The use(s) of inscriptions in Herodotus’ Histories

Haywood, Jan (2021). The use(s) of inscriptions in Herodotus’ Histories. American Journal of Philology, 142(2) pp. 217–257.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1353/ajp.2021.0007

Abstract

This article revisits a topic of major importance in the study of ancient Greek historiography: Herodotus' use of inscriptions—a significant group of textual sources in his Histories. The analysis centres on his decidedly varied application of epigraphic records. It shows how the Herodotean narrator sometimes looks to draw out the limitations of certain inscribed materials as accurate records of the past, which thus serve as a foil for his own commemorative writing. But the discussion also investigates ways in which inscriptions serve other, more positive ends in Herodotus' narrative, not least by functioning as a further form of proof and validation for some of his more controversial ideas, or by serving to underline a theme that recurs elsewhere in his text.

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