Classics 239 :  Herodotus' Conversations
308C Doe Library
Leslie Kurke
2:00 - 5:00

In 1958, Arnaldo Momigliano opined, “The secrets of [Herodotus’] workshop are not yet all out.” More than 60 years later, in spite of robust scholarly activity, this is still true: Herodotus’ text remains mysterious, more surprising, in a way, with each new discovery (e.g., Simonides’ Elegy on the Battle of Plataea, published in the early 1990s). In this seminar, I hope to read together a substantial portion of Herodotus’ Histories, combined with other texts and traditions with which he was in conversation. Starting from the premise that Herodotus’ text is a capacious, pre-disciplinary, and experimental space, we will consider his many genres and many interlocutors. By the latter, I mean the wide range of popular, poetic, “scientific,” Sophistic, and other discourses that inform, populate, and jostle against each other in Herodotus’ text, as well as (potentially) the later conversations Herodotus’ work inspired (e.g., in Xenophon, Plato, Callimachus, Plutarch). Thus, our approach will be mainly literary and cultural-historical. We will start with selections from Book 1 and then do continuous reading of Books 3-6. I strongly encourage students who plan to take the seminar to read at least Books 1-2 of Herodotus (in English or, if you prefer, in Greek) before the beginning of the semester.