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Motivation and Narrative in Herodotus$
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Emily Baragwanath

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199231294

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199231294.001.0001

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Constructions of motives and the historian's persona

Constructions of motives and the historian's persona

(p.55) 3 Constructions of motives and the historian's persona
Motivation and Narrative in Herodotus

Emily Baragwanath (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses Herodotus' portrayal of characters in the Histories whose inquiries into questions of motivation parallel his own. In discussing the dual persona of the Herodotean narrator, it reformulates Plutarch's charge that Herodotus slid too easily between the categories of ‘historian’ and ‘sophist’. It contends that Leonidas in the Thermopylae narrative (with its interweaving of heroic and more pragmatic motivations) is constructed in the Herodotean narrator's likeness, imitating the methods and purposes of the narrator in his approach to questions of motives, and displaying a polarized personality. The metatextual perspective furthers one's characterization of Herodotus at the same time as it reinforces the importance of questions of motivation.

Keywords:   Herodotus, Histories, motivation, sophist, historian, characterization, Leonidas, Thermopylae, Plutarch, metatextual perspective

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