notes on books 8 and 9.
Have to confess to a little twinge at reaching the end. Looking forward to closing things out. This is a great group and I hope to join all of you again for Thucydides. I have really enjoyed all your input and learned a lot from the experience. Specific notes are attached. In general, I found fascinating:
The ongoing saga about Xerxes watching the troops; how his not being there made the troops fight less before and how the troops were frightened to not do well in front of him. Ultimately this observation gives us the “men have become women, women have become men” quote after Artemisia rams/sinks another Persian ship. The Artemisia saga is a psychological study all of its own.
Another ongoing theme that Xerxes and other Persian leaders violate the boundaries of nature: spanning the Hellespont (making land of the sea) then whipping it in retribution; halving the eldest child of (can’t remember the name) then marching the army through the body; castration of Panionios; and on and on…
I also especially like the way the oracles have evolved. H. mentions (9.33) that Teisamenos misses the point of the Oracle’s remarks (remember Croesus anyone??), while at other times he finds the oracles “plain spoken” and, in the instance, I agree.
Finally, Strassler makes a Freudian slip in one footnote (which I can’t find again now) by noting that the Persians are referring to Thermopylae, which they consider a victory. Well, it was a victory for the Persians.