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The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories    edited by Robert B. Strassler order for
Landmark Herodotus
by Robert B. Strassler
Order:  USA  Can
Pantheon, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Alex Telander

Readers are living in a great age. Classical history through primary sources has never been so accessible, with the success of Robert Fagles' translations of The Odyssey, The Iliad, and The Aeneid. Robert B. Strassler, editor of The Landmark Thucydides, now brings us The Landmark Herodotus. Translated by Andrea L. Purvis, with an introduction by Rosalind Thomas, The Landmark Herodotus is a hefty tome that will delight any historian or fan of Herodotus and the classical Greek period.

Called the father of history by Cicero, Herodotus was an Ionian Greek historian who lived in the fifth century BCE. In his Histories, he recounts the rise of the Persian Empire and its tumultuous war with the Greek city-states. Offering insights into the unique geography and anthropology of the time, Herodotus also delves into the human psyche, exploring the importance of religion, the costs of war, the sacrifice of life, and what it meant to be a free and independent state.

What makes The Landmark Herodotus unique is its encyclopedic inclusion of background information. The book begins with a comprehensive introduction to Herodotus and the period, leading to the editor's preface, and seven pages listing the dates outlined in the text - where they take place, and a brief sentence on what is happening. Then The Histories begins in an almost conversational meter, making it inviting and compelling to any reader, whether well versed in the period or not. It's split into books, each page filled with footnotes and constant side notes that serve as reference points. There are numerous maps detailing events taking place, and where possible, photos show the modern day reality of these renowned historical locations.

As one completes The Histories, the book continues with twenty-one appendices written by renowned scholars, informing the reader on topics such as Egypt, Persian Arms and Tactics, Scythia, the Spartan State, and Trireme Warfare, to name a few. A comprehensive glossary helps the reader with terminology. Finally there is a hundred-page index that will bring any specific term, person, place or event immediately to the reader's fingertips.

The Landmark Herodotus is not just a book, it's a journey, a voyage into the history of ancient Greece and its war with the Persian Empire, as told by someone who, while not there at the time, lived in a period much closer to it than you or I. Questions are answered, and wonders discovered. Upon completing the book, the reader will feel compelled to travel to Greece to see these ancient sites with their own eyes, taking The Landmark Herodotus along as an invaluable reference.

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