Reading guide 5: Herodotus Histories chapters 1-130 (Note: chapter numbers are at the top left of each chapter)
Note: There are references to rape and graphic violence in some of these passages. Please be prepared in advance.
Questions for introduction and chapters 1-25
Summarize Herodotus’ explanation of his goals in his introductory paragraph.
According to Herodotus, what pattern of activity did Persians say was the root cause of tension between Greeks and Easterners? How does the Trojan war fit into these accounts?
What does Herodotus think of these explanations? How does he plan to figure out the origins of the conflict?
Why does Herodotus say that he will write about events in cities “both great and small?”
According to Herodotus, what sequence of events led to king Candaules of Lydia’s death and the rise of Gyges as king of Lydia?
Questions for chapters 26-94
How does Herodotus describe Sardis in the wake of Croesus’ conquests and around the time that Greek “sages” visited?
When Croesus asks Solon who the most fortunate man is, what answer does he expect? Is he happy with Solon’s answer?
What caused Croesus to worry about his son Atys?
Who did Croesus send to protect Atys in the boar hunt and what happened to Atys?
When Croesus consulted the oracle of Apollo at Delphi about whether he should attack Persia what response did he recieve and how did he interpret it, according to Herodotus?
If we take Herodotus at his word in chapter 68, what did Lichas do that made it possible for the Spartans to beat the Tegeans and ultimately conquer the Peloponnese?
How does Sandanis describe the Persians and what advice does he give Croesus about fighting against such people? Does Croesus heed his advice?
According to Herodotus what did the first king of Sardis, Meles, neglect to do that made a gap in the otherwise “invincible” fortifications of Sardis?
How did Croesus’ son prevent him from being killed by a Persian soldier, and what was remarkable about this according to Herodotus?
What does Croesus realize while he is on the pyre and about to be burned alive? Why does Cyrus (the Persian king) command that Croesus be taken down from the pyre?
Look at how Herodotus finishes his accounts of king Gyges in chapter 13, Alyattes in chapter 25, and Croesus in chapter 92. What does he emphasize in each of these sections?
Questions for chapters 107 – 131
According to Herodotus why did the Median king Astyages have his daughter Mandane marry a Persian nobleman named Cambyses, despite seeing Persians as “lesser” and why did he order that their child, Cyrus, be killed?
How does Astyages punish Harpagus for his insubordination?
Who encourages Cyrus to overthrow Astyages?
What does Cyrus promise the Persians if they follow him against Astyages?
Who taunts Astyages after his kingdom falls?