Historiography: Herodotus

Starting with the presentation of the cultural background of his era, the course focuses on Herodotus’ work by starting from his biography and moving to the influences he was subjected to –philosophical, rhetorical, and cultural. The main objective of the course is to highlight the Herodotean concept of history and his relation to the Ionian logographers that preceded him. Furthermore, we examine the impact the attic drama had on him. This way, the course introduces the students to the way Herodotus sees his work taking also into account the impact of his travels on the borders of the known world. In this context, several issues are examined in detail, such as the question of his sources (literary and/or oral), the combination of myth and history in his work, his method of accessing the available data and the composition of the material. Moreover, the course focuses on the literary style of this historian, especially on the techniques he either adopted (wisdom text of the Near East) or invented (mythical or supernatural elements in crucial historical events).


• The objective of this course is to introduce students to the relation of the Ionian logography with Ancient Greek Historiography as a genre, focusing on the intellectual background and the influences Herodotus received as a writer. Consequently, it aims to familiarize them with his historical method as well as with the specific characteristics of his work, such as the use of extended digressions, the insertion of novellae and anecdotes in the historical reasoning, the Near Eastern elements (both in his style as well as in his philosophical reasoning) he adopted and adapted, the impact of Rhetoric and Attic Drama. • After the completion of the course, students are expected to know the impact of the spiritual milieu of the 5th cent. Ionia and Athens on Herodotus, something that will enable them to fuller interpret his thought. It is also expected that students will better understand certain elements of the Herodotean historical reasoning as products of the cultural milieu he lived in, and that some aspects that startle the modern reader as manifestly mythical or supernatural are obviously explained by the way that his contemporaries perceived the world and his manifestations. It also expected that students will understand what drove Herodotus to compose this universal history, and to insert mythical paradigms into the historical description. Finally, one of the basic objectives is the fullest literary understanding of the text.



• Introduction to the Ionian logography and the Greek Novella. • Herodotus’ Life and Times seen in relation to the historical, the socio-political and the cultural frame in which he was brought up. • His journeys to the borders of the known-world and the impact they had on his view of the world. Geography and ethnology as key elements of his History. The Near Eastern elements he introduced to the Greek vocabulary and to the Greek literature. • His writing method and his sources, literary and oral. The composition of his work in Logoi and the decisive impact of his sojourn in Athens. The influence of Attic Drama and Attic Oratory. • The mythical and the historical in the herodotean concept of History. • His literary style and the narrative techniques he employed in his text. The use of novels and anecdotes.






Instructors: Charilaos Avgerinos
Department: Department of History and Archaeology
Institution: University of Ioannina
Subject: History and Archaeology
Rights: CC-BY-SA

Visit Course Page