I began studying for the book nine exam on Thursday. Searched and used an outside resource to review the reading before reading. That took me about an hour. I did that before I went to class. I went to class for and hour and half. We discussed what Herodotus says about the five stories. After class I spent about 30 minutes writing more things about Herodotus and the five stories. I went to class on Tuesday and we discussed marathons, what’s a just killing, where do Gods draw lines, and what it means to be civilized. I spent another 30 minutes doing research on Africa because the topic of civilization stuck with me. On Tuesday I read chapter nine and made a chapter to study for the exam and know the key points; that took about an hour and half. Then it took me about 2 hours to write this journal. I wrote it on the train it usually takes me two hours to get home.
I have been thinking about our readings and about how certain things may and may not have happened. How, after completing background research, scientists say certain things could have been possible or impossible. For instance, the exaggerated number of soldiers in an army or the method in which an individual was assassinated. There were rulers that many deemed crazy, strategic or hubris.
Even though time has changed one thing that hasn’t, is the recording of the story.
In this book of 664 pages, we have had in depth descriptions on religion, culture, governance, war strategies, ideals, and moral.
I have never been so annoyed with digressions and Im the queen of digressions in story telling.
I’ve learned about the Greek, Spartans, Athenians, Locrians, Boeotians, Persians, and so many more nations that are so completely different. It made me think about the world now and my nation America.
Americans in the past 200 years have to be some of the best story tellers in the world. Us and then Europeans.
Coincidentally, I am taking an African Film course. In this class we talk about how film captures the events of the past and uses certain cinematic tools to illustrate a tone and theme. In these movies I have been watching we have be discussing how information isn’t provided about these nations. At times the information provided to America is biased. Africa has always been viewed as a barbaric, illiterate, uncivilized nation. Propaganda like the Pygmy People encouraged westerners to colonize and save the uncivilized people of Africa.
It made me think about Herodotus and the manner in which he attempted to unbiasedly represent the history of the Greeks versus the Persians (or foreigners).
In reading everything I have seen themes of the search of power causing fear, death and happiness, and complacency leading to failure. One thing I did not think about was perception.
Professor Sandridge stated that many of the nations where trying to be “civilized” or provide a since of civilization for those that did not have it. In my African Film class and classmate stated, “who said the African nations were uncivilized or needed to be cultivated and colonized?”
Then I thought about the Pausanias and the feast he created to show how Mardonius had more wealth and was still trying to take from people with less. He also debated about what it means to be Greek, but I wonder why we need these ethnic categories. Why do people all over the world focus on the differences we have towards one another?
What really drives a leader to make their decisions? Is it really for the well being of the people. Or is it for their own source of Kleos. Do leaders do things so they can be remembered for it or do they do it to protect the people. As a leader does it really matter what you do for the people when they die, but history lasts a lifetime if recorded properly?
In my African film class, we discussed a man named Lumumba, Congos first prime minister. This man was an activist and matyr for reform and equality. For speaking for the people he was executed, his body was butchered, thrown in acid and dissolve. The individuals and nations responsible for this brutal execution never had their name recorded and made a pact to keep it a secret. For year many individuals thought that Lumumba disappeared or was secretly imprisoned. It wasn’t until years later that someone involved spoke about what happened the night he was assassinated.
Since that information was never recorded no one knew about it. Currently in Africa, many countries use franks; a form of German European currency. This is because Germany and many Europeans nations imperialized this nation and enforced their beliefs and values on the Africans. Even though many of the nations have received their independence they are not really independent, but subliminally under the rule of Europe.
Which makes me go back to my original point about what drives a leader to make the decisions they do. I even think about the leaders or wise men/advisors that know much, but control nothing. I feel like many of them advise to prevent them from death, but they also earn a certain amount of kleos since they know the history of their actions.
It’s interesting to me to see trickster characters that tend to play the field and have a ball in everybody’s court do well in comparison to those of selfish motives. Even those that want to help the people end up getting the short end of the stick as well. I feel like those individuals that support one cause can be deemed as truly selfish. I see the trickster figure as so selfish in trying to achieve the ultimate greatness that they end up becoming extremely selfless. Trickster figures have a good balance on all sides; they are polytropos.
We also discussed the Persian and Greek elite dining together at Atigenous’ banquet. Professor Sandridge asked why we thought it was possible for the elite to dine together, when their nations are warring. I think its because they have the common ground that they are elite. The fact that they have the status and are under the category of being elite, isolates them; it also brings them together and protects them.
I digress, Professor Sandridge stated that “There are no Greek Gods,” then the reason for all of this clicked. Without the myths and stories we would not know of the Greek Gods. Quite literally, they don’t exist and they could all be made up. Their widespread histories are what help them exist.
When it comes to the five stories here is what I believe about them and what Herodotus was trying to portray.
Social: If you learn about other cultures you will understand how the world works or how they perform similar actions to your own culture.
Career: it doesn’t matter what job you have as long as you leave the hardships of the world. Die happy or die with Kleos you will live forever.
Partnership: the people you choose to interact with can help or hinder you; choose wisely.
Leadership: “What does your leader really stand for?” Is a question that needs to be asked when governing people. How does the way they wish to govern you do for you as a citizen of that nation?
(I’ve recently been wondering do we need a leader or is it possible for people to live their lives without one; as human beings do why do we always look for a leader)
Spiritual: Religion helps set the order in societies. They help in implementing law and order. It also helps provide guidance to people who wish to seek it.
My overall understanding of Herodotus is that it is a book about what it means to be human. No matter what nation, humans experience a hodos with the five stories. There is always eris, whether it’s internal or external, but historia assists with getting through adversities. As humans we follow this cycle of events -it’s in our nature, but if every nation goes through it what makes us so different. Nothing.
Random Digression- John said that the rapper Kendrick Lamar is a modern day oracle, I’m not 100% sure on the oracle part, but he definitely could be an advisor. I was listening to his song Money Trees, which I guess is about the hood and robbing people to make money and gain something over someone else. A lyric in his song is, “Everybody gon’ respect the shooter, but the one in front of the gun lives forever.” Meaning that whoever is the shooter, will get their fame, but dying earns you everlasting Kleos. it made me think about Trayvon Martin or Abraham Lincoln. The list could literally go on. So to me Kendrick would be an advisor for me; but then it comes to perception and how people view things.