So did you think that just because I was done reading Herodotus I was done writing about him? I did too, but then realized there were general things I forgot to mention. For instance, did you know the motto of the US Postal Service is from Herodotus? No kidding!
After the big Persian loss in the sea battle at Salamis Xerxes sent a messenger to the Persians to announce the “calamity”
Now there is nothing mortal which accomplishes a journey with more speed than these messengers, so skillfully has this been devised by the Persians: for they say that according to the number of the days of which the entire journey consists, so many horses and men are set at intervals, each man and horse appointed for a day’s journey. These neither snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness of night prevents from accomplishing each one the task proposed to him, with the very utmost of speed.
When I read that I thought it was just a quirky translation that made it sound like the postal service motto. But then reading the appendix of things inspired by Herodotus, the US Postal Service motto is mentioned. Who knew?
I also learned that Herodotus and Sophocles were friends and Sophocles adapted passages from Herodotus for Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone. Aristophanes was also a contemporary of Herodotus and he wrote a parody of Herodotus called The Archarnians. You know I am going to have to read all three of those plays.
Byron wrote The Isles of Greece a poem mourning the Greeks who died at Thermopylae. Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s first published poem was “The Battle of Marathon.” Later husband Robert got into the act with “Pheidippdes” and “Echetlos.” And A.E. Housman wrote The Oracles with the final line of “The Spartans on the sea-wet rock sat down and combed their hair.” And of course there is The English Patient which I am now going to have to read given that Herodotus makes a big appearance in it.
Ok. I’m done with Herodotus. For now.