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Herodotus and the rhetoric of otherness.

The first part of this essay investigates the validity of current readings of certain stories in Herodotus in terms of the rhetoric of male/female otherness. The second part discusses their presentation of women in terms of the rhetoric of the otherness of the royal barbarian. "Rhetoric" is a language whereby the various poles of otherness are defined by comparison or by inversion or by other deliberate means.(1)

Dewald writes that Herodotus more than some other writers presents women as they were, unconstrained by generic concerns or tendentious argument:

The women who appear in his account are not depicted according to the prior conventions of a genre - as, for instance, they are in Attic tragedy with its organising polarities, in which women often signify disruption and disorder, or as in oratory, whose conventional typologies require that women appear as docile homebodies if they belong to the speaker, ubiquitous harridans or worse if they belong to the speaker's opponents. A real effort is made to describe women as they were, or at least as Herodotus thinks they must have been. Finally because Herodotus virtually invented the genre in which he was writing, his narrative structure is a great deal freer than that of his successors, and it is frequently shaped by loose association of ideas. In the paratactic progression that winds through the Histories women are not his chief focus of attention. He does not write the Histories in order to prove a thesis about them as social actors . . . ; they tend to occur instead incidentally, as part of the background of his main narrative themes. His portrait is for that reason more likely to reveal aspects of feminine behaviour and social values that more aggressively argumentative accounts neglect.(2)

Reactions to this will depend on definitions of genre. Herodotus' Histories cannot sensibly be called a genre, but the narrative modes in which he writes include geographical and ethnographical excursuses, genealogies and catalogues, and the short story, and these do exhibit generic patterns, either traditional or introduced by Herodotus himself. The ethnographies in particular reveal generic patterns which seem to portray women not as they were, but as part of the construction of barbaric otherness.(3) Herodotus' short stories also manipulate a set of conventions - stock characters, behaviours, or situations - some of which are found in myth as well.(4) "Greek mythology is like a language - a set of conventions allowing meaning to be created and communicated."(5) Manipulation of the conventions may well advance some argument regarding women rather than portray them as they really were.

There is, for example, a convention behind the stories of the mothering of Cypselus of Corinth and the mothering of Cyrus of Persia.(6) The mother of Cypselus, named Labda, belonged to the ruling clan of the Bacchiads at Corinth but was married to a man of an inferior clan because she was lame. When she gave birth to Cypselus, her clan sent armed men to kill him because of oracles which said that he threatened their rule. She saved him by concealing him in a chest, and he grew up to usurp their power (5.92). The mother of Cyrus, named Mandane, belonged to the royal family of Media, but her father married her off to a Persian of lesser rank because of a dream that her child would overwhelm all Asia. She gave birth to Cyrus, and a further dream made her father give instructions for her child's destruction. The wife of a herdsman, a substitute mother, eventually saved him to grow up to overthrow his grandfather (1.107-29). These conventional patterns may have been originally based on recurrent historical realities but have largely departed their company. The coincidence of the names and dilemmas of the characters gives reason to doubt the historicity of the stories. Cypselus was a historical character, but his name means "chest" and though Herodotus says he was named for the chest that hid him, his name seems likelier to have generated the story. Cyrus was also historical, but his substitute mother is the equivalent of the she-wolf who suckles Romulus and Remus in their version of the story. Herodotus translates her name, Spaco, as "she-dog" (1.110) and refers to the version which his birth parents spread to increase his fame, that had the mother take the form of an animal (1.122). This leaves the impression that his rationalisation is not far removed from the myth. There were many versions besides of the birth and upbringing of Cyrus.(7)

Flory does explicitly recognise that Herodotus uses typologies for women, and he suggests that they are part of a rhetoric of male/female otherness. He sees the vengeful queen from the stories of Candaules and Xerxes as one of the elements in the "language" of storytelling, which has "not been generally recognised and never thoroughly studied," and he draws up a female psychology for the vengeful queen, showing her to be intelligent and perceptive and self-controlled and calculating and successful, in contrast to the folly and impetuosity of the male figures in the story. Other vengeful queens like Tomyris, Pheretime, and Amestris show similar patterns.(8)

Dewald also suggests a rhetoric of otherness when she sees some active women in "full partnership with men in establishing and maintaining social order" and "representatives themselves of social norms their husbands have flouted" (92), maintaining social order "even when they protest and thwart the objectives of their menfolk" (97). Passive women "mark the importance of the family" (93), and in marriage "form the underlying basis for conflict, without themselves participating in it" (95). Active women go further: "Their role is developed most sharply . . . in the context of the crisis between husband and wife; here occur the most pointed examples of women working to resist male aggression and check male excess. . . . Candaules at the very beginning of the Histories and Xerxes at its very end abuse their position as husbands by considering their queen's honour and status negligible in the face of their own sexual desires. In each account, the wife gains the upper hand because she does not act according to her husband's vision of reality but takes steps independently to defend her own honour and social status. It is the blindness of both monarchs to the possibility of such independence that brings them down" (105-6). Herodotus is arguing that "society functions because of the reciprocity that exists between men and women . . . the family women who scheme do so to protect their own position and authority in response to male outrage. Because of their sensitivity to convention and its limits, they are more successful than men in achieving their objectives." Dewald sets the otherness of women in the context of limit, which is a major concern of Herodotus' Histories. She is nevertheless too generous in putting them on the side of the good, as is Flory in believing them more effective. Gould sees that any one formula of their role would be mistaken.(9) Lateiner agrees that though some women are symbolic of the family and indicators of the health of the commonweal, others (like Xerxes' queen) represent the unhealthy regime which transgresses limit and illustrates the outrage and anomaly that flourish in despotisms.(10)

The stories of the lusts of Candaules and Xerxes seem particularly important, nevertheless, because their similar patterns of action and their location, more or less at the beginning and end of the Histories, give the impression that they carry programmatic weight, informing each other in some way to create common meaning. Dewald implies that their programme is to show women championing social order. Flory thinks that they inform Herodotus' historiography. Wolff suggests that they hinted at the death of Xerxes beyond the limit of the work. Candaules' lust led to his death and implied a similar end for Xerxes' lust. This came with his murder in 465 B.C., many years after the end of the Histories.(11)

Yet the identification of a "programme" is flawed unless it takes account of other stories which exhibit similar patterns of action and occur in other significant locations. Gould criticises some previous studies of women in antiquity for the tendency to draw general conclusions from very selected parts of it.(12) This is a case in point, for there are other similar stories in other parts of the work whose variations do not support the alleged "programmes."(13) The story of the lust of Ariston, king of Sparta, for the wife of his comrade Agetus has a similar pattern of action, but the woman does not reimpose limits, nor does Ariston suffer much for his transgression (6.62). The story of the overthrow of Astyages, king of Media, by his grandson Cyrus through the agency of his vizier Harpagus has even more stunning similarities to the two programmatic stories, as well as a location that invites analogical comparison with the story of Candaules (1.107-29). Yet there is no woman involved in the overthrow of Astyages, and his fate is sealed within the compass of the story, ruling out one yet to be fulfilled. The stories of Candaules and Astyages indeed have more in common with each other than with the story of Xerxes. They lead to the establishment of new dynasties in Lydia and Persia, whereas the latter deals with an attempt at usurpation that failed. They also share a significant location at the beginning of the first two major logoi. The sequential reader might be more likely to identify these stories as programmatic than those at the beginning and end of the whole work.

An examination of all the stories of similar type produces typologies of both men and women which alter the understanding of Herodotus' representation of women and suggest other readings. I therefore begin by examining the common structures and motifs behind a range of stories including those of Candaules and Xerxes.

Candaules lusted for his own wife and thought her the most beautiful of women, but he wanted to prove the point by showing her naked to his bodyguard Gyges, whom he liked and trusted with his most important affairs. Gyges resisted the king's suggestion on the grounds that "each man should look at his own," that there might be repercussions from the queen, and that it was contrary to sexual custom; but Candaules reassured him that he would arrange everything, and Gyges had to give in because Candaules was his master. Candaules secreted him in the bedroom one night, but the queen noticed him as he made his escape. She did not cry out, however, but secretly plotted revenge. The next morning she gathered her attendants and told Gyges that he had to kill himself for what he had witnessed or kill the king and take her and the throne. Gyges again resisted but in vain. The queen secreted him in the bedroom with a knife, and he killed the king and took her and the throne. His rule was subsequently confirmed by Delphi, but with the warning that the house would fall in the fifth generation. His sustasiotai were pleased.

The story in question exhibits the following stages:

1. King lusts for woman (his own wife)

2. King issues unpleasant instructions designed to promote his lust to an inferior but trusted subject who is bound to obey them even though they will offend queen

3. Subject resists instructions but obeys

4. Queen discovers and takes offence, conceals reaction, plots revenge in secret

5. Queen issues unpleasant instructions to secure revenge to same subject, who is again bound to obey

6. Subject resists instructions but obeys

7. Subject kills king and takes his power with active assistance of offended queen.

The characters in the story are the king and the queen and the inferior male subject, a bodyguard in this case, who is close to the king and trusted by him - Gyges is "pleasing" to his master and "entrusted with the most serious of his affairs" (1.8.2) - but who is also bound to obey. The king offends the queen and she turns the subject against his king as an agent for her revenge. Herodotus gives greatest space in his story to the compulsion worked on Gyges by first the king and then the queen, perhaps because this is where the drama lies, or perhaps because the master/subject relationship has its own special interest for him (see below).

The other story follows a similar pattern. Xerxes conceived a lust first for the wife of Masistes, his younger brother, and then for his daughter. The wife resisted and Xerxes refrained from doing violence to her out of respect for his brother, but the daughter did not resist and Xerxes made her his mistress. Xerxes' queen, Amestris, discovered the offence. She made a fine cloak for her husband, and he was so pleased with it that he went to his mistress and told her she could have anything she wanted.(14) The mistress, Artaynte by name, bound Xerxes to his offer, then asked for the cloak. Xerxes resisted, offering her anything but the cloak, knowing that he would be found out if he gave it, but he could not move her and was bound by oath and had to give it. Amestris saw the girl wearing the cloak, realised the offence but did not let on, and planned revenge in secret. The object of her revenge was not her husband, however, but the wife of Masistes, whom she held responsible for her daughter's liaison. She waited until the King's Feast Day, when Xerxes had to grant favours to all who asked. She asked for the wife of Masistes. Xerxes resisted but he could not move her and was bound by the custom and had to give in. Amestris secured her revenge by mutilating the woman and leaving her for dead. Xerxes meanwhile asked his brother to divorce his wife and take his own daughter. Masistes refused to divorce such a good woman and provoked Xerxes to swear that he would teach him how to accept favours - he would neither get the daughter nor continue to enjoy the wife. Masistes took offence when he discovered her maltreatment. He raised revolt, and Xerxes killed him for it.

The motifs of the story of Candaules are here reversed and complicated to make a much more twisted story. Candaules' lust for his own queen is replaced by Xerxes' twin lusts for his brother's women, but Xerxes still offends his queen in the pursuit of his lust. The double lust permits the irony in which the queen will take revenge on the honest wife for her daughter's wrong, and thus commit the offence against his brother from which Xerxes himself refrained. The vengeful queen runs true to form in concealing her offence, plotting in secret, and securing a dreadful punishment. Amestris could in another version take revenge directly on her husband as Candaules' queen did, or on the mistress, but her revenge against the wife of Masistes sets the scene for the breakdown of good relations between Xerxes and his brother at the story's end.

The characters again include the king, his queen, and the trusted inferior bonded to the king who will be provoked by despotic acts to try to usurp the king's power. Masistes' inferiority consists in his status as younger brother rather than bodyguard - he calls Xerxes "master" (9.111.4, 112.1) - and their bond was established in the preceding story, in which Xerxes shows his gratitude to the man who saved Masistes' life (9.107.5), as well as in Xerxes' refusal to rape his brother's wife out of regard for him. Xerxes' double lust necessitates two new female characters in addition: relatives-in-law of the king.

Xerxes plays the role of the subject in the first part of the story, however, in a twist which sees his mistress and his queen play out the roles of Candaules and his queen, compelling the king through their requests for favour (as if he were a subject) to give gifts that will prove fatal to his bond with his brother. He resists mightily in both cases, like the subject Gyges, but he is bound to obey in spite of his status because of the binding nature of the requests. The "normal" pattern of the first part of the story, in which the king issues unpleasant instructions to a subject, nevertheless asserts itself in the second part, when Xerxes gives instructions to Masistes as a superior to an inferior, to divorce his wife and take another. Masistes resists this unpleasant instruction because he is a faithful husband, but unlike Gyges he disobeys and rebels. The usurpation fails in this story, whereas it succeeded in the other.

Flory (44) notes the repetition of the story of the "fatal favour" of Artaynte and Amestris in a third story of a king's lust. King Ariston of Sparta lusted after the wife of his nonroyal "comrade" Agetus, for she was the most beautiful woman in Sparta (6.62). He secured the object of his lust by proposing to give Agetus whatever he wanted of his possessions, asking in return that Agetus give Ariston whatever he wanted of his - meaning all along to ask Agetus for his wife. Herodotus says that Agetus agreed because he knew that Ariston already had a wife and would not want another, pointing the story toward its closure. They swore oaths and Agetus took what he wanted. Ariston then reached for his wife. Agetus resisted and said he could have anything else, but to no avail - he was bound by oath and caught by the deceit.

The lust of the king for the wife of another, the issuing of the unpleasant instruction to an inferior male subject to give him the object of his lust, the vehement but futile resistance of the subject and the motif of the fatal but binding request all mark this story as the same type as the others. Yet there is no vengeful queen. Ariston's lust could have led to offence to his current wife and her subsequent revenge, but she does not take revenge and Agetus does not proceed to rebellion. Instead the new wife bears Demaratus, whom Ariston does not recognise as his own son at first, but who then succeeds to the throne with his support. This makes Demaratus an infant equivalent of the adult usurper in a variation on the last stage of the story - when a woman, directly like Candaules' queen, or more indirectly or unwittingly like Amestris, attempts to replace her husband with an outsider.

The story of the usurpation of Cyrus does not involve lust, nor does it have a vengeful queen, but it is nevertheless of the same generic assemblage as the earlier stories (1.107-29). Astyages, king of Media, dreamed that his daughter's child would overwhelm Asia, first in the form of rivers of her urine, then in the form of a large grapevine growing from her womb. He married her to a Persian of inferior status to ensure that her child would share this inferiority, and when she gave birth to Cyrus, he instructed his loyal retainer Harpagus to kill the child. Harpagus reasoned that the princess and her father might hold it against him at some future stage if he killed the child in person, and while appearing to obey the king, gave the child to a herdsman to kill. The herdsman took it home and his wife persuaded him to keep it, substituting it for their own stillborn infant. His grandfather discovered that Cyrus had survived when he was brought to book for playing a game in which he beat other boys of greater status. Astyages decided that his playing "king" over the other boys fulfilled the portents, consulted the Magi, and let him live. He nevertheless blamed Harpagus for his disobedience and plotted against him, concealing his anger, inviting him and his son to a banquet on a pretence of goodwill, then killing his son and serving him up to his father as meat. Harpagus took natural offence but concealed his anger and planned revenge in secret. He contacted Cyrus in his backwoods home when he grew to manhood and persuaded him to rebel, working from inside the king's military force to suborn the principal men. Cyrus overthrew Astyages and took his power.

Lust to retain power replaces sexual lust here as the motive for the king's offence, and the offence consists in killing a child rather than taking or exposing a woman, but Xerxes' twin lusts find their echo in Astyages' twin attacks on children, the first on his daughter's child, the second on Harpagus' child. Harpagus also disobeys the king's unpleasant instructions to kill the child in another variation on the "normal" pattern, and instead of giving offence to the princess, he thus gives offence to the king. The characters include at first the king and the standard inferior male, Harpagus, "a man of his household . . . most trusted . . . regent of his affairs," who is nevertheless bound to obey. The king appears to play the role of the vengeful queen when he punishes Harpagus for his disobedience. Harpagus then takes his turn at playing her role, provoking Cyrus to usurp royal power, just as Candaules' queen provoked Gyges.

Herodotus makes it clear that in another turn of events Candaules' pattern might have prevailed: Harpagus might have obeyed the king's unpleasant instruction to kill the child, and the motif of the vengeful queen might have been played out by his daughter. Harpagus explicitly refers to the possibility of the mother of Cyrus taking revenge against him if he killed her son in person as the king had requested (1.109.4). She might have made him kill Astyages and take his power. Herodotus also makes it clear that in another version of the story Harpagus might have taken power for himself, as Gyges did, but he credits him with lack of the power to do so, since he was a "private citizen" (1.123.2). Astyages also alludes to the possibility of Harpagus' usurping royal power and blames him for not doing so (1.129.4). The variations address the basic typology.

There is sufficient here to see that the stories in question are made up of conventional patterns which Herodotus assembles and treats in varying ways.(15) We can now proceed to some discussion of how to read their presentation of women.

The first matter is the possibility of a generic female character, "other" from the male. Flory believes that the vengeful queen in the two programmatic stories demonstrates intelligence and self-control. Candaules' queen immediately realizes that her husband has set her up when she sees Gyges leaving the room - as if she understands her husband's obsession with her beauty. She refrains from shouting aloud in alarm and conceals her affront - indicating her self-control. Her intelligence is further shown in the way in which she prepares for the scene with Gyges and manipulates him into doing what she wants. Amestris has the same qualities. She does not need special intelligence to work out the implications of her husband's mistress wearing the cloak, but the way in which she conceals her offence and plots her revenge in secret, waiting for the moment of the King's Feast Day when she can ask for the person she believes to be the guilty party to be delivered into her merciless hands, looks like a manifestation of the stereotyped female intelligence of the vengeful queen.(16)

The men are witless by contrast. Candaules does not know his wife as well as she knows him and therefore does not predict her reaction. Herodotus' comment that he was fated to die is an indication of his witlessness. Gyges has a very passive and fearful psychology and "cries out" at the very idea of Candaules' dreadful plan in an almost feminine alarm, whereas Candaules' wife does not cry out even when the idea is realised, but turns her mind to revenge - showing her greater control. Xerxes' free offer of favour to his mistress is also said to be most imprudent.(17)

This is to generalize from one example with occasional and rather unsystematic reference to a second. The gender interpretation of the remark about Candaules' being fated to die (1.8.3) is untenable, as such comments are devices regularly used to point stories toward closure, particularly dreadful outcomes.(18) Herodotus uses the same phrase of Xerxes' mistress (9.109.2), that she was "fated to come to a bad end with all her household" - which makes it an indication of a woman's witlessness as well. The description of Gyges as "entrusted with the most important of the king's affairs" (1.8.2) is said to hint at Candaules' neglect of his affairs in his lust for the beauty of his wife,(19) but Harpagus' similar description as "regent of all his affairs" (1.108.5) should then mean that Astyages also neglects them - yet Astyages seems very attentive to his affairs, in discovering the truth about the survival of Cyrus, for example. Perhaps "the jealous queen tricks the foolish Xerxes into putting into her power (the wife of Masistes)."(20) Yet she only manipulates the custom of the Feast Day. Xerxes cannot be called foolish, though the custom might be.

Systematic generic comparison indicates that men can take on the role of the vengeful queen and share her "psychology." The story of the usurpation of Cyrus falls into two halves, in which the role of the vengeful queen is played first of all by a vengeful king, and then in turn by a vengeful servant. Astyages begins by playing the role of the offending king, giving instructions to his servant Harpagus to kill his grandson, but Harpagus' disobedience shifts the potential offence to the royal family, from killing a member of the family to offending the king by disobeying him and letting the child survive. Astyages then plays the role of the vengeful queen and proceeds through the normal stages of recognition (1.116), discovery (1.117), concealment (1.118), preparations for revenge, and implementation (1.118-19). His discovery and recognition show a combination of intuition and inquiry more elaborate than Candaules' queen's, because the offence has been more elaborately concealed. His concealment of his anger is no less impressive. His pretence that Harpagus has given him no offence but rather has pleased him, and his show of convivial goodwill in inviting Harpagus and his son to dinner even as he makes preparations to serve up the son to his father on a platter, are even more calculating. Candaules' queen did not go so far, nor did Amestris.

The horror of his revenge is every bit as great as those of the women. The dead husband and the mutilated rival are easily equalled by the cooked child and the father's feast. Flory notes the poetic justice of the vengeful queen as a credit to her womanly intelligence, that she has Candaules killed in the very bedroom on the very spot by the very man who saw her naked.(21) Amestris kills the woman who had resisted her husband's advances and drives Masistes to rebellion with the very violence that her husband refused to use out of respect for his brother. Astyages also takes a peculiarly poetic punishment: the killing of a child in return for not killing a child. The "unveiling" of the dish containing the head, hands, and feet of the butchered boy (1.119.5-6) recalls the "unveiling" of Cyrus from his burial clothing (1.112.1).

Harpagus in the second part of the story then takes on the role of the vengeful queen in his turn. This begins when in recognizing what has been done to him, he repeats the reaction of the wife of Candaules on sensing her exposure:

. . . uncovering the dish he sees the remains of his son, but seeing them, he was not struck with fear, but remained inside himself. (1.119.6)

. . . the woman sees him as he makes his escape, but realizing what her husband had done, she did not shout out in her shame nor give the appearance of knowing, but had it in mind to take revenge on Candaules. (1.10.3)

Amestris in the story of Xerxes' lust shows the same pattern:

. . . Amestris sees her wearing (the cloak), but though she realized what had been done, she was not angry with the mistress, but plotted destruction of the girl's mother. (9.110.1)

The unveiling of a wrong in various senses, and firm self-control in the face of horror, are present in all three stories. Harpagus shows even more self-control than the women because he not only conceals his shock, but when Astyages asks him whether he knows what he has been eating, he replies that he does, and that the king's actions please him (1.119.6-7). His gut is pure steel. His knowledge of what has happened is less intuitive because the story does not require intuition. Astyages deliberately reveals the authorship of the wrong when he shows Harpagus the head, hands, and feet and asks him what he thinks he had for dinner. Candaules' queen would not have required intuition either, had Candaules been intent on enjoying her discomfort.

There are further examples of male intuition in the story of Xerxes' lust. Amestris' recognition of the implications of her cloak on the shoulders of her husband's mistress is an example of wrong intuition - for the girl's mother is blameless - but Xerxes certainly could not know that she would choose the wrong target of revenge. Yet when she asks him for the wife of Masistes, Herodotus tells the reader that Xerxes "knew why she was asking" (9.110.3). This is at least on a par with the recognition by Candaules' queen of the meaning of the presence of Gyges in her bedroom. The intuition is predicated not on gender but on action.

Harpagus then implements the revenge that he has been plotting (1.123). Flory admires the planning of Candaules' queen, taking precautions to secure her household and showing the kind of understanding of Gyges' psychology that enables her to take control of him, as a man inclined to listen to the "right" thing, and fearful of compulsion.(22) The same and more must be said of Harpagus' manipulation of Cyrus. Herodotus describes Cyrus as "most courageous and most disposed to friendship" when he reached adulthood. Harpagus works on these qualities, sending gifts to turn Cyrus to his purpose, then securing his "alliance" by "making the sufferings of Cyrus like his own" (1.123-24). He suborns prominent Persians, and then sends Cyrus his message in the body of the hare, telling him that he has divine protection, claiming that he saved Cyrus as a child when Astyages would have had him killed, offering him the empire, and promising military support. His understanding of the friendly nature and courage of the usurper, and his careful and deliberate planning for the usurpation, are a study in manipulation. Candaules' queen merely prepares her household and delivers her ultimatum to Gyges under threat of death. Amestris waits for her moment. Harpagus does not have the power to compel, but he leaves no stone unturned.

General similarities persist in the implementation of the usurpation. Harpagus and Candaules' queen both offer inside assistance to the usurper: she introduces him into the bedroom, Harpagus invites him to invade Media from the wilds of Persia; she gives Gyges a knife, Harpagus prepares the military support of prominent Medes. The military struggle when it comes is as brief as the knife-thrust of Gyges - the Medes have been primed in advance by Harpagus and have found the rule of Astyages too "bitter."

The revenge story thus seems to me to require a character who is quick to recognise the wrong done, self-controlled in concealing it, manipulative in avenging it, and frequently successful in mediating the transfer of power from the king to an inferior. Women and men fill these roles. The stereotype is not fixed to gender.

Nor are vengeful queens more successful than men.(23) Harpagus may have failed to take the throne for himself and enslaved the Medes to the Persians instead, but Candaules' queen also secures the end of the dynasty she helped found. To say that "the line she founds with her husband lasts five generations and rises to real greatness in Croesus, its final heir"(24) ignores this ultimate failure and the Pythia's condemnation of the "treachery" of her part in it (1.91.1). Amestris fails to kill her real rival. There is no report of the death of the mistress, and Xerxes survives to enjoy other liaisons.

The story of the unexpected request is another motif played out by men and women with equal success and failure. Artaynte and Amestris gain the upper hand over Xerxes and secure the doom of the house. Ariston secures the wife of Agetus, for all the happiness that that will add to his life. The pattern is also used for the request put less successfully to Xerxes by Pythius the Lydian (7.38). The equality of the sexes in these conventions is sometimes ironic. Amestris asks for a woman as Ariston does, but her intention is murder, not marriage.

There seems to be no specific female character or action in such stories, then, when their roles and behaviours are occupied with equal ease by men. The stories indeed seem to ignore the need for "normal" psychologies. It is not normal for a woman who sees her husband in bed and a strange man behind the door to assume that her husband has put him there to look at her. Amestris assumes that the girl's mother is to blame when she sees Artaynte wearing the cloak she gave her husband - though there is nothing in her recorded experience to lead her to this assumption. Xerxes asks his brother to divorce his wife even though he knows that Masistes loves his wife and has refrained from raping her for this reason. Herodotus explains at least one character's psychological lapse through forgetfulness, a common narrative device of the storyteller. He says that Astyages, having made Harpagus eat his cooked son, must have quite forgotten this when he chose to appoint Harpagus commander of the army to fight Cyrus: "being god-harmed he appointed Harpagus as general, forgetting what he had done to him" (1.127). Gould also sees such divine seizures of the wits as serving the demands of the action, like the indication that someone in the story is "fated to a bad end."(25) The absence of "normal" psychologies might nevertheless also be in these stories part of the characterisation of the barbarian (see below).

The short answer to the question whether the motif of the vengeful queen supports the view of women as defenders of social order in full partnership with men is to grant the case but point out that it also supports the view of male inferiors as such defenders. So that if Candaules' queen and Amestris are demonstrating the evil outcomes of the breakdown of reciprocity between husband and wife, and asserting the rightness of the norm of reciprocity in punishing their husbands, then Harpagus is demonstrating the evil outcomes of the breakdown of reciprocity between the master and the servant, and asserting the rightness of that type of reciprocity. Harpagus certainly sets the social order right in eliminating a king capable of serving up a cooked child to his father.

Yet there are rather grim "messages" about those women who do champion order - if it is indeed the purpose of the story to make moral points rather than illustrate the bleak truths of human experience. Macan notes that the guilty survive unscathed in the story of Xerxes' lust - men and women (Xerxes, Artaynte, Amestris) - whereas the innocent perish (Masistes and his wife).(26) Masistes' wife resists Xerxes' advances and protects her marriage bed, but meets her death at the hands of his queen, who holds her mistakenly responsible for his promiscuous liaison with her daughter. Amestris' mutilation of a woman who had protected her own marriage bed in the interests of Amestris' marriage bed is a grim irony. Herodotus' full description of her cruel death contrasts with his silence on the ultimate fate of the queen, and of Masistes' daughter, who deserts her new husband for Xerxes and then unwittingly secures the destruction of her whole household. Dewald wants to ignore the reactions of Gyges and Xerxes to their queens' proposed actions as indicators of crime, but this is unjustified. She also argues (n. 21) that Amestris tortured the mother because she dared not leave the house intact by merely torturing the daughter, but this goes too far beyond Herodotus. Xerxes indeed is more of a champion of social order here - but his championing leads to disorder. He refrains from violence to Masistes' wife out of respect for his brother, marries off her daughter to his son in the proper way, and honours oath and custom in the favours to Artaynte and Amestris, even though he knows that they will lead to disaster. Men are then not consistent transgressors of custom, nor are women the champions.

This does not completely rule out the rhetoric of otherness for women. The vengeful queen could represent the phenomenon of the inverted masculine woman. The story of the Persian retreat from Mycale, which precedes the story of Xerxes' lust, tells how Masistes told the general Artayntes that he was "inferior to a woman" and should be punished for harming the house of the king. Herodotus says that there is no worse insult among the Persians than this, then tells how Artayntes drew his sword and rushed at Masistes, but how a Greek stopped him, saved Masistes' life, and so earned the gratitude of Xerxes and the province of Cilicia. This prepares the way for the dreadful reversal in which Xerxes will himself kill his brother. It also prepares for another reversal which concerns the mistress Artaynte. Her name echoes that of the general Artayntes who drew his sword on Masistes, and points to a chilling contrast between the male Artayntes, who tried but failed to kill Masistes for his insult, and the female Artaynte, who destroyed her father and his whole household without even trying.(27) The man does prove "inferior to a woman" in this. Xerxes made the point at Salamis too that his men had become women, his women men, but that was a compliment (8.88). This inversion highlights an uncomplimentary otherness.

The tendency to read these stories exclusively in terms of the otherness of women seems unjustified, however. The vengeful queen represents "other" for an audience used to nonactive women, but so does the king who serves up a dismembered child. The stories can also be read in terms of the rhetoric of the otherness of royal barbaric power, in which rulers demonstrate their otherness by coercing and oppressing their subjects to their despotic will. The role of women in the stories is better understood in this broader context, in which Herodotus constructs images of royal barbaric power - where queens are partners of kings, sharing in the "otherness" of barbaric royalty.

The Greeks constructed barbaric royal otherness to affirm their Greekness. Hall has examined the phenomenon in tragedy.(28) Herodotus' ethnographic excursuses also create imagined worlds of degrees of barbarian otherness that focus on marriage, diet, and other areas of anthropological interest.(29) Hartog identifies Herodotus' images of the barbarian king as a study in royal otherness, treating barbarianism and royalty as virtually inseparable concepts, though Greek tyrants like Periander and Peisistratus and some Spartan kings also transgress normal relations with women, castrate noble boys, etc.(30) Their characteristics include promiscuity and lust, pride and oppression, secret operations, violation of nomoi, physical mutilation, etc.(31) They share the excessive hierarchy, luxury, and emotion of the tragic barbarian.(32)

The rhetoric of this otherness operates mainly through inversion and comparison.(33) My own impression is that Herodotus creates the picture of the otherness of royalty inside the stories in question from the point of view of the subject - men like Gyges, Harpagus, and Masistes - as well as from the point of view of the audience, and he thus offers not just an implicit democratic-Greek/monarchic-barbarian polarity, but an explicit barbarian-master/barbarian-subject polarity. The first Median king, Deioces, set out deliberately to be heteroios from his people (1.100). Homer was also more inclined to recognise the otherness of hero/nonhero than of Greek/barbarian.(34) This internal presentation of the two poles produces a true dialectic of otherness inside the text that operates through inversion and comparison of the master/subject polarities. The Greek audience interprets the rhetoric by measuring self against other, but also by seeing otherness at work in the text.

The barbarian queen has previously been seen as a symptom of royal male barbaric otherness, in that queens regularly enjoy excessive power in such kingdoms, but she is potentially the focus of three types of otherness in her own right: as royal, as barbarian, and as female. Dewald suggests that barbaric queens oppose and correct the barbaric royal transgressions of their male counterparts, but this does not seem right. How then does Herodotus' picture of barbaric otherness impact on barbaric royal women?

The construction of the barbarian is not in black or white. Tragic drama places barbarians on either side of the cardinal virtues, excessively foolish, for example, or excessively cunning.(35) Yet the behaviour of the vengeful queen, with its excessive emotion cunningly controlled purely for the purpose of eventually unleashing its terribly physical harm on or through its oppressed subjects, can be readily seen as royal and barbaric, whereas it cannot be seen as exclusively female. The queens also share specific traits of barbarity with their kings. Mutilation is a trait of the barbaric royal male.(36) Amestris' mutilation of the wife of Masistes is similar, as is Pheretime's mutilation of her enemy, and Tomyris' mutilation of the dead Cyrus (1.214). Despotic coercion is a trait of the barbaric royal male. The force used on Gyges by Candaules' queen or by Amestris on Masistes' wife is no different from that of their kings.

Herodotus could be masculinising his vengeful queens according to the rhetoric of gender. He could also be constructing a dual image of royal barbaric otherness. Hall (201-10) faces a similar choice between reading Clytaemnestra as masculine female or barbarian queen, and concludes that her otherness as masculine woman is part of her otherness as royal barbarian. We can say that the masculinity of our queens is at least of a peculiarly barbaric type, and that the masculine female need not necessarily also be barbarian. But Herodotus also seems to be structuring the stories in ways that focus on the otherness of barbaric royalty rather than of the masculine female.

Candaules as a royal barbarian has the otherness of lust and pride, violation and general excess even in praise for his wife ([GREEK TEXT OMITTED]). Her exposure seems to be the equivalent of other physical displays of maltreatment which are the domain of the barbarian.(37) Herodotus highlights the otherness of royalty in relation to the subject when he gives most of his narrative over to the pressure the king puts on his subject Gyges to be a violator of the norms which the subject respects.(38) The king compels his subject specifically because he does not think that he "believes" his praise, where "believe" is also the word for "obey" (1.8.3). Gyges fails to move royalty from its intended course, which is another indication of the difference between subjects and kings - that kings do not respond to rational persuasion.(39)

The queen may be the victim of the king's transgression but is equally an extension of his barbaric denial of the freedom of the subjects, violating the norms in putting pressure on Gyges to kill himself or his master, and being entirely unmoved by his protests. The choice she offers Gyges is a mockery of freedom. Her dolos in hiding him in her bedroom and arming him with a dagger to kill the king is a mirror image of the secret treachery of the king in hiding him there in the first place to see her shame. Her murder matches his exposure and makes her an extension of her royal mate in this respect as well, though she works against him. Gyges resolves his otherness as subject by becoming king, yet the Pythia punishes his descendants for it. Herodotus reveals the power of the woman because it was part of the construction of barbaric royalty, but also because he can show barbaric royalty doubly dangerous, with no escape from the tyranny of either sex.(40)

The story about the despotism of Lydian royalty is a fit introduction to a saga in which they will be the first to subject the Greeks. The story is effective also because it chooses the figure of a bodyguard - part itself of the construct of barbaric royalty and despotism(41) - to feel its excessive power.

The story of Cyrus is also about the otherness of royal barbaric power. Astyages is a barbaric royal in exhibiting such an unnatural lust for power that he tries to kill his kin and then takes fearsome vengeance for disobedience when his orders to kill are disobeyed. The serving of a cooked and dismembered child is a classic act of mutilation, and so is the despotic coercion of Harpagus as subject. Herodotus complicates the otherness in this story, however, by offering different degrees of the master/subject relationship. Harpagus is a subject, but also a relative of the royal household (1.109.3), and not quite free of royal traits himself. He has the barbaric psychology of the vengeful queen; his flattery of Cyrus can be construed as barbaric, particularly his appeal to divine protection (1.123-24); he abuses Astyages in defeat in the very same way as Cleomenes abuses Demaratus (1.129.1-2, 6.67.2-3); but most importantly he mirrors his master's despotic compulsion of inferiors. Astyages and Harpagus indeed both deliver speeches that emphasize the compulsion they put on others to kill the child, and in this they recall the double compulsion put on Gyges by his king and queen. Astyages threatens Harpagus (1.108.6-8), and Harpagus threatens the herdsman Mithradates (1.110.4-5) in a chain of compulsion from the king to his relative/vizier right down to the most humble subject. Astyages later directly threatens the herdsman with torture (1.116.2-8).

The introduction of the herdsman is another important addition to the rhetoric of otherness. Herodotus pairs the herdsman with his wife and spells out their mutual fear of royal power in the form of both Astyages and Harpagus (1.111.2, 112.2). The herdsman and his wife together represent the polarity of royal barbaric otherness, neither royal nor own-relative child-killers, but co-slaves (1.110.1) and nurturers of a child that is not theirs (1.112). Herodotus reflects their otherness in his description of their environment, far removed from the royal centre of power - mountains full of wildlife; north of Ecbatana toward the Euxine Sea; mountainous, high, wooded (1.110.1-3) - and in their matrimonial concern for each other and for the child they have been told to kill (1.111.2-3).(42)

The women in the story reflect these degrees of master/subject otherness. There is no queen, but Harpagus perceives that the deregistered princess would harm him for killing her child if she inherited the tyranny (1.109.4). She is potentially the partner of her barbaric father in that she offers the same threat as the queen of Candaules, from whom Gyges feared such harm. Her attempt to create some divinity for her son with the story of his rescue (1.122.3) also marks her otherness. The wife of Harpagus is a cipher, unmoved by the plight of the royal child (1.109.2). The humble wife of the herdsman is "other" as barbarian, as nonroyal, and only to a lesser extent as woman. Herodotus indicates her barbarian otherness both in the translation of her name as "bitch" and in the animal reference itself.(43) Her otherness from royalty is reflected in the slave status she shares with her husband and in the remote wilderness in which she lives. Her otherness from the men in the story is seen in her desire to nurture the child rather than kill it, something that she has to persuade even her husband to accept, but her desire to nurture makes her "other" to the wife of Harpagus as well, who had no reaction to the child's fate. She is "other" to the deregistered princess in another respect: she does not produce a large and bouncing child as Mandane did, but a dead one (1.112), for she lacks the fecundity of the princess's enormous royal grapevine and rivers of urine. Her environment reflects both her barrenness and her barbarianism - no grapevines and no rivers there, either. She does not have that sexual juice that marks male and female barbaric royalty and exhibits itself in promiscuity, physical beauty, and sexual power. Her otherness as subject is more dominant than her otherness as woman, for she shares more with the men inside her class than with the women outside it (still one of the modern difficulties in women's movements). She works with her husband as part of a team which asserts its difference from royalty in its environment and fear of royalty, its care for each other, and its sexual frailty. Slave barbarians are more humane than royals, less concerned with power than with living. The focus of royal barbaric horror is the royal house and the people in it.

Cyrus is part of the construction of royal barbaric power, building his kingdom by issuing orders to the other boys in his game, and using the same kinds of physical punishments of his comrades in the game as his grandfather did in real life (1.114). This represents another mediation between master and subject, for the master in waiting is only temporarily a slave, but shares the master's nature. He is described as "free." The Magi predict the enslavement of the Medes if Cyrus becomes king, and Astyages confirms this to Harpagus the Mede once his kingship is in place. The Magi are a special part of the construct of the Persian royal barbarian. The Greek audience might side more with the nurturing than the destructive side of humanity in the story, but model behaviour is not the issue. The herdsman and his wife are there to produce a dialectic on the nature of royal barbaric power through their difference. The negative embodiment of Greek ideals is seen in the interactions of masters and slaves rather than in any single figure or group of figures.

The story of Ariston barely recognises male/female otherness but fully recognises master/subject otherness. Ariston and his successors are Spartan kings but share the qualities of barbaric royalty.(44) Ariston is promiscuously interested in beautiful women and sets disaster in train by seeking a third wife, one already married to his comrade. The otherness is expressed in the different attitude of his comrade to the business of wives - that one is usually enough (6.62.2). He cunningly manipulates the offer of favour to the comrade, who is thus reduced to his subject. His sons continue to act like barbaric royals.(45) Cleomenes abuses the deposed Demaratus in the same terms as Harpagus abuses the deposed Astyages (1.129.1-2, 6.67.2); he is a royal barbarian down to the last details of self-mutilation. Demaratus flees to the court of a barbarian royal. The mother of Demaratus has none of the brutal despotic power of barbarian queens, but she shares their beauty and sexual juice, receiving the local hero and her husband both on the same night and producing a very special child with a claim to heroic otherness, like the child of Mandane.

The story of Xerxes reveals the same paired male/female construction of barbaric royalty. Xerxes' promiscuity is matched by his queen's sexual jealousy and desire to eliminate rivals, which is a sign of lustfulness in a woman.(46) The exotic cloak she weaves is a sign of her luxurious orientalism.(47) She restrains her barbaric emotions only to secure their unleashing in the mutilation of her subject. She persists in her request for her victim, a version of that despotism that Gyges failed to move in his masters. King and queen operate as a team in their oppression of male and female subjects, however separately. He does not mutilate the wife of Masistes when she refuses him; Amestris performs this function of barbaric royalty in his stead; he dispatches the husband in military fashion for refusing to accept his gifts and favours. Xerxes is dominated by women, first by the mistress and then by his wife in their respective demands for favour, yet he in turn exercises the same kind of despotic power over his brother Masistes as Candaules' queen did over Gyges. He has the usual emotional inconsistency of the royal barbarian male, generously rewarding the man who saved his brother's life, then killing his brother himself, generously offering his brother his daughter, then brutally withdrawing her and all other favour when opposed. He is extravagant in his huge gifts and rewards, part of the royal barbarian protocol.

Masistes and his wife are the internal comparison/foil to Xerxes and Amestris, matched against the royal team in the rhetoric of otherness. They are represented in speech and narrative as a faithful couple devoid of lust and loyal to each other - unlike the royal team (esp. 9.111). They share this otherness with the herdsman and his wife. Masistes shows the same concern for his wife in rushing home from his appointment with Xerxes as the herdsman's wife does in worrying about his business at court before her own stillbirth (9.113.1). Masistes can be abusive of inferiors (Artayntes, 9.107.2-3), but the couple feel the heel of despotic power together. There is no male/female otherness between them, only a common otherness from Xerxes and Amestris. The construction of the almost noble Masistes and his wife raises again the question of the sympathy of the Greek audience. Are they to sympathise with this barbaric couple?(48) They are meant rather to read the dialectic of power and condemn a system that can produce the outcome of this story. The construction of noble barbarians poses a problem for otherness, but the rhetoric is obliged to work in internal and sometimes localised polarities. Hartog points out that it can create inconsistencies - as it does here.(49)

The mistress Artaynte is an apparent inversion of the normal female role for Greeks, for in an entirely feminine way, without a sword or an army, she destroys her whole household. Her request of the cloak above the army in turn inverts the request of Pheretime, who asked for an army and got a gold spindle, with a remark that armies were not proper gifts for women (4.162). Yet Herodotus may not be constructing Artaynte merely as a piece of male/female otherness. She is equally one of the images in the story of the excesses of royal barbarians, the king's niece, quite as promiscuous as Xerxes in abandoning her new husband. Xerxes' failure to persuade her out of asking for the cloak may reflect on another of her barbaric qualities: she also shares his heightened emotions of pleasure (9.109.1, 109.5).

The characterisation of the queen as an extension of the qualities of the barbaric king could represent a masculinisation of the barbaric woman through the rhetoric of male/female otherness or be part of the rhetoric of master/subject otherness in barbaric society. These stories of common type all describe the otherness of barbaric royalty, yet not all of them give prominence to masculinised women. This suggests that they are focussed on the otherness of royal barbarian power rather than the otherness of gender. Moreover, when the rhetoric operates through comparison of royal and nonroyal pairs of male and female rulers and subjects, and the women in the less royal pairs are as "other" to the royal female as to the royal male, yet not so "other" to their own men, Herodotus does seem more interested in the otherness of master/subject than of male/female. There is indeed a case for saying that the women in the stories are all masculinised to the extent that they share the qualities of their husbands, but this does not make them masculine in any manly sense (Masistes' fidelity and the herdsman's concern for his wife are hardly "macho"), and that reduces the rhetoric of male/female otherness to absurdity. Herodotus associates powerful "macho" females with barbaric kingship,(50) though he shows glimpses of it in Pheretime, barbarised by proximity to barbaric lands. His refusal to study them in his own society confirms that his view of the "macho" woman is barbaric before it is female.

Specific comments in these stories tend to confirm Herodotus' interest in the difference between the king and his subjects rather than the men and women. His remark in the story of Gyges that "the Lydians think it a disgrace even for a man to be seen naked" (1.10.4) does mark the otherness of the Lydians from the Greeks (who believed that the unauthorised stripping of men or women was an infringement of custom, but voluntary male nakedness was seemly enough), but mainly it marks an opposition between king and subject. The comment accentuates the disgrace involved in the exposure of a woman and thereby highlights the difference between the king, who is the author of it, and the subject Gyges, who protests against it. Herodotus also says of the abuse of Artayntes by Masistes that the Persians consider it the worst insult to be called worse than a woman (9.107.2). The Greeks are not the point of otherness, because they would have agreed that to be called worse than a woman was unbearable. The comment does have a bearing on the female otherness of Artaynte, but the immediate point of otherness is that Masistes abused an inferior in the worst possible way. Herodotus' comments that an army is a very Persian gift (9.109.4) and the Feast Day a very Persian custom (9.110.2) also point to the excessive generosity of the barbaric king.

We return to the idea of a programme in the stories. The difficulty in previous interpretations is that they do not consider all other stories of similar type; they ignore variations and the emphasis of the detail in the stories. This includes Wolff's "programme" about the subsequent fate of Xerxes. The story pattern shows that Masistes' unsuccessful usurpation of his master's power is the ultimate end of the story. The other stories end with the successful overthrow of the ruling king. Xerxes' story ends with failure, and there is no precedent for a second chance. Perhaps no deliberate programme was intended. Conventions may be merely the natural language of the storyteller, as well as a deliberate means of searching out and conveying meaning.(51) Herodotus' aural audience might not have cross-referenced relatively short stories which were so widely spread through his text.(52) Gould argues that sequential connexions were more important to the plan of the Histories than analogical relationships.(53) The stories of Xerxes' lust and Cyrus' wisdom at the end of the Histories make good sequential sense(54) - whereas analogical readings have proven as contentious as those of the stories of Xerxes and Candaules.(55)

Yet the stories of Candaules and Astyages and Xerxes do display the otherness of royal barbaric power that threatened the freedom of the Greeks at key points in the narrative. Gyges' Lydians and Cyrus' Persians went on to subject Asiatic Greece. Xerxes' story was a reminder of what the mainlanders escaped. The Greeks might have shuddered at the idea of domination by women, but this was only one oppressive aspect of those political systems. They offered no hope of freedom to their subjects, be they bodyguards, viziers, herdsmen, or relatives, and no prospect of reform.


1 Hartog, Mirror of Herodotus 212-59, explains this language.

2 Dewald, "Women and Culture" 92. Gould (Herodotus 130-32) takes her article as a starting point for his comments on women.

3 Said and Rosselini ("Usages des femmes") establish this.

4 "Short story" is to be understood as in Long, Repetition and Variation.

5 Buxton, "Blindness and Limits" 26.

6 Dewald ("Women and Culture" 95) sees these as expressing anxieties about marriage.

7 Long (Repetition and Variation 126-75) deals with the story of Cyrus; also Cook, Persian Empire 25-27.

8 See Flory, Archaic Smile 23-47, 42 for the quotation. He reads the story of the vengeful queen in the context of the perceived historiographical contrast between Herodotus' account of the Persian view of the origins of the East-West conflict and his story of Candaules' queen. Gould (Herodotus 155) recommends Flory on women.

9 Gould, Herodotus 130.

10 Lateiner, Historical Method of Herodotus 135-40, esp. 135, 139.

11 Wolff, "Das Weib des Masistes."

12 Gould, "Law, Custom and Myth" 38-39.

13 Wolff's "Vol ihnen (Harems-Liebesgeschichten) gibt es im Herodot nur Zwei" ("Das Weib des Masistes" 55) simplifies them too much.

14 Herod and Salome, of course!

15 Stories of the same pattern can be found in myth, e.g., Clytaemnestra's murder of her husband through the agency of the inferior male Aegisthus, on account of an offence to her marriage-bed; also in other historians, e.g., Xen. Hell. 6.4.35-37, the story of how the wife of Jason of Thessaly stirred up her brothers to make them murder her husband in his bed, in one version because of the threat of his taking another wife - the brothers then took the throne.

16 Flory, Archaic Smile 35-36, 43.

17 Flory, Archaic Smile 33, 36, 43.

18 Gould, Herodotus 73-78.

19 Flory, Archaic Smile 32.

20 Flory, Archaic Smile 43.

21 Flory, Archaic Smile 43.

22 Flory, Archaic Smile 36-37.

23 Flory, Archaic Smile 170.

24 Dewald, "Women and Culture" 106.

25 Gould, Herodotus 73-74.

26 Macan, Herodotus 810-12.

27 Waters (Herodotus the Historian 129) sees the difference between the naming of the daughter and the anonymity of the mother as the result of Greek reluctance to name respectable women.

28 Hall (Inventing the Barbarian ix) says that her book might as well be called Inventing the Hellene.

29 Said and Rosselini ("Usages des femmes") emphasise otherness in his treatment of barbarian customs regarding marriage and other areas of life affecting women.

30 Hartog, Mirror of Herodotus 322-39.

31 Hartog, Mirror of Herodotus 330-34.

32 Hall, Inventing the Barbarian 80.

33 Hartog, Mirror of Herodotus 212-59.

34 Hall, Inventing the Barbarian 21-32, esp. 32.

35 Hall, Inventing the Barbarian 121-27.

36 Hartog, Mirror of Herodotus 332-34; Hall, Inventing the Barbarian 158-59.

37 See Hall (Inventing the Barbarian 159) on the threat to the Danaids by the Egyptian herald to strip and brand them.

38 Hall (Inventing the Barbarian 211-23) notes the existence of noble barbarians in Euripides and puts this down to his love of a two-sided debate. Gyges is in effect a noble barbarian, but Herodotus creates him as part of the dialectic between master and subject rather than as part of a debate about the nobility of the barbarian.

39 Hall, Inventing the Barbarian 200.

40 Hall (Inventing the Barbarian 209) notes Aeschylus' reference to the "double tyranny" of the "barbarianised" partnership of Clytaemnestra and Aegisthus.

41 Hall, Inventing the Barbarian 156.

42 Konstan ("Stories" 7-8) rightly calls attention to geographical and other boundaries in this story.

43 Hartog, Mirror of Herodotus 237-48. Hall also sees language as a special indicator of barbarity (e.g., Inventing the Barbarian 76-79).

44 Hall (Inventing the Barbarian 214) notes that Euripides' Andromache sees Spartans in terms of barbaric qualities including treachery, cunning, duplicity, lust, lust for power, lawlessness, self-aggrandizement, and female freedom - in the cause of the Peloponnesian War.

45 Hartog, Mirror of Herodotus 337-39.

46 E. Andr. 215-22 and of course Med. 568.

47 Sancisi-Weerdenburg ("Exit Atossa" 27-30) interprets the robe as a symbol of royal power.

48 Hall (Inventing the Barbarian 211-23) investigates the implications of the noble barbarian in tragedy.

49 Hartog, Mirror of Herodotus 258-59. The inconsistency in Masistes' fidelity is highlighted by the ethnographic comment that Persians generally had many wives and mistresses (1.135). Hall indicates (Mirror of Herodotus 201) that this is probably inaccurate, but the inconsistency remains a result of the simplicities of the dynamics of otherness.

50 Hall, Inventing the Barbarian, esp. 202.

51 Hunter, Past and Process 258-61.

52 Hunter (Past and Process 324-25) reviews the question of literacy and oral presentation in Herodotus.

53 Gould, Herodotus 43-44.

54 The story of the retreat of the main Persian forces from Mycale, which is dominated by the story of the saving of Masistes' life and the gratitude Xerxes showed his saviour, ends with the closure "nothing further than this happened on the way." The mention of the two brothers and their relationship then generates the strange epilogue in which Xerxes murders Masistes himself. Herodotus then turns back to the other strand of the main narrative and follows the Greeks to Sestos. His description of the siege is dominated by the story of the punishment of the Persian governor Artayktes. Herodotus ends with "nothing further than this happened in this year," but then generates another epilogue out of the focus on Artayktes, in which his ancestor Artembares made a proposal to the Persians, which they took to Cyrus, that they should live in a soft land, which Cyrus rejected. The two main strands of the narrative after Mycale therefore generate two epilogues, which by definition share a significant location and in their focus on the first and last of the Persian kings seem to share some common subject matter.

55 There is a tendency to contrast Xerxes' lust and Cyrus' decision not to live in a soft land, but the Persians did not leave their homeland, so that Xerxes did not suffer from that degeneracy. Erbse (Studien zum Verstandnis Herodots 90-91) and Gould (Herodotus 58-59) offer a sample of views.


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Dewald, Carolyn. "Women and Culture in Herodotus' Histories." In Reflections of Women in Antiquity, edited by Helene Foley, 91-125. New York: Gordon & Breach Science, 1981.

Erbse, H. Studien zum Verstandnis Herodots. Berlin: de Gruyter, 1992.

Flory, Stewart. The Archaic Smile of Herodotus. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1987.

Gould, J. P. Herodotus: Historians on Historians. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1989.

-----. "Law, Custom and Myth." JHS 100 (1980) 38-59.

Hall, Edith. Inventing the Barbarian. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

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Author:Gray, Vivienne
Publication:American Journal of Philology
Date:Jun 22, 1995
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