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Saber and Scroll

Abstract

Excerpted on author's behalf:

In the Histories, Herodotus’s admiration of Athenian Democracy is apparent when he compares a strong, democratic Athens in the fifth century BC to monarchies and tyrannies. Compelled to satisfy the needs or decisions of kings and tyrants, Persian soldiers became compulsory participants, which often transmuted into disasters on the battlefield. On the contrary, Athenian democracy’s anti-aristocratic arrangement promoted cooperative decision-making for the interest of the community. This freedom encouraged soldiers to become willing participants in warfare. Although victory was not always in their hands, to Herodotus, fighting for the collective interest of a community rather than for the narcissistic pursuit of one leader fostered an unwavering commitment to the cause. Inspired by Athenian ways of expressing egalitarian values, Herodotus’s intention for writing the Histories was not to give Greece a sense of its historical identity, but to endorse the advantages of democratic rule over tyranny. This paper will prove that Herodotus's purpose for writing the Histories was to promote democracy.

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