By Herodotus (trans. Robin Waterfield)
Review by Ella P (Classical Archaeology and Ancient History)
When it came to applying for University, I wasn’t sure what course I wanted to do. I knew I liked history and I enjoyed the ancient history parts of my Latin lessons so when I found my course (Classical Archaeology and Ancient History) it seemed perfect. However I knew very little about ancient Greek history and I thought I should do some reading before I came, this book was on my reading list and when it arrived in the post I thought it looked a bit small to be “the one book I must read all the way through” so I checked with someone I knew doing the same course and I had in fact ordered Tales from Herodotus by accident. This is essentially a tiny little book consisting of funny and strange tales that Herodotus tells in The Histories, for example about the flying snakes of Arabia or gold digging ants and it is well worth a read.
Eventually I ordered the right book and having read huge books drowned in factual information for history I wasn’t feeling optimistic about The Histories, but I found myself loving it! The main focus of the book is how the Greek city states united against the invading Persian army, but the main body of the book is filled with everything that Herodotus found interesting on his travels- from a hidden tunnel through a mountain to provide water for a city to different methods of mummification. At first it looks intimidating as it is set out in nine books rather than a series of chapters but it is written so well with these funny little stories integrated into it that I found myself reading whole books at a time. After my initial mistake it all turned out okay in the end!
The Histories by Herodotus