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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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For better, for worse…: motivation in the Athenian logoi (Books I, V, and VI)

For better, for worse…: motivation in the Athenian logoi (Books I, V, and VI)

(p.122) 5 For better, for worse…: motivation in the Athenian logoi (Books I, V, and VI)
Motivation and Narrative in Herodotus

Emily Baragwanath (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Moving from Plutarch's accusation that Herodotus is too fond of polarizing questions of motivation into better and worse, and emphasizing the latter, this chapter considers cases of alternative accounts in the Histories where the alternative possibilities relate to questions of motivation. It reviews those where the double explanations do not represent true alternatives; where they are genuine but no ethical judgment attaches to a particular choice; and where the alternatives are indeed morally weighted (e.g. principled versus pragmatic)—as in the case-studies of the Athenians' expulsion of the Pelasgians and failure to expel the Peisistratids. Reader response is not simply a matter, then, of making an autonomous choice between alternatives, but of observing a complex skein of possible motivations and their possible resolutions. Herodotus' presentation implies that polarized views of motivation do not reflect complex realities.

Keywords:   Herodotus, motivation, Plutarch, alternative accounts, alternatives, Athenians, Pelasgians, Peisistratids, reader response

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