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

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  • Essay length: 2039 words
  • Submitted: 13/06/2012
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AS and A Level Classics

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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. This evidence limitation means that no specific Persian source

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