Journal Entry #11
Thursday April 6th, 2017 (1.5 hours class time + 3 hours reading)
Dr. Sandridge brought up the topic of women in Herodotus. Not just women in general, but powerful women that have made an impact in the histories. Knowing from reading the Herodotus’ Histories, he mentions countless of notable and non notable men in every page, yet only a few women in every chapter, implying that his inclusion of these certain women has a purpose within the book.
The first woman Herodotus ends a book chapter with is Tomyris. She was the Queen of the Massagetae, who had successfully defended her land from the inquisitions of the great Persian ruler Cyrus. Along with every Persian ruler, great success in war had showered Cyrus with victories, until he had come across the Massagetae. King Cyrus ends up losing to Queen Tomyris, all because of Cyrus’ own hubris, and his actions that led to the killing of the Queen’s son. Which highlights a surging power that women hold when driven to a certain point, which is their Maternal instincts; but in this case, more of a vengeance. As can be seen from the passage in where Tomyris finds Cyrus’ corpse amongst all the other fallen soldiers, filled the skin with blood mocking the late rulers actions. Her grief over her sons eventual death predominates as she defiles the corpse of Cyrus.
Then in class, the similarity between Queen Tomyris and Cersei Lannister is brought up, relating through their fierce love for their own children. Cersei Lannister throughout the series of Game of Thrones has only done one thing consistently, which was to protect her children at all costs. Whether it have someone killed, or even start a war, all in order to keep her own family safe. Even then, in the end all her children end up dead regardless of her actions to protect each and every one of them. Which lead to her relation to Tomyris, in which now her maternal vengeance shall reign over anyone that opposes her in the new season :) i cant wait :)
Another woman that we come across in Herodotus is Artemisia, hailing from Herodotus’ hometown of Halicarnassus, was the Greek queen of Halicarnassus. She was a calm and calculated woman, who led as an advisor for Xerxes. Often heavily considering military advantages over the impulsive choice of heading straight for battle, which is what most of the male leaders in the battles usually end up doing.
Probably noted as known for her political judgement and wisdom, Gorgo, Queen of Sparta, showed exemplary characteristics as the wife of Leonidas. Her most pivotal role in Herodotus’ Histories is her uncovering of the secret messages Demaratus had sent warning the Spartans of Xerxes impending invasion. With all the men not knowing what to do with a blank wax tablet, Gorgo advised to melt all the wax off, which then presented the hidden message beneath.
Contrary to the women above of notable stature within the Histories, Cyno was at the opposite end of the spectrum. Although she did save the royal child Cyrus from death by his very own grandfather, she was a slave, a servant woman. With the adult Cyrus honoring her for raising him as her own, he ends up disposing his grandfather. Cyno was an abnormality within the book, along with a few others, that acted opposite towards our expectations of women within the book as being the average bearer of children.
While reading book 9, i encountered a statement early. Said by Thersander, “… Many of us Persians know all this, but we follow in the bondage of Necessity. This is the bitterest pain to human beings: to know much and control nothing.”
This was said before the Battle of Platea, regarding the fact that many of the men surrounding them, eating and drinking would not be alive in a few days, that only a few will survive. Insisting that he should tell Mardonius, Thersander mentions the devine gods and their will that cannot be averted by and contrivance. The whole conversation between the two puts into perspective the mindset that the Persian soldiers had when going into battle, which can be apparent when looking at the death of Mardonius. The Persian soldiers act upon necessity, that they have to go to battle because they are of Persia, fearing the consequences that may follow for not doing so. Once Mardonius fell in battle surrounded by Spartans and Persians, the Persian soldiers did not know what to do, choosing to flee because their leader had fallen. On the contrary, when the Spartans are faced with defeat, they do not flee, rather choosing to die in battle then returning in disgrace. Which already shows the contrast between the Persian and Spartan soldiers’ mindset going into battle.
The second part of the quote also was critical because while reading that last part, it felt like the words were heavy. You can feel the emotion of the statement itself when reading the phrase, “This is the bitterest pain to human beings: to know much and control nothing.” To a personal extent, i feel that this holds true, the fact the knowing something that is going to happen but you have no power to act upon it is the worst pain that can happen to anyone(non-physical). One can only imagine the mindset in which a soldier goes into battle knowing the outcome of it, but with no power to avert the outcome.
Wednesday April 12th (3 hours reading)
Finishing book 9, i found it really funny during the battle of Platea, when both the Greeks and Persians countlessly kept reordering their attack lines in response to the enemies attack lines. Mardonius and the Greeks were basically playing a game of cat and mouse to a point where Mardonius finds a “vulnerability” within the Greeks lines, charging directly at the small force of Spartans. Probably not the best of ideas to charge face first into a banded force of Spartans, this led to Mardonius’ death.
After reading the Battle of Platea and the formality of war the Spartans upheld throughout the whole book, i am quite amazed at how organized and reserved the Spartans really are when compared to the opposing forces. They are only made up of usually only a handful of what they are going against, but hold their own at the same time. After their victory at Platea, the Spartans forbid anyone that arrived late to the party(arrived after the fight had already been won) from chasing the fleeing enemies. Which i found it respectable, over the top, and honorable that the Spartans, even at war, keep to their customs.