Two themes, the elusiveness of wisdom and the distortion of speech, are traced through three important scenes of Herodotus' Lydian logos, the meeting of Solon and Croesus , the scene where Cyrus places Croesus on the pyre , and the advice of Croesus to Cyrus to cross the river and fight the Massagetae in their own territory . The paper discusses whether Solon is speaking indirectly at 1.29–33, unable to talk straight to Croesus about his transgressive behavior: if so, that (...) illuminates the dynamics of speech at a court. At 1.86–90 Croesus may not have fully understood what Solon earlier said to him. Cyrus may understand Croesus' report of Solon's words better than Croesus does himself. Herodotus' readers will also be uncertain what the response of Delphi will be to Croesus' indignant questioning: if a reader has failed to grasp the significance of Gyges' transgression five generations earlier, that reenacts the forgetfulness of figures in the text. At 1.207 Croesus' advice to Cyrus is of questionable wisdom: Croesus too cannot speak directly, and he has anyway learned the wrong lesson from his catastrophe, extrapolating too directly from his own experience. The conclusion suggests some reasons why Herodotus should have chosen to begin his History with Lydia, the kingdom that is on the cusp between East and West, and with Croesus, a figure that resists description in the easy formulations of Greek/barbarian discourse. (shrink)
Donald Russell, Emeritus Professor of Classical Literature at the University of Oxford, has been a leading figure in several fields of classical scholarship over the last few decades. The present volume collects essays written in his honour by scholars who have all worked closely with him. They fall into three sections, corresponding to Donald Russell's main work: Latin literature, Greek imperial literature, and ancient literary criticism. They are unified by two of Russell's own pervasive concerns: ethics, the concern of classical (...) literature with moral conduct, and rhetoric, the techniques of effective persuasion. (shrink)
Twelve of the greatest voices from ancient Greece and Rome - and why they still inspire and affect us in the 21st century. A book for all readers who want to know more about the literature that underpins Western civilization.
Caesar’s third-person narrative style has recently attracted much attention, especially regarding his motives for using it, and its relation to those points in the text where he lapses into the first person. This chapter focusses on the nature of Caesar’s third-person style: it differs from ‘typical’ third-person usage in that the reader knows that Caesar-the-narrator and Caesar-the-character are one and the same. Caesar-the-narrator assumes and plays on this knowledge, for example by describing the actions of Caesar-the-character omnisciently but describing those (...) of his antagonists non-omnisciently. The chapter compares Caesar’s technique to that of Xenophon, who also narrates his own actions in the third person, but without adopting the semi-first person that Caesar does. It argues that much of the impact of Caesar’s narrative derives from the complex interplay of Caesar-the-narrator with Caesar-the-character. (shrink)
Astyages, son of Cyaxares, now inherited the throne. A daughter was born to him, whom he called Mandane; and Astyages dreamed that she urinated so much that the urine filled his city, then went on to flood all of Asia. He consulted the dream-experts among the magi, and was alarmed by the details which he heard from them. Later, when this Mandane was already old enough for marriage, he did not give her as wife to any of the Medes who (...) were worthy of him, because he was fearful of the dream; instead he gave her to a Persian named Cambyses, who, he discovered, belonged to a good house and was mild in nature, but was still—he thought—far inferior to a Mede of even middling status. (shrink)