Great and Marvellous Deeds: Herodotus and his world

Dr Andrew Connor, Lecturer in Ancient History in the Centre for Ancient Cultures at Monash University, will present a lecture entitled Great and Marvellous Deeds: Herodotus and his world, at the Greek Centre, on Thursday 7 March, as part of the Greek history and Culture Seminars offered by the Greek Community of Melbourne.

Herodotus—the “father of history”—is one of the most influential authors in the ancient world. His account of the wars between the Hellenes and the Persian Empire has inspired scholars, writers, artists, filmmakers, and even video game designers. Yet, Herodotus has been attacked in ancient and modern times as a fabulist, even as “the father of lies.” Indeed, the ancient author Plutarch went so far as to pen a treatise accusing him of “malice” (κακοήθεια) in how he wrote history.

Nearly every aspect of Herodotus’ life—his birthplace, his family, his work, and even his place of death—are uncertain. His work at times defies description, simultaneously providing historical narrative and travelogue, alongside some of the earliest examples of ethnography. How can we resolve this quandary? And, where did this man and this work—a critical source for not only Greek, but Persian, Egyptian, and Scythian history as well—come from? And why has this work been so fiercely loved, loathed, and (most of all) read for 2500 years?

In this talk, I will discuss what we know about Herodotus himself, about his timeless work, and about the world it describes. By approaching Herodotus and his work through his eyes, and on his terms, we can not only meaningfully engage with his text as a historical source, but we can appreciate the Histories itself as a “deed both great and marvellous.”

Andrew Connor is the Lecturer in Ancient History in the Centre for Ancient Cultures at Monash University. Before coming to Melbourne, he completed his PhD in Ancient History (Classics) at the University of Cincinnati, studying the economic infrastructure of religion in Roman Egypt.

His primary research area is on ancient Greek documentary papyri, and he has published and presented on aspects of ancient Egyptian religion under the Ptolemies and Romans, legal and economic procedure and terminology, and the earliest appearance of alphabetical order in ancient Greek, as well as Herodotus’ descriptions of Persians, tyrants, and scandalous behaviour. As part of his studies, he lived in Greece for a year at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, and participated in excavations at the site of Ancient Corinth. Andrew currently teaches on Periklean Athens, Alexander the Great and Kleopatra, Imperial Rome, Greek and Roman Archaeology, and the Ancient Greek language.

When: 7 March 2019

Where: Greek Centre (Mezz, 168 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne)