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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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Xerxes: motivation and explanation (Books VII–IX)

Xerxes: motivation and explanation (Books VII–IX)

Chapter:
(p.240) 8 Xerxes: motivation and explanation (Books VII–IX)
Source:
Motivation and Narrative in Herodotus
Author(s):

Emily Baragwanath (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199231294.003.0008

This chapter examines the interaction of ascriptions of motivation with wider patterns of explanation for Xerxes' failure, illustrating how, for example, specific attributions of motive—particularly the alternative possibilities—may encapsulate and draw attention to wider explanations. They may strengthen the impression that different explanations arise from different perspectives (particularly Greek versus Persian), thus illuminating the role of focalization in fashioning motives. The charge of megalophrosunê at Histories 7.24 is reevaluated, with Xerxes' notorious digging of the Athos Canal viewed as a matter as much of display as of hybris. The twin comparisons of Xerxes with his predecessors Darius and Cambyses highlight how Xerxes' behaviour is often at least as much the result of the circumstances in which he finds himself as of his character.

Keywords:   Histories, motives, motivation, explanation, perspectives, focalization, Xerxes, Darius, Cambyses, Athos, megalophrosunê

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