“Ionian? No Youonian!” – Herodotus’ Hateful Heritage

J.B. Bury, The Ancient Greek Historians:

“We are often tempted to think of Herodotus as an Ionian, although he was not a native of Ionia. He wrote in Ionic; and he cannot be severed from the school of the Ionian historians, to whom his work owed a great deal more than appears on the surface. But if he had heard himself described as an Ionian writer, he would have been vastly indignant. He is at great pains to dissociate himself from Ionia and Ionian interests. In his account of the Ionian revolt and of the part which the Ionians played in the war with Xerxes, he shows a hardly veiled contempt for a people which, as he says, had been thrice enslaved. He tells us that the name ‘Ionian was one of no great repute.’He is careful to record, without any comment, the Scythian opinion that the Ionians were the most cowardly and unmanly people in the world. He takes frequent opportunities of criticizing adversely the views of Ionian writers. Now I think we may say that this antagonistic attitude was not due entirely or principally to the fact that he belonged by birth to Dorian Halicarnassus. He does indeed insist on the difference of Dorian and Ionian, but the contrast on which his anti-Ionian feeling depended was one within the Ionian race itself — the distinction of the Athenians from the Ionians of Asia. We saw that Herodotus was at Athens before he went to Italy, and his connexion with Athens impressed its mark on his political views.”

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