Why I’m tweeting Herodotus

by Scott Manning on February 20, 2014

Thermopylae

About a week ago, I started tweeting as I read Herodotus. It started as a trickle, but the past few days have yielded dozens of tweets from this ancient historian. Aside from the usual updates and sarcastic quips, I have tweeted everything I get out of Herodotus. This started as quotes, but now includes summaries and commentary.

Two things inspired my activity. First, Herodotus is just damn good. While he can go on large tangents (e.g., books 1-4!), his storytelling is superb, the events are fascinating, and the speeches are quotable.

Second, I did a search on Twitter for Herodotus and found very little. On a single day (Feb 15), there were 40 mentions of Herodotus on Twitter. These included

  • 12 quotes
  • 10 gibberish tweets, many of which referred to some iPad game called Mystery Manor
  • 6 people recommending a book, or stating that they were reading Herodotus
  • 5 anecdotes
  • 4 mentions of Herodotus in larger discussions
  • 3 links to articles involving Herodotus

Yet the real question is how many of these people are really reading Herodotus. All of the quotes and most of the anecdotes appeared to be nothing more than regurgitated quotes that have cycled through the quote universe. Search “Herodotus” on Twitter and you will see these same quotes every day.

There is nothing wrong with these quotes, but who is actually reading Herodotus and commentating on it?

I found only one person providing something new, but it was part of a larger conversation encouraging someone else to read Herodotus.

Only 30 tweets mentioning Herodotus in a meaningful way? I believe appreciators of the Classical World can do better. That is the reason I started tweeting Herodotus. Yes, it ends up as a stream of consciousness, but who knows what will catch someone else’s eye. The ancient historian offers plenty to consider in the realms of warfare, politics, nationalism, and life.

Here are some examples.

Then I got a little creative and started depicting events from a 24-hour news cycle.

If you are reading Herodotus, then you should tweet your thoughts too.

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