December 20: Greek for "Chatty Cathy"



This translation of Herodotus is not bad, but I wish it were better -- chattier. Herodotus seems chatty to me. Today he's talking about Egypt, and it sort of hops from one thing to the other, including doing that talkative-person thing where he brings up a subject in order to say that he's not going to talk about it:

Those of their narrations which I heard with regard to the gods I am not earnest to relate in full, but I shall name them only, because I consider that all men are equally ignorant of these matters...
Note also the fairly laissez-faire attitude of Herodotus towards what the gods might be -- "all men are equally ignorant of these matters." He's a good guest -- willing to give credit where credit is due:
...the priests agreed with one another in saying that the Egyptians were the first of all men on earth to find out the course of the year, having divided the seasons into twelve parts to make up the whole; and this they said they found out from the stars: and they reckon to this extent more wisely than the Hellenes [his own people -- ed.], as it seems to me...
He's not the first person to go visit another people and prefer some of their customs to his own, but he's the first to write about it, and so agreeably, too. As I believe that no people can truly be called civilized until they are willing to steal from other civilizations, I'm all in favor of Herodotus's vibe. (This is one of the reasons I feel America is #1 -- we've hardly had a civilization, so we get to steal from everybody. "Novus Ordo Seclorum," like it says on the dollar bill.)

There's also a lot of boring stuff about the general geography of Egypt -- like watching a vacation slide show. (I realize that reference establishes that I'm about as old as Herodotus.) You know how it is with the chatty -- they're not always the best editors.

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