Reading once again Herodotus

The recent NRA encouraged but otherwise mindless shootings at El Paso and Odessa, Texas, came to mind while reading Herodotus (I’m making a major effort to read the great books, some of them anyway, in the years left me for such).
I’ve had most of the great books on my shelves for most of my life, years and years, and they’re still with me right now on our bookshelves here in Tampa, FL but I’ve only tasted them, often yes, but only rarely swallowed them whole and digested them. So it’s about time. That life-long education we talk so much about. pbw

I take the following passage from Jennifer Roberts’s. Herodotus: A Very Short Introduction

Our roving reporter, a thinker and traveler of insatiable curiosity, catches us up in his narrative by the intensity of his contagious thirst for knowledge. Whether about the true story of the abduction of Helen (she was never, Herodotus says, in Troy, but remained in Egypt throughout the war), the way the Scythians buried their kings (with many retainers), …

how the Trausians greet the birth of a baby (mourning the sufferings it will have to endure),

how the Greeks and Persians came to blows (a very long story indeed), Herodotus wants to know. He would have heartily agreed with Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuściński (who travelled all over the world with a copy of The Histories) that ‘Without trying to enter other ways of looking, perceiving, describing, we won’t understand anything of the world.’ And he imparts this burning desire to us as we read, for he not only wants to know about the broad diversity of customs and values in the world; he wants us to know too. A conspicuous lack of Greek chauvinism undergirded Herodotus’s ethnography and spurred it on. Yet for all his tolerance, for all his praise of individual Persian customs… –

the writer greatly approves their practice of keeping a boy from his father for the first five years of his life, lest it be too upsetting to him if the child should die

he nowhere suggests that Eastern autocracy is as viable an institution (attention Donald Trump) as the variety of more broadly based governments that marked the Greek world.

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