Chapter

Mythology and the Expedition of Xerxes

A. M. Bowie

in Myth, Truth, and Narrative in Herodotus

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199693979
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191745324 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199693979.003.0012
Mythology and the Expedition of Xerxes

Show Summary Details

Preview

This chapter considers the role that mythology plays in the later, somewhat more ‘historical’ part of Herodotus' work, to see whether there is anything qualitatively different in the way myth is used in these books compared with the earlier ones. The novelty in the use of myth is to be seen in two principal ways. First, in the way in which, on Xerxes' march, mythology is not simply brought into the narrative to provide extra information about an event, person, or place, but to provide a running commentary on the religious and moral quality of Xerxes' expedition: the myths that are mentioned all have a relevance to understanding the nature of that expedition. Secondly, myths take on a new function within the rhetorics of inter-national relations, being used in hostilely ‘protreptic’ and ‘eristic’ ways to promote a particular people's interests. It thus plays a major role in pointing up the deeply fissured nature of the Greek alliance: myth is not a source of unity.

Keywords: myth and history; Xerxes; Persian Wars; morality; rhetoric; international relations; protreptic; Hellenism

Chapter.  7704 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.