Returning to Troy: Herodotus and the Mythic Discourse of his own Time

Emily Baragwanath

in Myth, Truth, and Narrative in Herodotus

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199693979
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191745324 | DOI:
Returning to Troy: Herodotus and the Mythic Discourse of his own Time

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Herodotus articulates the continuing presence and relevance of myth in the world of the fifth century. This chapter begins by examining an episode near the end of the Histories, where Herodotus appropriates local, oral mythological traditions in the form of a story about Helen of Troy (9.73). Herodotus' presentation reveals the role of mythic discourse in shaping fifth-century events as well as drawing out wider points about historical processes. The chapter then goes on to address the more sustained and complex example of Mardonius' self-mythicising image, where reference to the mythic past is inflected through the Panhellenic poetic genres of epic and tragedy, and the questions it raises about the purposes and effects of mythic discourse on the twin levels of history and the historian's presentation.

Keywords: Xerxes; Mardonius; Helen of Troy; theseus; mythic thinking; self-mythicising; Greek tragedy; Attic tragedy; myth and history; Persian Wars

Chapter.  11167 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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