Herodotus and Sima Qian: The First Great Historians of Greece and China A Brief History with Documents

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-09-08
  • Publisher: Bedford/St. Martin's

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In this accessible volume, Thomas R. Martin compares the writings of Herodotus in ancient Greece with those of Sima Qian in ancient China to demonstrate the hallmarks of early history writing. While these authors lived in different centuries and were not aware of each other's works, Martin shows the similar struggles that each grappled with in preparing their historical accounts and how their efforts helped invent modern notions of history writing and the job of the historian. The introduction's cross-cultural analysis includes a biography of each author, illustrating the setting and times in which he worked, as well as a discussion of how each man introduced interpretation and moral judgment into his writing. The accompanying documents include excerpts from Herodotus'The Historiesand Sima Qian'sShiji, which illustrate their approach to history writing and their understanding of their own cultures. Also featured are maps and illustrations, a chronology, questions to consider, and a selected bibliography.

Author Biography

Thomas R. Martin (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Jeremiah O’Connor Professor in Classics at the College of the Holy Cross. He is the author of Sovereignty and Coinage in Classical Greece (1985) and Ancient Greece (2000), and he is a co-author of The Making of the West: Peoples and Cultures (2009). He is also one of the originators of Perseus: Interactive Sources and Studies on Ancient Greece (www.perseus.tufts.edu).

Table of Contents

Forewordp. v
Prefacep. vii
Introduction: Inventing History Writing in Greece and Chinap. 1
The Life of Herodotus (ca. 484-ca. 414 BCE)p. 2
The Persian Wars, 499-479 BCEp. 4
Herodotus's Historical Work: The Historiesp. 5
Greek History Writing before Herodotusp. 5
The Form and Content of Herodotus's Historical Workp. 7
The Life of Sima Qian (ca. 145-ca. 86 BCE)p. 13
The Conquests of the Qin Dynasty, 221 BCEp. 14
Sima Qian's Historical Work: The Records of the Historianp. 16
Chinese History Writing before Sima Qianp. 17
The Form and Content of Sima Qian's Historical Workp. 19
Chronological Table from Sima Qian's: Records of the Historianp. 23
Conclusion: Comparing Herodotus and Sima Qianp. 26
The Documentsp. 29
Herodotus, The Historiesp. 31
How Asia and Europe Became Enemies: The Story of Croesusp. 31
How Others Live: The Customs of the Persians, Egyptians, Massagetai, and Scythiansp. 46
Roping Asia to Europe: The Persian Invasion of Greecep. 52
Death before Dishonor: The Battle of Thermopylae and the Story of the Three Hundredp. 62
Human Wisdom and Divine Vengeance: Artemisia's Advice and Hermotimus's Revengep. 73
Ending Stories: Cruelty and Revenge on Both Sidesp. 78
Sima Qian, The Records of the Historianp. 85
Castration as the Price of Writing History: Sima Qian's Autobiographical Letter to Ren Anp. 85
The First Emperor of China: The Basic Annals of the Qin Dynastyp. 94
Born from a Dragon: The Origins of Gaozu, Founder of the Han Dynastyp. 101
A Woman in Power: Empress Lup. 105
Heroic Hermits: The Biographies of Bo Yi and Shu Qip. 112
Arts of War: The Biographies of Sun Wu and Sun Binp. 115
Imperial Assassin: The Biography of Jing Kep. 120
How Others Live: The Customs of the Xiongnup. 129
A Chronology of the Life of Herodotus and Events in His Histories (560-ca. 414 BCE)p. 139
A Chronology of the Life of Sima Qian and Events in His Records of the Historian (551-ca. 86 BCE)p. 141
Questions for Considerationp. 142
Selected Bibliographyp. 144
Indexp. 147
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