Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Arts and Science
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
English Language and Literature
In the Histories, Herodotus fashions himself as the first historian as he chronicles the saga of the Persian Wars. Although he tries to base his narrative solely on fact, Herodotus must dip into the realm of oral tradition, folklore and myth in order fill the gaps of recorded history. In doing this, Herodotus takes on the roles of both author and historian. As a result, the work as a whole can be read as a historical document and a piece of literature. In order to gain the most from the narrative, it is imperative that one read the piece as both a historiography and literary work, and simultaneously and view Herodotus as an author of literature and a historian. What this means is that Herodotus the author uses his own beliefs and cultural biases to manipulate the characters in order to recount history accurately. Women especially are subject to these machinations. Unsurprisingly then, many of the female characters depicted by Herodotus act irrationally and unreasonably, just as the Greek cultural biases say they should. The mythological women who begin the Histories; Candaules’ nameless wife; Atossa; and Artemisia all adhere to the strict norms of femininity, and as a result, Herodotus can use the illogicality inherent to their femaleness to instigate seemingly unexplainable historical events. In contrast, Herodotus’ use of Greek male characters, in particular Aristagoras, allows the author to create an extension of himself. These parallel narrations allow Herodotus to assert his own authority as a narrator in order to strengthen the integrity of the work as a whole.
Shulman, Jennifer, "Modesty and Manliness: Gendered Truth-Telling in Herodotus" (2017). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 1017.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.