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Herodotus and his WorldEssays from a Conference in Memory of George Forrest$
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Peter Derow and Robert Parker

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199253746

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199253746.001.0001

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‘Prophecy in reverse’? Herodotus and the Origins of History

‘Prophecy in reverse’? Herodotus and the Origins of History

Chapter:
(p.237) 14 ‘Prophecy in reverse’? Herodotus and the Origins of History
Source:
Herodotus and his World
Author(s):

Thomas Harrison

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199253746.003.0014

This chapter does not aim to not to review (still less to seek to replace) earlier treatments of the ‘origins of history’. Rather, it suggests a different — broader — approach to such a question, and to offer another, complementary answer. In particular, the hypothesis will be advanced that the origins of history writing were (to a significant degree) theological. It argues that Herodotus' beliefs, convictions, and attitudes concerning the divine — far from consisting in a series of isolated and discrete passages — inform his Histories much more broadly. Herodotus' principles of selection, his organisation of his narrative, his presentation of causation, and finally (what we might term) his ‘aims and objectives’: all these can be seen to be underpinned by theological assumptions.

Keywords:   Herodotus, history writing, origins of history, Histories

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