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CLA 109 — The Histories of Herodotus

Quarter: Spring
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: On-campus
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 5—Jun 7
Time: 7:00—8:50 pm
Drop Deadline: Apr 18
Units: 2
Tuition: $460
Instructor(s): Barbara Clayton
Status: Open
7:00—8:50 pm
Apr 5—Jun 7
10 weeks
Drop By
Apr 18
2 Units
Barbara Clayton
Herodotus, sometimes called the “father of history,” is the author of the earliest substantial historical writing we have. “History” is a Greek word meaning “inquiry.” Herodotus’s inquiries were focused mainly on the two wars between the Greeks and the Persians at the end of the 6th century BCE. He begins with an account of the formation of what we know as the Persian Empire, and takes us to the end of the second Persian War with a thrilling portrayal of the Greek victories at Marathon, Salamis, and Platea. Along the way, he often pauses to explore (and marvel at) the customs and societies of non-Greek peoples, such as the Egyptians and the Scythians. Herodotus is a master storyteller, and his bravura characterizations of such figures as Croesus, the unfortunate Lydian king, and Themistocles, the wily Athenian general, are unforgettable literary masterpieces in their own right. This course will consist of a careful reading of all nine books of The Histories and a reading of Aeschylus’s tragedy, The Persians. Weekly discussion will be supplemented by short lectures on such topics as Herodotus’s historical methods, his narrative techniques, and the cultural assumptions he brings to his exploration of the non-Greek world.

Barbara Clayton, Independent Scholar

Barbara Clayton has been teaching at Stanford Continuing Studies since 1999. She has also taught Classics at Oberlin College, Santa Clara University, and Stanford, where she was a lecturer for eight years. She has published articles on texts as diverse as Homer’s Odyssey, Lucretius’s The Nature of Things, and Aristotle’s biological writings, and she is the author of A Penelopean Poetics: Reweaving the Feminine in Homer’s Odyssey. Clayton received a PhD in Classics from Stanford.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Herodotus, Trans. Robin Waterfield, The Histories (ISBN 0199535663)
(Required) Grene and Lattimore, eds., Aeschylus II (ISBN 9780226311449)