In what ways and to what extent Does Herodotus overemphasize individuals in the conflict between the Greeks and Xerxes?
Herodotus aim’s in writing history as clearly stated by him is to 'display his inquiry, so that human achievements may not become forgotten in time” his narrative aims to perpetuate human achievements and the role of individuals so that they will not dwindle through time and that their “great and marvelous deeds- some displayed by Greeks, some by barbarians may not be without their glory”, therefore enabling them to leave their imprint on generations to come, something Herodotus thought their dually deserved. His main objective is to outline the causes of the conflict between Xerxes and the Greeks, hence he attempts to explain the reasons behind the Persian Wars. Through his efforts to marvel and praise the achievements of individuals, he often overemphasizes them, providing a superficial analysis of events. His account contains bias and numerical inaccuracies but unique in the fact that he was the first to attempt at writing and recording events that had taken place and he had researched and enquired about in such a manner, thus his title “Father of History” nevertheless we have no other major source to compare Herodotus with except any archeological evidence found.
A prominent element in Herodotus's narrative concerning the aspects of political power is his portrayal of powerful and ambitious kings such as Croesus, Cyrus and Xerxes. Persian being a monarchy, and Darius is one of its most of successful rulers being proponent of the system itself ,individuals that held the empire’s power are of utmost importance and influence and this is shown not only by Herodotus work which depict their greatness but in his narratives, but too Herodotus displays the various downsides of such a system it has on the person ruling and the the effects on the empire they ruled in.This is seen in the constitutional debate through the speech of Otanes “The typical vices of monarchy are envy and pride; envy because it is a natural human weakness and price because excessive wealth and power lead to the delusion that he is something more than a man” when Darius goes on to speak where he concludes and dismisses such a proposal that monarchy is not a fit method of ruling “the best form of government is monarchy”. Darius’s influence is not only felt by Herodotus but on a wider scale too, as in his power being felt “in every corner of his dominions”, his greatness is also depicted in other sources such as,The Behistun inscription significant as it a one of the little Persian sources available and delineate of Darius’s achievement “Says Darius the King” but his inscription is noteworthy as the king appeals to the readers of the inscription and to his successors to keep the inscriptions in good condition and pass on its account of the king’s achievements and his aspirations to the future. It is up for question however whether Darius attacked the Greeks to avenge the Ioanian Revolt or for ulterior motives such as revenge and expansionist desires thus to “subdue all the Hellenes” as non-contemporary Plutarch states and to suffice and live up to name of previous kings and conquer territory which is a prerequisite for any Persian King and something Darius had yet to do, to acquire “ a deed worthy of mention” as relatively unreliable Diodorus Siculus tells us and furthermore to avenge the Burning of Sardis something that influenced his motives greatly and even to an extent he prayed “Grant O God,that I may punish the Athenians” and commanded one of his servants to repeat him the words “Master remember the Athenians” whenever he sat down for dinner. The question remains however whether Herodotus chooses to focus his writing on Darius desires to become a warrior king and whether his sole aspirations to achieve his own personal glory surpassed all other factors that could have led him attacking the Greeks? A main influence being his wife Atossa.Atossa is seen in Herodotus as persuading him to ignite the flame that will influence and shake all of Greece. “Now is the time for action while you are young; for the body grows in strength, so does the mind but as the years pass and the body weakens, the mind ages too and loses its’edge”.This is apparent as a downside in the system of monarchy as Democedes had instructed Atossa to say just so “what I want you to do is to invade Greece” and thus influenced him in his decisions “no sooner said than done”, this somehow justifies Herodotus reasons for focusing on individuals rather than deep rooted causes of events because perhaps individuals were enough cause.