linguistic, rhetorical, and philosophical means by which Herodotus fashions his text into a mirror of the marginal and unknown?
In answering these questions, Hartog transforms our understanding of the "father of history." His Herodotus is less the chronicler of a victorious Greece than a brilliant writer in pursuit of otherness.

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Editorial Reviews

Greece & Rome, Second Series, Vol. 37, No. 1, Apr., 1990 - John Percival
[T]he reading here offered is one that enlightens as well as challenges, one that leaves earlier studies looking strangely superficial, and above all one that sense the reader back with some eagerness to Herodotus himself.
Classical Philology, Vol. 85, No. 3, Jul., 1990 - Carolyn Dewald
Francois Hartog's Mirror of Herodotus is the most ambitious and influential study of Herodotus' literary techniques to appear since Immerwahr's Form and Thought in Herodotus. (…) The often difficult abstractions and metaphors of French criticism have been translated by Janet Lloyd into clear, readable English.
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