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Motivation and Narrative in Herodotus$
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Emily Baragwanath

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199231294

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199231294.001.0001

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Themistocles: constructions of motivation (Books VII–IX)

Themistocles: constructions of motivation (Books VII–IX)

(p.289) 9 Themistocles: constructions of motivation (Books VII–IX)
Motivation and Narrative in Herodotus

Emily Baragwanath (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses Herodotus' presentation of Themistocles' motives, taking as a test case the general's rhetoric and conduct at Andros (9.109-110) and after. It reconsiders the possibility of unreliable narratorial comments and the effect of these in eliciting reader response, particularly through the production of shifting perspectives. Herodotus' presentation recalls subsequent history and contemporary - late 5th-century - politics, for example in reflecting sophistic/democratic processes. While underlining the importance of original readers' contemporary experience in interpreting the Histories, the chapter brings out how the narrative in turn exposes the role played by later events in the retrospective fashioning of motivation. It again underlines the complexity of Herodotus' presentation and how it opens up different interpretative possibilities, highlighting the historian's broad intellectual and historiographical—rather than more narrowly political—concerns.

Keywords:   Herodotus, Histories, motives, motivation, Themistocles, Andros, unreliable narratorial comments, rhetoric, reader response, shifting perspectives, sophistic, democratic processes

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