Herodotus ' Account Of Egypt Essay

1039 Words Dec 3rd, 2016 5 Pages
At first glance it may appear that Herodotus’ account of Egypt is a clear-cut description of the country and what he learned there, intended to educate a Greek audience. However, a closer examination reveals that his intentions and motivations may have been different that originally assumed. The opening passage exemplifies the sort of conflicted view of the Egyptians that the author so frequently presents. Though, at times, he emphasizes their otherness, he seems to admire their achievements and credits them with inventing multiple cultural practices that the Greeks then copied. He begins with high praise for the Egypt, calling it a country of wonders, unparalleled in their quantity or majesty (2.35). Although the author continues to describe Egypt as a land like no other, he shifts his focus towards the Egyptians’ mannerisms and how they are the opposite of “the common practice of mankind,” which should probably be interpreted as meaning that they are the opposite of Greek mannerisms. While it is not difficult to believe that the Egyptians and the Greeks differed significantly in many of their customs, Herodotus goes out of his way to portray the Egyptians as the polar opposites of the Greeks. For example, describing the mourning customs of the two peoples, he writes that the Greeks shave their hair, while the normally clean shaven Egyptians let their hair and beards grow out as a sign of grief (2.36). This dichotomy might fit with the Greeks’ worldview, wherein all non…

Related Documents