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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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Problematized motivation in the Samian and Persian logoi (Book III)

Problematized motivation in the Samian and Persian logoi (Book III)

Chapter:
(p.82) 4 Problematized motivation in the Samian and Persian logoi (Book III)
Source:
Motivation and Narrative in Herodotus
Author(s):

Emily Baragwanath (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199231294.003.0004

This chapter considers the way in which evidence from character and action, in the Histories, is not necessarily a guide to motivation; and how, despite the importance Herodotus places on nomoi, these too are no necessary determinant of behaviour. Against the foil supplied by Thucydides' practice in this respect, it examines how Herodotus exposes the difficulties involved in determining motives in his depiction of paradoxical and irrational motivation in the Samian and Persian narratives. Cambyses is taken to be an extreme example of general human behaviour: comparison with others suggests that his behaviour, if extreme, is not entirely idiosyncratic, and deconstructs the idea that Greeks and Persians differ at all in this respect. Herodotus' ascriptions of motives are seen to function as sites of destabilisation that indicate dissonance between intention and outcome, hint at variant readings, or foreground ironies.

Keywords:   Herodotus, Histories, motives, motivation, nomoi, Thucydides, irrational motivation, Cambyses

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