The role and performance of Herodotus as Narrator of the Histories
Claxton, Cynthia Lois
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This dissertation examines the importance of Herodotus as narrator of the Histories. It is noted that Herodotus assumes the stance of both an overt and covert narrator. Herodotus narrates most of the Histories in a very overt fashion. There are sections, however, that Herodotus relates in a much more covert manner by withdrawing his own persona as investigator and historian. In these passages, he narrates the events in such a way that they are presented as virtual mimetic reenactments of their original occurrence. In type of presentation, Herodotus keeps his presence as narrator as minimally detectable as possible so that the reader will have the impression that he has been shown what happened rather than merely told.Chapter One discusses overt and covert narration and Herodotus' place in the development of Greek historiography. Chapter Two discusses Herodotus' use of overt narration and the types of personal statements made by Herodotus are noted. Additional examples of these types of personal expressions are listed in four appendices. In Chapter Three, Herodotus' use of covert narration in the telling of a traditional tale is examined. The analysis of three passages reveals how a covert narrator may shape his readers' perceptions of a character without directly intruding into the text, how important dialogue is in mimetic presentation and how direct speech may be used to present information directly from the points of view of the characters. Herodotus' use of covert narration in his account of historical events is discussed in Chapter Four. Through the analysis of three passages, it is seen that Herodotus adapts the techniques of covert narration discussed in Chapter Three to his account of certain historical events. Herodotus effaces his presence in order to give the impression that a mimetically accurate account is being presented. He recognizes that this type of narration provides a self-explanatory picture of the event. The historian/narrator allows the historical personages to tell their own story. The points of view of the individuals and the conflicting issues in the event thus avoid the appearance of having been filtered through the eyes of the historian.