Assignment #7: Babylon

Herodotus announces his reason for writing in the introduction of his work:

Ἡροδότου Ἁλικαρνησσέος ἱστορίης ἀπόδεξις ἥδε, ὡς μήτε τὰ γενόμενα ἐξ ἀνθρώπων τῷ χρόνῳ ἐξίτηλα γένηται, μήτε ἔργα μεγάλα τε καὶ θωμαστά, τὰ μὲν Ἕλλησι, τὰ δὲ βαρβάροισι ἀποδεχθέντα, ἀκλεᾶ γένηται, τὰ τε ἄλλα καὶ δι’ ἣν αἰτίην ἐπολέμησαν ἀλλήλοισι.

Herodotus of Halicarnassus, his Researches are here set down to preserve the memory of the past by putting on record the astonishing achievements both of our own and of other peoples; and more particularly, to show how they came into conflict.

We now consider Herodotus of Halicarnassus, who produced his work c.450, the first real historian because he spent a great deal of time researching the events about which he wrote. He was not simply recording the deeds of kings, but rather attempting to understand the great events that led to the Persian Wars – a war that had. He spent years wandering about the great cities between of the Greek and Persian world collecting stories from all sides of the conflict. ‘History’ literally means research – and you have been reading from the Histories, or literally the Researches, of Herodotus. Herodotus chose to deliver a reading of his work at the Olympic Games, perhaps an odd venue for a history reading now, but in Ancient Greece poetry, theater, athletics and art we’re all part of the religious festival.

Much of what Herodotus says must not be taken literally, as he records myth and rumor alongside actual events. However, he does tell us a great deal about his world and we can glean a great deal from reading his work. Gates of Fire, for example, relies heavily upon information taken from Herodotus.

Based on your own reading of Herodotus, construct a map of the city of Babylon – one that is based upon the textual evidence! What did this place look like c.500 BC? Please include at least 10 specific items or locations that are mentioned in the text AND LABEL THEM ON YOUR MAP.


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