The Landmark Ancient Histories
A Letter from Robert B. Strassler
Creator of The Landmark Editions and Series Editor

We today are the cultural heirs, one might say the direct intellectual
descendants, of ancient Greece. For better or worse, the concepts and
vocabularies we use in many disciplines—medicine, philosophy,
mathematics, architecture, sculpture, theater, poetry, to name a few—
have all come down to us from ancient Greeks. Men of genius not only
invented these fields but also produced brilliant works in them whose
excellence is still admired and recognized by us today, more than two
millennia later.
The writing of what we call history is one of those disciplines. It
begins for us in the second half of the fifth century
B.C.E., first with the
work of Herodotus (c. 484–425), whose universal concept of history
was in the next generation intentionally refined and focused by
Thucydides (c. 460–401) to a narrative of military and political events.
The works of these two pioneers served as paradigms for other ancient
historians, including Xenophon (c. 430–356) and Arrian  (b. 356,
r. 336–323). Today the works of all four of these historians have been
published in English translations in reader-friendly Landmark
They are needed because our direct line of descent from the ancient
Greek intellectual world does not mean that everything these men
wrote can be easily understood by us today. Although these historians
may have had posterity in mind when they wrote, as some of them
stated, they could hardly have foreseen the immense changes that have
occurred in human life over the last two millennia; nor can we fault
them for this; who among us would have the temerity to predict what
human life will look like just two centuries from now?          
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“All men’s gains are the fruit of venturing.”
                           —Herodotus, The Histories
Copyright © 2010 by Robert B. Strassler
Robert B. Strassler is an unaffiliated
scholar who holds an honorary
Doctorate of Humanities and Letters
from Bard College and is Chairman of
the Aston Magna Foundation for
Music and the Humanities. He lives
in Brookline, Massachusetts.
The Landmark Editions
Talk by Robert B. Strassler on  
Herodotus and Xenophon at
The New
York Society Library
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The Parthenon, Athens
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