View Full Version : Jenny's classics homework. :p

Noodles is gay
02-28-2005, 02:10 PM
Sorry about this - my printer is broken and i have to give this work in tomorrow and have forgotten my school email address so this is the only way i can think of getting it to school. Again i apologize profusely.


Herodotus Gobbet 3

1. Book seven starts with Darius amassing a vast army in order to attack Greece after learning about his defeat at Marathon. Herodotus then tells us of a quarrel between two of Darius’ sons over who should succeed him, Xerxes wins and after Darius’ death, in 486BC, becomes king. There was an Egyptian rebellion at this time so Xerxes sends an army against the Egyptian rebels and defeats them. Xerxes is persuaded by Mardonius to invade Greece, but Artabanus attempts to persuade him that it’s not a good idea, which angers Xerxes. However that night he has a dream featuring a phantom that first persuades him to stop the war against Greece then, the following night, makes him change his mind again. Preparations for the invasion are made. Xerxes has a canal dug to shorten the route his fleet would take going all the way around Athos which turns the inhabitants of Athos into islanders. Xerxes marches at the head of his army to Greece. On the way Xerxes is entertained by Pythius, a Lydian, in c.480BC, who offers to give Xerxes all his money as aid. An offer that Xerxes refuses and instead gives him 7000 gold Darics as a reward for his generosity. In Sardis Xerxes sent representatives to every Greek state, except Athens and Sparta, with a demand for earth and water, and for them to prepare entertainment for him when he arrives in each state. At Abydos two bridges were built across the Hellespont, one by the Egyptians and the other by the Phoenicians The Hellespont is a narrow strip of sea between Asia and Europe, in ancient times the towns of Sestos and Abydos lay on opposite sides of it – Xerxes bridged the channel here; its narrowest point. The modern Hellespont is called the Bosphorus and it links the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. It’s significant because there was a prophecy which vaticinated that the Hellespont should be bridged by a Persian, told to Xerxes by an Athenian called Onomacritus, the exploit is also important because it is a massive feat in itself and is pretty impressive. Xerxes is there because he’s on his way to invade Greece, partly due to his wish for revenge on Athens for his father’s defeat at Marathon, and is marching at the head of his vast army.

2. In this scene Xerxes is characterized mainly as being extremely arrogant, and any Greek originally reading this would immediately have thought of this act as an act of hubris, and deserving of nemesis. “Your master lays this punishment upon you for injuring him” – this is a good example of Xerxes’ imperiousness; he is only a mortal man and has no power over nature so is just extremely arrogant to assume that he does. This agrees with what Herodotus has told us earlier about Xerxes – when Mardonius is being extremely sycophantic and tells him that, “Of all the Persians who have ever lived and of all who are yet to be born; you are the greatest” Xerxes doesn’t rebuke him, but instead is egotistical and ostentatious enough to just accept the flattery. It appears that Xerxes doesn’t mind being invidious for his harshness concerning his men; ‘Xerxes gave orders that the men responsible for building the bridge should have their heads cut off.’ This is obviously a very unfair and draconian order because a storm caused the bridges to break so the men are being punished for something which isn’t their fault, this characteristic is highlighted by Herodotus elsewhere in his Histories. During one of Herodotus’ digressions he explains about a Lydian called Pythius who befriends Xerxes after offering him all of his money, an offer which Xerxes refuses, later however, when Pythius asks for Xerxes to relieve his eldest son from the army Xerxes takes the son and cuts him in half then marches the army away between the two halves – again the son had done nothing and yet was punished. The story shows Xerxes’ duplicitous nature – capable of extreme generosity or extreme cruelty. It also illustrates his vindictiveness and how he seems to have followed the same philosophy as his father, Darius, which was written on a rock face in Bisitun (modern Iran); ‘…the man who was loyal, I treated well, who was disloyal I treated severely.’ Xerxes is also characterized as being rather pretentious; he believes that he has the importance and power to be able to punish nature, he’s quite stubborn too – “But Xerxes the King will cross you, with or without your permission”. This demonstrates his persistence and that although he’s run into trouble he’s still going to invade Greece and is fixed upon that now. Herodotus also portrays Xerxes here as being rather irascible ‘Xerxes was very angry’ which fits well with earlier when Herodotus describes Xerxes’ outburst at Artabanus when he suggests that Xerxes shouldn’t underestimate the Greeks – ‘Xerxes was exceedingly angry. “Artabanus, you are my father’s brother and that alone saves you from paying the price your empty and ridiculous speech deserves.”’ I think in the passage given, Xerxes also appears to be quite melodramatic, because he would have his entire army watching him here and he has just totally over-reacted to the situation – perhaps to try and show his army how harsh he can be and therefore secure their loyalty. Overall I think that Herodotus portrays Xerxes in quite a bad light here because he’s extremely arrogant, pretentious, short-tempered, and seems quite wrathful. However this picture is supported with other incidents that Herodotus mentions elsewhere in his Histories.

How do you think Herodotus expects his audience to react to this story?

3. I think that one of the most prominent themes in this story is that what Xerxes does is a blatant act of hubris, and hence, deserving of punishment by nemesis. I think that this would make the audience expect the gods to punish Xerxes with nemesis because of this and so may even think it was why he was defeated by Greece. “A subsequent storm of great violence smashed it up and carried everything away.” I suspect that the Greeks would’ve considered this a sign of divine intervention and that fate was possibly trying to save them from Xerxes and his huge army, and as the audience would know that Xerxes’ expedition was due to fail may interpret this sign as meaning that the gods were against him too. I think that Herodotus is trying to make the audience dislike Xerxes because of the arrogance and cruelty he gives him to ensure that they cannot like him, but perhaps feel pity for him because they know that he’s doomed to failure. Herodotus may not have expected his audience to be surprised at the cruelty exhibited by the Persian king – he beheads his builders although they are innocent, as this complied with the view, held by many Greeks, that regarded Persians as barbarians who would castrate any boy they could. The audience may have merely expected this kind of behaviour from Persian king after hearing/reading about Darius’ exploits. Herodotus was trying to educate his audience about other cultures and their customs so in this story he’s telling them about another form of government – one which they had only just managed to resist – to any that the Greeks were currently subjected to; one of fear and tyranny, instead of the Athenian’s democracy and the Spartans, whose master was, apparently, law.

« Thinking about, waiting for it.
« Was expected of Persian kings
« Surprised?
« Think less of Xerxes? - He cut off his builders’ heads, although it wasn’t their fault that there was a storm. Brings a sense of fear to his men, they won’t do anything wrong again…
« Damned?
« Pretentious, hubris, arrogant, melodramatic, wrathful but still, supposedly, just acting like a Persian king is expected to. Unrelenting, merciless, stubborn

don't point out that i haven't finished - i know i haven't. :cool:


02-28-2005, 02:23 PM

Noodles is gay
02-28-2005, 02:27 PM
? erm.....ok.

I said i was sorry for the thread - i just gotta get work to school otherwise i get in trouble, so i'll go on the internet there and just copy and paste this thread.

Mota Boy
02-28-2005, 02:37 PM
For future reference, I always send an e-mail to myself.

02-28-2005, 02:40 PM
certainly interesting to read :)

02-28-2005, 02:43 PM
I'm 90% sure this was an excuse to post this for us to read. You didn't trick me though!!!!

Noodles is gay
02-28-2005, 02:46 PM
^^ not entirely :p that's just an added 'bonus'

For future reference, I always send an e-mail to myself.

Again i have forgotten my school email address (it's really complicated) and hotmail is blocked at school, so i can't. I would've put it onto a CD but they have removed the CD drives at school (i mean wtf?).

Noodles is gay
02-28-2005, 02:47 PM
certainly interesting to read :)


*shifty eyes*

02-28-2005, 06:00 PM
PM it to yourself?

02-28-2005, 06:03 PM
^ DING! ^

Gotcha there.

03-01-2005, 08:14 AM
I think another interesting contast in Xerxes personality from what I gathered off him is his burning desire to War versus his direct action therein. Though at the helm of his large Army, he would never engage anywhere near combat himself.

Trip Boy
03-01-2005, 08:59 AM
I fucking hate noodles is gay.

Noodles is gay
03-01-2005, 01:27 PM
^^ good; i aim to please.

I think another interesting contast in Xerxes personality from what I gathered off him is his burning desire to War versus his direct action therein. Though at the helm of his large Army, he would never engage anywhere near combat himself.

yeah that sounds right - later at thermopolie he doesn't fight - merely observes.