Herodotus and his Sources: Citation, Invention and Narrative Art

Fehling, D., Herodotus and his Sources: Citation, Invention and Narrative Art. Trans J.G. Howie. Leeds: F. Cairns, 1989.

From the Publisher:

“Professor Fehling’s important study of source-citations in Herodotus first appeared in German in 1971 ( Die Quellenangaben bei Herodot ). It proved controversial at the time, setting its face as it did against the general trend of Herodotean studies over the preceding few decades. Herodotus and his ‘Sources’ re-opens the question of the veracity of Herodotus’ source-citations, raised in the last century in Britain by A. H. Sayce and in Germany by H. Panofsky. Their view, in essence that Herodotus simply invented most of the sources to which he attributed his information, so that they were without factual basis, met with general disbelief. However, modern arguments in favour of a factual basis are, as Fehling suggests in his Introduction, logically untenable. A rigorous analysis in Chapters 1 and 2 of Herodotus’ methods of source-citation, and of his narrative strategies, lays the foundation for chapters on the role of free invention in Herodotus and on Herodotus’ use of ‘typical numbers’. Some comparative material from other authors, mainly ancient but also medieval, is adduced. A short concluding chapter sketches some of the wider implications of the view adopted in this study. In this English edition, translated by J. G. Howie in close collaboration with the author, numerous small revisions and a few major ones are incorporated. The translator has aimed at clarity and ease of comprehension. This book will be of primary concern to ancient historians and historiographers; narratologists will also find much in it to interest them.”