on a new translation of Herodotus

Fec64d26-4c72-11e3-_384297hEdith Hall at the Times Literary Supplement:

The Hellenist John Herington once called Herodotus a literary “centaur”, because from the front he looks like a rational intellectual, but his rear parts belong to a primitive creature of the wild. Herodotus’ pioneering prose treatise sought to explain the nature of the world he inhabited, in the mid-fifth century BC, from the events that had taken place across the Mediterranean and Black Sea regions during the reigns of four Persian kings – Cyrus, Cambyses, Darius and Xerxes. These culminated in the victory of Greece over Persia in 480–479 BC. Herodotus, the “father of history”, often uses rational explanations, backed up by evidence. But he also includes many traditional stories and legends, with patently fantastic elements, derived from poems, fables and oral tradition. Herodotus therefore needs a versatile translator who appreciates his hybridity. Enter Tom Holland, a distinguished and highly readable author of both historical non-fiction dealing with ancient empires (Persian Fire, Rubicon,Millennium, The Shadow of the Sword) and popular fantasy novels. He knows more than most of us about how to evoke both real and imagined scenarios with economy, elegance and gusto. Although there is no shortage of rival translations on the market, the Herodotus of Holland has therefore been eagerly awaited.

more here.