Saturday, July 22, 2006

Herodotus on the origins of the wars between the Greeks and Persians

Herodotus opens his Histories with an exploration of the original causes of the Trojan War and the subsequent wars between the Greeks and Persians. Leaving aside the historical accuracy of his account, the opening pages present a lively and entertaining account of the justifications for war.

According to Herodotus, the conflict started when the Phoenicians abducted Io, the daughter of Inachus the King of Argos, and carried her to Egypt. Thus, began the theft of women by the Greeks and Persians leading up to Alexander’s theft of Helen.

The modern reader might find the justifications related by Herodotus silly. One wonders if Herodotus might have felt the same way. However, we moderns are in no better shape when it comes to justifying our wars based on ancient gripes. And let’s face it, we are not so far removed from Herodotus’ time when it comes to that.

At any rate, the student of human nature will benefit by taking a leisurely stroll around the world with Herodotus. It might be the ultimate summer vacation beach read.


At 12:15 AM, Blogger Renegade Eye said...

Point well made.


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