Why Did Herodotus not Mention the Hanging Gardens of Babylon?

Stephanie Dalley

in Herodotus and his World

Published in print March 2003 | ISBN: 9780199253746
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191719745 | DOI:
Why Did Herodotus not Mention the Hanging Gardens of Babylon?

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In 1883, early in the days of deciphering cuneiform inscriptions, Archibald Sayce published a commentary on Herodotus' History Books 1-3, entitled The Ancient Empires of the East. He quoted authorities of his own time who questioned the reliability of Herodotus. Ctesias was reckoned a more trustworthy informant who ‘had good reason for accusing Herodotus of errors in his Assyrian history’. After all, Ctesias lived at the Persian court, and so he was supposed to have drunk from more direct sources of knowledge about the ancient Near East than Herodotus could have done. One hundred and twenty years after Sayce published his work, Assyriologists are in a better position to comment on Babylonian and Assyrian matters, thanks to the perseverance and brilliance of several generations of scholars. This chapter does not attempt to verify Herodotus on every point; rather it looks at certain items of information in the light of recent solid progress in ancient Near Eastern studies. It aims to try and find out why certain details appear to be incorrect, and to show how over-eager corrections, made from a poor base of evidence, are occasionally wrong.

Keywords: Assyriology; Archibald Sayce; Ctesias

Chapter.  5402 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical Literature

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