Monday, August 06, 2007

HERODOTUS | Kapuscinski

Almasy's copy of Herodotus from the film 'The English Patient'

From Ryszard Kapuscinski, in his speech Herodotus and the Art of Noticing:


Herodotus, however, besides being the first reporter, was also the first "globalist." Fully aware of how many cultures there were on Earth, he was eager to become acquainted with all of them. Why? He believed that the best way to learn about your own culture is by familiarizing yourself with others. For your culture will best reveal its depth, value and sense only when you see how it is reflected by other cultures, which can shed the best, most penetrating light on your own, and thereby help you understand it best by yourself.

What did he accomplish with his comparative method of confrontation and reflection? Well, Herodotus taught his countrymen modesty, tempered their self-conceit and hubris, their belief in their superiority and arrogance toward non-Greeks, towards all others. He told them, "You think that the Greeks created gods? No. As a matter of fact, you've appropriated them from the Egyptians. You say your structures are magnificent? Yes, but the Persians have a far better system of communication and transportation."

Thus Herodotus tried by means of his reportage to consolidate the most important message of Greek ethics: restraint, a sense of proportion and moderation.

6 comments:

stefanie said...

Are you reading the Kapuscinski? I have a copy and want to read it but I am not even halfway through Herodotus and thought I should be farther along in that before I pick up the other.

Dark Orpheus said...

I'm getting my toes wet with Kapuscinski. Just read the first few pages, then shutting the book before I go too far.

stefanie said...

Oh, you have more discipline that I do :)

jean pierre said...

i know this has nothing to do with the post but i absolutely love that photo you've posted of the book! its just gorgeous!!

Dark Orpheus said...

Stefanie Actually, not discipline. Just too many books still unfinished. And everytime I want to read "Travelling with Herodotus" - I wonder if I should finish "The Histories" first. I understand your dilemma.

Jean Pierre I loved the look of the book too. It's the copy of Herodotus's The Histories that Ralph Fiennes's character carried around with him in The English Patient. It has the whole feel of a well-thumbed volume, weather-beaten and well-travelled.

It's a book that was loved. I had to use the picture when I did the Herodotus post. :)

jean pierre said...

oh wow! that is too cool!
that is so cool when you have a book that you know is well-thumbed and has been well-loved. you feel like you're connecting with history - with all those people who read it and learned from it...!

wow.

i love the "english patient" - both the film and the book, even though they're so different from each other.