Telling Wonders: Ethnographic and Political Discourse in the Work of Herodotus

Munson, Rosaria Vignolo. Telling Wonders: Ethnographic and Political Discourse in the Work of Herodotus. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001.

From a Review:

“Rosaria Vignolo Munson’s (henceforth M) recent book on Herodotean ethnography and narrative is a must for every classicist’s and ancient historian’s bookshelf. M establishes, once and for all, Herodotus as a directed, focused, and purposeful writer. As one of her primary goals M explicates how Herodotus’ ethnographies inform and support his treatment of the Persian wars, and she masterfully demonstrates how Herodotus as histor, or arbitrator, also presents judgments, reflections, and recommendations about current events and current perceptions to his audience through ethnographic examples. M’s work thus nicely builds on previous Herodotean studies which (to greater and lesser degrees) situate Herodotus in his historical context (e.g., Cobet 1971, Fornara 1971, Raaflaub 1987, Thomas 2000) and which focus on the familiar refrain in Greek literature in general: instruction about the present through examples of the past. M’s work is also important for studies of Greek perceptions of difference and Greek identities, since she argues convincingly that in his ethnographies Herodotus implicitly undermines his audience’s traditional categories of Greekness and challenges them to see similarities between themselves and other groups. Selections from M’s volume will be useful for advanced undergraduates; the entire work will be important for graduate students and scholars of historiography and ancient ethnicities.” – Bryn Mawr Classical Review

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