Essay on Herodotus 's The Persian War

1606 Words Sep 29th, 2016 7 Pages
Herodotus, in his work, The Histories, describes the leaders of the two combatant coalitions in the Persian War, Themistocles of the Greeks and Xerxes of the Persians, in very different ways. Herodotus often points to how both men handle council and their own piety as a tool to depict what kind of men they are, and at times reinforces his own generalizations of the Greek and Persian people using these men as his proxy. Herodotus seems to accept the idea that men, as individuals, can shape great events, along with the gods. He lends this idea great weight through his explanation of both Xerxes’ and Themistocles’ actions and decisions. Generally, Xerxes is depicted as somewhat irrational and possessing poor-judgement and Themistocles, for the most part, is depicted as clever and opportunistic. These accounts are quite useful to historians analyzing the Persian War as they provide a Greek perspective on the leaders of both sides, and also provide focal points for historians to further analyze with other sources and form more informed accounts. This paper will argue that in The Histories, Herodotus presents us with an image of a clever Greek in Themistocles, and an irrational, or at the very least unlucky, and impious Persian in Xerxes. This paper will also argue that their actions and personalities, as reflected in their depiction by Herodotus, directly influence key events namely the Battle of Salamis, which was essentially the turning point of the entire conflict. One…

Related Documents