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Plutarch’s Moralia

(854)ΠΕΡΙ ΤΗΣ ΗΡΟΔΟΤΟΥ ΚΑΚΟΗΘΕΙΑΣ

1. Πολλοὺς μέν, ὦ Ἀλέξανδρε, τοῦ Ἡροδότου1 καὶ ἡ λέξις ὡς ἀφελὴς καὶ δίχα πόνου καὶ ῥᾳδίως ἐπιτρέχουσα τοῖς πράγμασιν ἐξηπάτηκε· πλείονες δὲ τοῦτο πρὸς τὸ ἦθος αὐτοῦ πεπόνθασιν. οὐ γὰρ Fμόνον, ὥς φησιν ὁ Πλάτων, τῆς ἐσχάτης ἀδικίας μὴ ὄντα δοκεῖν εἶναι δίκαιον, ἀλλὰ καὶ κακοηθείας ἄκρας ἔργον εὐκολίαν μιμούμενον καὶ ἁπλότητα δυσφώρατον2 εἶναι. ∗∗∗3 μάλιστα πρός τε Βοιωτοὺς καὶ Κορινθίους κέχρηται μηδὲ τῶν ἄλλων τινὸς ἀπεσχημένος, οἶμαι προσήκειν ἡμῖν,4 ἀμυνομένοις ὑπὲρ τῶν προγόνων ἅμα καὶ τῆς ἀληθείας, κατ᾿ αὐτὸ5 τοῦτο τῆς γραφῆς τὸ μέρος· ἐπεὶ τά γ᾿ ἄλλα ψεύσματα καὶ πλάσματα βουλομένοις ἐπεξιέναι πολλῶν ἂν βιβλίων δεήσειεν. ἀλλὰ

δεινὸν τὸ τᾶς Πειθοῦς πρόσωπον,

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On the Malice of Herodotus,

On the Malice of Herodotus

1. Many people, my dear Alexander,a have been deceived by the style of Herodotus, which is apparently so simple and effortless, slipping easily from one subject to another; but more people still have suffered a similar delusion with regard to his moral character. Not only is it the height of injustice (as Plato puts it) “to seem just when one is not so,”b but it is an act of supreme malice to put on a false show of good humour and frankness which baffles detection. Andc this is exactly what Herodotus does, flattering some people in the basest possible manner, while he slanders and maligns others. Hitherto no one has dared to expose him as a liar. Since his principal victims are the Boeotians and the Corinthians, though he spares no one, I think it is proper that I should now stand up for the cause of my ancestors and the cause of truth and show how dishonest this part of his work is; it would, of course, take many books if one wanted to describe all his other lies and fabrications. None the less

Persuasion by her glance doth quell us,

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.plutarch-moralia_malice_herodotus.1965