• Histories

  • By: Herodotus
  • Narrated by: David Timson
  • Length: 27 hrs and 28 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (935 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In this, the first prose history in European civilization, Herodotus describes the growth of the Persian Empire with force, authority, and style. Perhaps most famously, the book tells the heroic tale of the Greeks' resistance to the vast invading force assembled by Xerxes, king of Persia. Here are not only the great battles - Marathon, Thermopylae, and Salamis - but also penetrating human insight and a powerful sense of epic destiny at work. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

Public Domain (P)2016 Naxos AudioBooks
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about Histories

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Very Entertaining

Any additional comments?

I am a big history fan. However, I hesitated to purchase Herodotus' Histories as I was concerned it might be excessively archaic, difficult to follow, etc. Not so! The narrative is very entertaining, mixing history, anthropology, and myth. The reader is terrific--he seems perfectly suited to the material. I highly recommend this audio book to fans of history, and of the ancient Near East in particular.

151 people found this helpful

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Herodotus + Vandiver = 2 Well-Spent Credits

Late in his life, Churchill was asked which year of that eventful life he would most like to relive. He responded unhesitatingly: 1940. Existential conflicts, where all the chips are on the table and the life or death of a culture hangs in the balance, have that kind of totemic power. It’s why we never tire of reliving that year in books and films. And it’s one of the reasons—perhaps the main reason—why Herodotus’ account of the years 490 and 480-479 BC never seem to gather as much dust as other ancient books.

Granted, the two failed Persian invasions of Greece take up a mere fraction of the Histories (and the final fraction at that.) But everything that goes before is an essential prelude. After all, for Herodotus, the Persian Wars are just the most recent chapter in a conflict that predates even the Trojan War. The setting of the drama is the eastern Mediterranean and western Asia; Herodotus paints a vivid picture of the customs and commerce, conflicts and conquests that shaped that vast region up until the final Greco-Persian showdown. It’s a tremendously entertaining story in and of itself.

Admittedly, there are moments—frequent with me—when you ask questions like, “Were the Persians really named after Perseus?” or “Why doesn’t Herodotus accept the theory that melting snow makes the Nile flood?” Here’s where I can’t recommend Professor Elizabeth Vandiver’s lectures on the Histories too highly. Listening to both recordings in tandem, the lectures become your footnotes (and Cliff’s Notes), giving everything from illuminating details to the broader intellectual milieu in which Herodotus worked and the shape of the book he left us. Plus, she’s a great teacher.

David Timson turns in his usual spectacular performance here, rendering even the more tedious passages—such as the Homeric catalogue of Persian forces—listenable. For over 27 hours, he knows precisely where to place every emphasis and inuendo.

65 people found this helpful

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Bloody Good Read!

The father of historical writing describes the granddaddy of all wars, the Greco-Persian conflicts, in biblically gory detail. This is much too exciting and dreadful to listen to right before going to bed. It's a magnificent tale, not only of wars but of cultures, customs and shocking rituals. Anyone who loves histories will eat this book up, and it's read charmingly too.

56 people found this helpful

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Best of Audible's "The Histories" by Herodotus

Any additional comments?

"The Histories," by ancient Greek historian, Herodotus, is full of myths, folklore, legends, historical facts and tall tales. Herodotus basically traveled around the ancient world asking people questions about their lives and cultures and histories, and then wrote down whatever they told him. Because of this reporting style he is known as both the Father of History and The Father of Lies. Whether he records true tales or tall tales, it is interesting to know what ancient people said and thought about their world.

He covers a lot of ground, figuratively and literally. His writing style flows like the Meander river; full of twists and turns. I've listened to all the versions available on Audible up to 2016, and I feel David Timson's narration is best suited to Herodotus' tangential asides. His conversational style is engaging and enthusiastic. It's nice to hear someone giving the proper excitement for topics like the Battle of Marathon, Persian Culture, Egyptian Culture, Peloponnesian War, Greek-Persian Wars, the Artemesium battle, the Amazons and the Spartans at Thermopylae.

The 9 books are named after the 9 Muses, so here's a breakdown of topics:

Book 1
Lydia, Medes, Persia, Cyrus

Book 2
Egyptian And African History, Customs, Geography

Book 3
Cambyses Conquers Egypt; Cambyses' Death; Smerdis;
Darius; 20 Persian Satrapies

Book 4
Europeans; Darius Fails To Conquer Scythia;
Greek Colonies In Libya (Cyrene, Barca); Persia Invades Libya

Book 5
Persia Conquers Thrace, Paeonians;
Ionian Revolt Under Aristagoras Of Miletus;
Former Athens-Sparta Conflicts;
Athenian Tyrants & Democracy;
Conflict Between Athens And Darius Begins

Book 6
Miletus Conquered & Ionian Revolt Quelled;
Thrace, Athos, Macedonia Fall;
Rivalry Between Spartan Clemenes & Demaratus;
Athens-Aegina Conflict;
Athens & Plataeans Defeat Persia At Marathon Under Miltiades

Book 7
Darius Dies--Xerxes King;
Invasion Of Thrace, Thessalia;
Athens And Sparta Unite;
Shipwrecks Of Persians;
Leonidas' Defeat At Thermopylae

Book 8
Battle At Artemesium;
Attacks On Phocis, Boeotia, Delphi, Plataea, Athens;
Victory At Salamis

Book 9
Greek Victories At Plataea (Mardonius Killed); Greeks Attack Thebes; Victory At Mycale, Siege Of Sestos

218 people found this helpful

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Great hearing all I would probably never have read

As far as I am concerned Herodotus' Histories is the perfect sort of text for an audio book. It's the foundation of so many stories we know and have heard retold many times. It's amazingly rich with cultural detail and gossip from the ancient world. It's just cool to hear humans trying to work through the meaning of myth and lies and the possibility of an objective historical account. But it is long...and, in places, not as absorbing. I was glad to listen to it because I don't think I could have gotten through it reading. And I was very glad to not be in college needing to remember it all for a test! I would highly recommend Elizabeth Vandiver's lectures on Herodotus: The Father of History as a companion. I listened to Vandiver's lectures before I listened to the full text of Herodotus, and that helped me to keep track of the rambling stories and to contextualize Herodotus' work.

21 people found this helpful

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It's like story time with a grandparent.

It's like story time with a grandparent. David Timson delivers an engaging presentation of an accessible translation.

27 people found this helpful

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Best Narrator Ever

David Timson makes this classic a real pleasure to listen to. His voice kept me engaged the whole time. Highly recommend!

36 people found this helpful

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Bronze Age History Brought to Life

I'd read portions of Histories in High School and College and found the reading pretty tough, especially the passages on geography. David Timson performs a magnificent narration of Herodotus' histories of the Greek and Persian empires that keeps the listener's attention. If your only exposure to the Greek/Persian wars has been via the movies like "300", you owe yourself a listen or reading of these works; Herodotus provides a more balanced perspective of the Persian and Greek conflict and cultures.

11 people found this helpful

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A must listen for the history enthusiast!

What a phenomenal experience. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance as well as the narrative portions.

8 people found this helpful

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A Delightful Classic

I always enjoy Herodotus, and David Timson does a truly wonderful job as narrator. Many hours of thought-provoking listening pleasure.

12 people found this helpful

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  • phil
  • 10-20-19

Rawlinson updated

Translation appears to be that of George Rawlinson albeit with all the archaic words updated. Stylistically it reads like a modern text. A free online version of Rawlinson's text can be found at Wikisource. It's very well narrated. There is no Greek left untranslated. For context Elizabeth Vandiver has a superb course on Herodotus.

20 people found this helpful

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  • R. Mcintyre
  • 09-06-16

Beautifully delivered

This was, for me, unexpectedly delightful. I was sad when it ended.

Can't say any more about the author than has already been said, but the reader, David, son of Tim, has a most easy-to-listen voice.

11 people found this helpful

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  • G Douglas Whistler
  • 10-29-16

Excellent

Fascinating text, & very well read. The translation is fresh & engaging, while maintaining the authority of formality. Would recommend, even to those not usually inclined to classical texts.

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  • Nik Jewell
  • 05-13-18

Great reading

When reviewing an audio book version of an ancient classic it is hard to decide what you are assessing: the classic itself, the translation or the performance.

The Histories stands on its own; if you are contemplating listening to this then you know why you have chosen to do so and have a good idea what it is about. Suffice it to say that if you have the slightest interest in the ancient world you then you owe it to yourself to read or listen to it.

Being unable to translate the Greek I am in no position to comment on the quality of the translation. The translator is not specified. As well as listening I also read Tom Holland's translation; the version here seemed no better (or worse).

I can, however, comment on the performance of the reader, which really is quite excellent.

21 people found this helpful

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  • Daveyboy
  • 02-12-17

Storytelling at its finest

I was surprised at how accessible and enjoyable I found Histories. Whilst there is a bit 'begatting' I was happy to let it roll over me until it got to the story again. The narrator is excellent.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Toby
  • 01-06-17

Masterpiece

The irony of how patterns repeat throughout history. What is essentially an Ancient Greek History Textbook, is eloquently delivered so as not to bore the audience with a wooden pitch that might so readily be associated with the reading aloud in a classroom.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Mr M T Pierce
  • 07-02-21

Thoroughly entertaining

The narration is excellent; David Timson is perfect as the voice of Herodotus as he tells the tale of the enmity between the Persians and the Greeks.

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  • Mac user
  • 01-18-21

Brilliant book

This version of the classic is very well read and easy on the ear. Recommended.

2 people found this helpful

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  • karen
  • 09-27-16

great listen

listened to this several times. Recommend it to anyone with a love of ancient history.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Luke Ow
  • 03-18-22

An Odyssey

For any ancient history or Greek culture buff, this text is for you! The narrator is perfectly chosen, his aged tone apposite for the epic quality of the work. Just remember, it's a marathon (pun very much intended) so an hour a day & you would have completed one of the foundational texts in Western history

1 person found this helpful

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  • John Simpson
  • 12-09-19

Listen to Herodotus teach you through time.

If you would like to expand your knowledge of classical Greek history, then the 'Histories' is the place to turn to.

Herodotus covers the origin of the Graeco-Persian conflict of the fifth/sixth centuries BC. You'll recognise famous battles such as Marathon, Thermopylae and Plataea, as well as the names of great figures: Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes and Leonodis, among others.

This translation reads well, and the narration matches the tone, weaving the account in engaging detail. Listening to the Histories is special, considering how close Herodotus was to being a contemporary of these events. We can be thankful that his work has survived two-and-a-half thousand years.

One of the top one-hundred to read in your lifetime.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-23-22

lovely narration

well narrated an excellent voice for this great work and of course an amazing piece of both historical writing and history

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  • Red Skippy
  • 10-12-21

the Greeks had slaves too

interesting that much was made of Greek liberty vs Persian slavery. but the Greeks had slave states too! perhaps the origin of western hypocrisy? intriguing

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  • Cameron Reid
  • 02-14-21

Well worth it

Great narration performance and a riveting story for any fan of history/classics mainly covering the Persian and Greek tales prior to the Peloponnesian war.
Apocryphal tales and legends abound but that's part of the charm.
Story lags in small parts due to the nature of the material, especially when discussing geographical features of Egypt, Persia etc (we now have maps).
This was written 2.5 millenia ago so its a wonder not more of it doesn't translate well.
As mentioned the narrator is top class, and has put his heart and soul into this, or is simply just very very good at his job.
Recommended to buy and stick through till the end, otherwise the Persians may ask you for Earth and Water