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Vlacas12 t1_iuwijmi wrote

According to an unreliable narrator. The bridges were built, yes, but details like this are very likely just fiction added by Herodotus.


EndoExo t1_iuwk6n8 wrote

A lot of Herodotus is just him repeating stories he heard from random people, so it's possible this was a legend among the Greeks at the time. It the modern equivalent of your friend repeating a story he heard at the bar from a "guy who knows a guy".


HardPawns t1_iuwl53j wrote

The Greeks hated Xerxes, wouldn’t be surprised if any of them made up stories about what a complete moron and clown he was.


The_Dog_of_Sinope t1_iuxdu7r wrote

It might not be a parable about his level of clownship. It might be a warning that Xerxes would punish the oceans if they quarreled with him. Or "he will fuck you up in ways you never thought sane or rational."


matthew_iliketea_85 t1_iuz3h07 wrote

I'm only just listening to Dan Carlins hardcore history and in it he says there's reason to think because omens and favour of the gods was actually important in that era that it was done as a placating of fhe masses. Kinda like a see its not any god angry at us that destroyed our bridge but rhis river and well... Showed him, didn't we.


Lord0fHats t1_iuzii56 wrote

Most likely it's a parable about Persian impiety.

The Greeks, at least those from Greece, generally assumed the Persian elite to be unmanly and impious. The idea that Xerxes would whip the seas probably isn't intended to suggest his irrationality or craziness, but his rage and hubris.


Jokerang t1_iuwnr3w wrote

> The Greeks hated Xerxes

Not really, about 80% of the Greek speaking world sided with the Persians during the wars. It's only later that Athens made it out so that they were defending Greek freedom.


Crepuscular_Animal t1_iuwud87 wrote

Herodotus writes mostly positive things about the Persians. He says their laws are wise, and that they abhor lies and criticize Greeks for their tendency of scamming each other.


Lord0fHats t1_iuzfyib wrote

A lot of people who know of Herodotus but never read him miss this.

Herodotus came from Halicarnassus, on the Ionian coast and grew up under Persian rule. More Greeks lived in the Persian Empire than in what we now call Greece.

His account is actually pretty favorable toward the Persians in many respects. Badmouthing the Persians was an invention of latter Greeks, not Herodotus.


ShalmaneserIII t1_ivmnp88 wrote

Herodotus was born around 484 BC. During the Achaemenid dynasty, around that time, the Persian empire had 44% of the world's population.

The Greek poleis were scrappy little states on the outside of the largest empire (relatively to share of global population) the world has ever seen. It's inevitable that a lot of what they did and thought was going to be done in relation to that huge empire just to the East. "Yeah, Persia's basically what civilization is, we should acknowledge that and imitate parts of it" or "Yeah, Persia kind of sucks, look at all this bad stuff they do, we should do our own thing in contrast to them."

You see how this works nowadays, too.


dbear26 t1_iuzrfre wrote

Ever read The Persians by Aeschylus?


robi4567 t1_iv0wael wrote

Well was there a storm like that later. Maybe we are doing it wrong.


Vlacas12 t1_iuwlfrz wrote

A lot of Herodotus is simply Greek propaganda. It's not just him repeating stories, but him using specific stories (he didn't let the truth come in the way of a good story) to paint his own views in the medium, especially the construction of a Greek Identity and using other people as a "mirror" to write about the Greeks (This second part is the remarkable contribution of François Hartog’s landmark work Le Miroir d’Hérodote. Essai sur la représentation de l’autre).


LagerGuyPa t1_iuyz4f7 wrote

In my mind's eye, Herodotus is the Hunter S. Thompson of the Heleanic world.


Lord0fHats t1_iuzgda0 wrote

Per another comment;

Herodotus' account is pretty favorable toward the Persians in many respects. He sings high praises of Persian culture and art. He's not completely free of Greek biases, but he had a much more circumspect attitude on the Empire than the Athenians or the Spartans. Unsurprising since he grew up mostly under Persian rule (more Greeks lived in the Persian Empire than in what we call Greece).

Herodotus wrote narrative embellishments, but a lot of people overlook that he examined the stories he collected and cast judgements on them. Herodotus would often tell a story and then explain why he thought it was or wasn't true. People tend to only note he told the story and forget he was analyzing his sources more than they realize.

Propaganda and badmouthing the Persians wasn't quite his deal. If anything he wrote the most Persian favorable version of the history out of all the Greek writers who survived the Classical age.


Vlacas12 t1_iuztfnt wrote

Yes, but that's my second point, that he using the Persians (especially in his account of the war between the Persians and the Scythians in the second part of the Histories) as a "mirror" for the Greeks and Greek moral ideals.


modestpump t1_iuzw7h9 wrote

Herodotus was a great npc in assassins creed Odyssey


automatedalice268 t1_iuyhlwj wrote

Recent research shows that Herodotos is more accurate than once thought of. Archeologists use his work as an aide to pinpoint sites they can dig.

EDIT: I like to add that Herodotos travelled and visited many of the places he described. Including Egypt. The Egypt chapter in Histories is a very interesting source for Egyptologists and enthousiasts.


Lord0fHats t1_iuziq37 wrote

There's definitely been a pushback in academic circles in favor of Herodotus as 'more reliable' rather than less. Most of it hinges on pointing out he did engage in source criticism at several points of his work (example, the size of the Persian Army was debated by Herodotus as much as modern historians), something he wouldn't do if he were solely interested in sensationalizing events.

These scholars would argue Herodotus calling some accounts into question and not others is indicative of what he honestly thought to be true.


semiomni t1_iuxrzec wrote

And for all we know it could be a positive legend. Like it sounds super silly to us, but maybe people who would sacrifice animals for a good harvest would find this story completely reasonable.


ShalmaneserIII t1_ivmmvi8 wrote

Symbolic actions. Kind of like when women would burn their bras for feminism.


Unusual-Anteater-988 t1_iuz2pl1 wrote

>It the modern equivalent of your friend repeating a story he heard at the bar from a "guy who knows a guy".



CarelessHisser t1_iuybart wrote

Just imagine how much of ancient history is just blatant hearsay and other BS.

We've only the most vague idea wtf happened before a certain period in history. Even then, after writing became more common, we are still partially in the dark because of bias. Unbiased accounts of historical events are still a relatively new, and rare thing.

<.< Half of our understanding of human history could be lies and no one would be any the wiser.


Lord0fHats t1_iuzj7ku wrote

Quite literally, there is today a not-so-insubtantial push against over reliance of Athenian sources in Greek history. Which is inconvenient, because especially for classical and archaic Greece, nearly all our contemporary written sources are Athenian.

That said, most of it probably isn't lies. Hearsay yes. Biased yes. But even Herodotus engaged more than once in telling a story in his work and then gave a long explanation of why he didn't think it was true. The standards might have been much looser then, but there's not always an explicit reason to think ancient writers were outright lying.

They were just telling the story from their own POV, with their own sense of how the world worked and what was or wasn't true.


Echo71Niner t1_iuyjrbj wrote


interesting read here.


>his report of giant Indian ants, "midway between dogs and foxes in size", who dig up gold; or the griffins "who stand guard over gold" in the mountains beyond Scythia? These are the kind of stories that, while they add hugely to the enjoyment of reading The Histories, have resulted in a long tradition of dismissing Herodotus as gullible at best, and at worst a liar.


Blutarg t1_iuyi9lb wrote

If I were a king I could totally see myself doing this. Heck, I could see myself giving my computer a few lashes sometimes.


greybruce1980 t1_iuwoqbp wrote

Maybe? I mean, the rich and powerful are often fucking crazy because they don't have the same checks and balances of reality to contend with like you or I do.


KypDurron t1_iux7scz wrote

That's fine, but you can't say that second- or third-hand accounts from a biased source are likely to be accurate just because they fit with what you expect to hear about someone.


crossedstaves t1_iuz0g5u wrote

Herodotus wasn't really into objectivity though, he did a lot to make a very moralizing point about hubris with Xerxes.