• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

In what way if at all does Herodotus overemphasize the role of individuals in the conflict between Xerxes and the Greeks?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

In what way if at all does Herodotus overemphasize the role of individuals in the conflict between Xerxes and the Greeks? The aim of Herodotus in writing his history is to 'display his inquiry, so that human achievements may not become forgotten in time... [and] not be without their glory' (Book 1, 1). Herodotus' objective is to outline the causes of the conflict between Xerxes and the Greeks, thus he attempts to explain the reason behind the Persian Wars. His account aims to preserve human achievements ('ta genomena ex anthropon') and the role of individuals so that they will not fade through time and that their great and marvelous deeds ('erga megala te kai thomasta') both by Greeks and barbarians will not be without their glory (kleos), having their share in history. Thus, in his aim to praise the achievements of individuals, he often overemphasizes them, providing superficial analysis of events. Though his account contains inaccuracies, bias and error, it is unique as he was the first to attempt writing a universal history and we have no other major source, apart from archaeological findings, to compare it with. ...read more.

Middle

Being a narrow passage would not give an advantage to the numerically greater Persian army and there Leonidas could defend central Greece, making also a stand to encourage unity. He was 'respected' and 'in command of the whole army', with 'the 300 men whom he brought to Thermopylae being chosen by himself', consequently he was responsible for choosing the most capable! He was such an important figure in the struggle against Xerxes that he was sent in advance of the main army to discourage the medizing of other states. In this occasion, Herodotus leaves aside his pro Athenian bias and experiences the Hellenic proudness of a 'memorable fight' even if it was a loss. Leonidas' army was so successful at first that made Xerxes 'leapt from his seat 3 times, in terror for his army,' however when Ephialtes betrayed a secret passage to the Persians, Leonidas had no choice but to stay and fight in order to give his army time to retreat. 'Honor forbade that he himself should go' as some of the Greeks that accompanied him did. Herodotus here indeed concentrates on individuals as he is focusing only on the Spartan sacrifice, accusing the Thebans that assisted them of 'strongly being suspected of Persian sympathies' and the legend failing to reproduce the Thespian contribution at Thermopylae. ...read more.

Conclusion

Apart from Artemisium where he used bribery, pro-Hellenic propaganda on the rocks and outstanding maneuvering, his crowning achievement was Salamis. He was among those that believed that the Delphic oracle meant ships when it said that 'the wooden wall shall not fail, but help you', therefore 'he advised his countrymen to prepare to meet the invader' at 'divine Salamis' (Book 7, 141-143). He even managed to persuade the Spartan commander Eurybiades that there was the most appropriate place to fight. Herodotus, also describes an incident that Themistocles sent a slave to Xerxes, urging them to attack them at Salamis since at the time they were divided on opinion as to where to fight but modern historians believe that this was just part of the plan - another brilliant idea of Themistocles that contributed to eliminating the Persian fleet. Salamis was the battle that destroyed the Persian fleet of Xerxes so much that made a future naval advance impossible - all because of Themistocles, despite the fact that Herodotus presents his as supposedly receiving advice from Mnesiphilus on how to act. Themistocles capability stroked a terrible blow, leaving Persians unwilling to encounter Athens again at sea, though Herodotus hardly attributes him any credit. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Classics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Classics essays

  1. Was Julius Caesar an effective leader?

    Whether he did this by force or not did not seem to matter to him, if necessary he could rely on his soldiers and he knew it. His legions would follow him wherever he led them: The legions of Gaul had been willing to cross the Rubicon.

  2. Assess the respective contributions of Athens and Sparta and other Greeks to Greek victory ...

    to risk an all out fight again a much larger Persian force. This argument further emphasises the point that if it not for the Athenian contribution to the fleet, then the Greeks may not have been able to hold their own on the seas and the outcome of the naval battles may have been very different.

  1. Euripides was accused by his contempories of being a woman hater. Why do you ...

    However she purposefully writes a note that will destroy Hippolytus' life as well as he is not her son but he son of Hippolyta. She is vindictive, evil and nasty just before she hangs herself in the palace of her husband, Theseus.

  2. In this essay I will be examining the reasons why against all odds the ...

    The Achaemenid Empire of Persia was now to see a brutal Kingship where no mercy was to bare upon any prisoner as Darius had big ambitions to expand his Empire. In the Western lands of Greece a very different type of society was forming, the city states had been founding

  1. Euripides was accused by his contempories of being a woman hater. Why do you ...

    This was unnecessary; it caused Hippolytus to finally die. Phaedra keeps her problems bottled up until she finally dies and leaves a note. Theseus' reacts to this violently by sentencing his son to death. The Nurse, as with most Euripidian nurses, is loyal to her mistress.

  2. Bacchus in Ovid's Metamorphoses Book 3

    He becomes bisected between two different identities, forced by divine punishment to become both 'votary and idol, suitor and sweetheart, taper and fire - at one and the same time' Although Bacchus is not actually present in the scene, the link is obvious: Ovid takes delight in playing on words

  1. 'Whatever it is, I'm afraid of the Greeks, even when they're offering gifts' How ...

    Virgil did not want to offend his own race - the Romans, but he needed the horse to be brought in, so these reasons justify everything. The first reason I have already mentioned - the gods were against them. It was the fate of Troy to fall by the Trojan

  2. Comparing Herodotus and Thucydides

    Next, speeches play a major factor in both bits of writing. In Herodotus he uses speeches to sometimes clarify a point, such as the conversation between Demaratus and Xerxes, these are mainly small speeches, and are mainly used to back up one point.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work