Herodotus in Babylon Research Paper by Shaad

Herodotus in Babylon
A refutation of the claim that Herodotus did not visit Babylon
# 144757 | 2,921 words | 7 sources | MLA | 2009 | BD
Published by on Oct 03, 2010 in History (Greek and Roman) , History (Middle Eastern) , Literature (Greek and Roman)

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This paper refutes the claim that Herodotus did not visit Babylon despite the apparent first hand accounts of the city found in the Histories. It first presents the premise to the claim, describing how Herodotus' accounts conflict with the findings of modern scholarship and then goes on to examine each of these conflicts and offers possible explanations. Where Herodotus seems to be grossly exaggerating the measurement of the city walls, the paper shows how these could have arisen through errors of transcription. Regarding Herodotus' failure to mention the famed Hanging Gardens, the paper argues that the fame of this structure is recent, and that in the context of the Histories it is negligible. Herodotus tells the story of Queen Nitocris, which modern scholarship completely ignores, and the essay shows that there is truth in the story, and that the author could only have learnt it by visiting Babylon. Finally, the paper examines how the author describes Babylonian customs, and concludes that they are indeed first-hand accounts.

From the Paper:

"The argument against Herodotus having visited Babylon centers around two areas. Firstly, Herodotus gives us the dimensions of the city, and the wall surrounding it, in intricate detail, and these appear to be gross exaggerations. Concerning the walls of the city, Herodotus says that it was "fifty royal cubits wide and two hundred high" (Herodotus, Book I, para 179), 85 and 335 feet, respectively - and particularly that its length was "a circuit of some 480 furlongs" (Herodotus, Book I, para 178), which amounts to 56 miles. These figures far surpass what is found by archaeologists, who calculate the perimeter of the wall to be approximately 12 miles. Also, it is confirmed that the Babylonians built their structures out of mud brick, and it is quite impossible for mud brick structures to be built to such dimensions as is found in the histories. However, it is clear that the figures found in the Histories are result of transcription errors. "

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Garthwaite, Gene Ralph. The Persians. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, 2005.
  • Gibbon, Edward. The English essays of Edward Gibbon. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972.
  • Herodotus. The Histories. Trans. Aubrey De Selincourt. Ed. John Marincola. New York: Penguin Classics, 2002.
  • Lempriere, John. A Classical Dictionary. G. and C. Carvill, 1831.
  • Sailhamer, John. Old Testament History. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998.

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Herodotus in Babylon (2010, October 03) Retrieved April 12, 2024, from https://www.academon.com/research-paper/herodotus-in-babylon-144757/

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"Herodotus in Babylon" 03 October 2010. Web. 12 April. 2024. <https://www.academon.com/research-paper/herodotus-in-babylon-144757/>