The author analyses Herodotus' choice of his sources in order to strike a balance between two recent publications which define Herodotus' text as almost exclusively 'religious' or 'scientific'. The case study is the description of the figure of Cambyses in the third book of the 'Histories'. There are historical grounds for the narrative of Cambyses' infamous deeds in Egypt. The traditional thesis of the deprivation of economic privileges for the Egyptian temples by Cambyses as the only cause of his negative fame in ancient historiography should be rejected. It is likely that at least the first part of Cambyses' reign in Egypt was marked by violent and dramatic changes – which anyway do not include Cambyses' alleged murder of the bull-god Apis. The influence of Hippocratic medicine on Herodotus' depiction of Cambyses' madness should not be overestimated. Although Herodotus is familiar with some ideas and notions shared by contemporary physicians, his narrative of Cambyses' actions is not strongly conditioned by them, and certainly has no connection with the main thesis of the author of the Hippocratic work named 'On the sacred disease'. The sources and opinions collected by Herodotus do not aim at a 'scientific' narrative of a madman's deeds, but rather at a moral vision of the Persian monarchic power.

La "malattia sacra" di Cambise: una diagnosi erodotea?

RENDINA, SIMONE
2014

Abstract

The author analyses Herodotus' choice of his sources in order to strike a balance between two recent publications which define Herodotus' text as almost exclusively 'religious' or 'scientific'. The case study is the description of the figure of Cambyses in the third book of the 'Histories'. There are historical grounds for the narrative of Cambyses' infamous deeds in Egypt. The traditional thesis of the deprivation of economic privileges for the Egyptian temples by Cambyses as the only cause of his negative fame in ancient historiography should be rejected. It is likely that at least the first part of Cambyses' reign in Egypt was marked by violent and dramatic changes – which anyway do not include Cambyses' alleged murder of the bull-god Apis. The influence of Hippocratic medicine on Herodotus' depiction of Cambyses' madness should not be overestimated. Although Herodotus is familiar with some ideas and notions shared by contemporary physicians, his narrative of Cambyses' actions is not strongly conditioned by them, and certainly has no connection with the main thesis of the author of the Hippocratic work named 'On the sacred disease'. The sources and opinions collected by Herodotus do not aim at a 'scientific' narrative of a madman's deeds, but rather at a moral vision of the Persian monarchic power.
Settore L-ANT/02 - Storia Greca
Herodotus, Cambyses, Egypt, Apis, Persia, Corpus Hippocraticum, "On the sacred disease", Madness
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11384/63020
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