Books 7 and 8 of Herodotus’ Histories treat some of the most consequential events of the Greco-Persian wars, including Xerxes’ initial invasion-plan and the battles of Thermopylae and Salamis. Herodotus here describes the decision-making processes of three key figures: Leonidas, one of the Spartan kings, Themistocles, from democratically ruled Athens, and Xerxes, the leader of the Persian empire. Choose two of these three figures, and compose an essay comparing their motives, decisions, and forms of leadership. Consider how Herodotus portrays the consequences of their decisions, and articulate how, in your view, Herodotus characterizes through your two chosen figures their respective forms of government (Themistocles, direct democracy; Leonidas, a mixed constitution whose membership is based on military service; Xerxes, monarchical empire). For background on Herodotus’ presentation of different forms of government, refer as necessary to the Persian constitutional debate at 3.80-84.
Clearly articulate your thesis (in answer to the prompt above) in your first paragraph. Your essay response should focus strictly upon Herodotus: make specific, supported claims (e.g. “The portrayal of Xerxes’ decision to invade Greece demonstrates how Herodotus understands autocratic rule as X. Specifically, passage Y suggests Z”).
You must provide specific references to the text: include a minimum of six parenthetical citations in your essay in support of your claims. Citations must be relevant and essential to the point you are making. See, below, for citation guidelines. A strong essay will show some independence of thought, both in terms of the evidence selected and your analysis of it. Try to make indirect, nonobvious connections, and go beyond mere logical or surface-level analysis. Be sure that your essay is well organized, with each major claim and discussion of the evidence leading clearly into the next argument.
Your essay should be at least two, but no more than four, FULL, double-spaced pages, composed in MS Word, 12-point, Times New Roman font, with 1-inch margins. At the top of your first page, in a single line, provide your name, the course name (CLAS 1110 MW5), and the assignment (essay 2), as:
Student Name CLAS 1110 MW5 essay 2
Citations should consist of book and chapter number(s) in the Histories. These should be placed in parentheses at the end of a sentence, before a period, such as:
Herodotus claims that two sons of Darius, Xerxes and Artabazanes, disputed the succession of the Persian throne (7.2-3). This dispute demonstrates how…
A reference should be an accurate paraphrase of the passage you cite, BUT NOT a direct quotation. For example: Herodotus claims that two sons of Darius, Xerxes and Artabazanes, disputed the succession of the Persian throne (7.2-3). Again, your essay should have no direct quotations.
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