Herodotus Observations

I want to thank everyone for sending along their notes and observations on the book so far – it really gives me a deeper sense of how people read and the many layers of the book.

Personally, I was amazed at how prolific three things were:

1. How deeply prostitution factored into some cultures.

2. The dependence on Oracles, and how even Herodotus supported their claims in his stories. If the Oracle was positive for someone, he inidcated it as a sign of vindication. If it ended badly for someone (or culture), he seemed to relish in the irony that their ego had allowed them to misread the Oracle. I can’t help but think of the use of Oracles within Harry Potter, and the visual of that room in the Ministry of Magic that keeps thousands and thousands of Oracle predictions in the form of glass orbs.

3. War. Since the story covers so many cultures over such an expanse of time, it probably shouldn’t be unnerving how many struggles are represented here – but it was. I couldn’t help but reflect on current wars – and even the past century within our culture. In the book, conflicts are pervasive, and can to be started for seemingly flippant reasons. The “300” battle is a particularly interesting example, in that they tried to reduce the mayhem by symbolizing war into a smaller scale. It reminded me of an episode of Star Trek where Kirk happens upon a planet that is fighting an ancient “virtual” war with another culture. A computer simulates a war, and when a “virual” bomb hits a city, a death count pops out of the computer. That many people then walk passively into a machine that kills them. The theory was that it saved the expense of actual destruction.

It’s 6am – that’s all I got for now!

Speak to everyone tonight.
-Dan

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One Response to Herodotus Observations

  1. April 08, 2008 at 09:13 AM says:

    <p>In re: Andre’s reminder to us to try to step out of our post-60s mindset of war – </p><p>One thought I had while reading Book I was that we, or at least I, tend to think of the times we live in – the horrible news about war and genocide and tribal conflict, etc. – as some sort of end-times scenario. That is, the violence and mayhem and hunger, etc. that we read/ hear about are indicative of a deterioration in the fabric of civilizations these days, or the negative results of colonialism, or some related interpretation. </p><p>But what I’ve gained from Herodotus is that there is absolutely nothing new about constantly shifting territorial borders, the likelihood of one’s family being massacred in one’s lifetime or captured into slavery, or of being subject to several different tyrants in one generation. </p><p>It really shifts my historical perspective to realize this.<br></p>

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