Collections > Electronic Theses and Dissertations > Religious Transgression and Monarchy in Herodotus’ Histories

This thesis investigates the role of transgressions of a religious nature in Herodotus’ Histories, beginning with a consideration of modern and ancient terminology, Herodotus’ cultural relativism, and the complicated interplay of fate and the gods within human affairs. The examination of episodes involving such transgressions reveals that these acts are particularly associated with individuals wielding power and authority, and that a transgressive relationship with religion is a symptom of monarchy, rather than of ethnicity or culture. I analyze Herodotus’ depiction of several monarchs who commit, or avoid committing, religious transgressions. These figures provide several interpretative options for readers regarding the singular character of Xerxes, and thus contribute to Herodotus’ nuanced presentation of this last Persian king, and his motives for engagement against the Greeks.