Herodotus. On the War for Greek Freedom: Selections from the Historiestrans. by Samuel Shirley (review)
- Mouseion: Journal of the Classical Association of Canada
- University of Toronto Press
- Volume 4, Number 2, 2004, XLVIII—Series III
- pp. 194-198
- View Citation
- Additional Information
194 BOOK REVIEWS/COMPTES RENDUS parisons. Euphemus' clod is a "fertility symbol" that contributes to a "hospitality" isotopy and a couple of others. It should have gone down to Hades at Taenarum, like Hades' bride Core, like piglets at the Thesmophoria , and since it didn't, the result is "no Calligeneia, no 'Beautiful Birth'," no "process of agricultural growth" for Libya (56). It also stands for "autochthony" in a vegetal isotopy and is paralleled by the Athenian myths of Cecrops and of Erichthonius and by the Theban myth of Oedipus ploughing his mother's furrow (56-59). In Pythian 5, says Calame, Oedipus is evoked by the Theban Aegeidae, who introduce "a matrilineal legitimacy" in place of the illegitimacy that goes with Euphemus' Lemnian sojourn in Pythian 4 (81--82). I found myself teased by vain expectation of another smack at Levi-Strauss. This will suffice as a sampling of Calame's new structuralism. In restricting himself to half a dozen texts on a single subject, Calame has heightened to a rare degree the objection to any structuralism of language or culture, that it is anti-historical. If structures have formed this or that narrative of Cyrene's founding, they must have operated first on all the interested people at Sparta and Thera and Cyrene. Now, it happens that in just these stories there is an olJvious element-it can be suspected in many Greek stories-that may well be due to structures resisting historical change and for that reason all the more discernible and verifiable. It is ritual. Everyone knows that the great Dorian festival Carneia is behind, at the least, certain striking details: it is the occasion of Pythian 5, and the festival ceremony is cited as attesting the story. A structural explanation of Greek ritual has been attempted in different ways by Burkert and by Detienne and Vernant. Though the results so far may be questioned, we can still hope. With semionarrative analysis we cannot. NOEL ROBERTSON VICfORIA, B.C. and DEPARTMENT OF CLASSICS BROCK UNIVERSITY ST. CATHARINES, ON L2S 3A1 SAMUEL SHIRLEY, trans. Herodotus. On the War for Greek Freedom: Selections from the Histories. Edited, with introduction and notes, by James Romm. In.:iianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co. Inc., 2003. Pp. xxvii + 201. US $29.95, ISBN 087220 -668-8 (cloth); US $7.95, ISBN 0-87220-667-X (paper). This new translation of Herodotus, like Walter Blanco's Norton edition, BOOK REVIEWS/COMPTES RENDUS 195 is an abridgement intended primarily for the undergraduate classroom .t It follows eight other complete translations since the middle of the nineteenth century: Henry Cary (1849), Canon George Rawlinson (1858-60), G.C. Macaulay (1890), A.C. Godley (1920), J. Enoch Powell (1949), Aubrey de Selincourt (1954), David Grene (1989) and Robin Waterfield (1998). Cary, Rawlinson, Godley, de Selincourt (lightly revised with notes by John Marincola in 2003), Grene and Waterfield are all in print. Among these six, Cary's version is still the most consistently accurate , economical and deft in tracking the Greek syntax. The defunct Macaulay provides a slightly more exact translation, but he has the bad habit, like Rawlinson, of imposing archaic vocabulary, biblical diction and th-pronouns on Herodotus. Cary wisely-and surprisingly for his age-chose to use plain, unadorned English without the biblicalese that ruins so much of the dialogue in both Rawlinson and Macaulay. Until Robert Strassler's forthcoming Landmark Herodotus appears with its newly commissioned translation, we have two abridged and six complete translations of wildly varying styles and accuracy from which to choose for our students.2 James Romm provides a cursory 13-page general introduction touching on the scope of the Histories, the Persians, the Greeks, the author, the Histories in their time and the editorial practice behind the abridgement. This is followed by a chronological chart of parallel events in Greece, Egypt and the Near East and five clear maps, which do not unfortunately include either Marathon or Plataea. If the book runs into another edition, they ought to be added. The translation itself "is intended to highlight the main story line of the Histories, though in doing so it eclipses a great number of other subjects Herodotus addresses in...