Department Seminar: Jessica Romney, Friday, 16 Mar. @ 2:30 pm, CLE B415

A public lecture hosted by the Department of Greek and Roman Studies at the UVic will be presented by:

Dr. Jessica Romney (GRS Instructor, UVic) will present a lecture entitled: "The Failed Feast: Food, land, and the limits to expansion in Herodotus’ Histories."

Throughout Herodotus’ Histories the Persian Empire steadily moves forward, until one spectacular defeat or another halts its expansion. These defeats all happen on the edges of the oikoumenē, the settled portion of the world: Cyrus at the hands of the Massagetae; Cambyses on his way to the Long-Lived Ethiopians; Darius by the Scythians; and Xerxes in Europe, defeated by the Greeks. In all four cases, the Persian kings do not heed ‘natural’ geographical boundaries as they move from the centre of Asia to cross over into lands not their own.

This paper examines how Herodotus limits the expansion of the Persian empire by imposing cultural boundaries to supplement the geographical ones. By combining cultural and natural boundaries—food customs and geography—Herodotus is thus able to explain the failure of Persian attempts to expand into the peripheries, including the attempt of the Persians to move from their Asiatic centre into the European centre around Greece. Furthermore, the logic explaining the expansion and limits to the Persian Empire has a direct bearing on the political climate in which Herodotus himself lived, namely the expansion of an Athenian empire.

JR DS poster