Critics of Herodotus have generally shown an unease in the face of the religious passages of the Histories, a sense that he 'lets himself down' by delving into matters irrelevant to the proper purpose of history. They have tended consequently to latch on to isolated instances of scepticism in an attempt to vindicate Herodotus from imagined charges of obscurantism. Historians of Greek religion, on the other hand, by their concentration on ritual as the central feature of Greek religious experience, have often neglected the value of literary sources as evidence of religious belief; indeed the term belief has become something of a dirty word. In this book, the first full-length study of the subject in English, Dr Harrison not only places Herodotus' religious beliefs at the centre of his conception of history, but - by seeing instances of scepticism and of belief in relation to one another, and by the use of analogy from anthropological literature - also redresses the recent emphasis on the centrality of ritual.
`I have read nothing as interesting and illuminating on Herodotus as Tom Harrison's Divinity and History since François Hartog's Le miroir d'Hérodote (1980)'
Greece & Rome
`A large part of what makes Harrison's book so fascinating is his methodical assembling of the piecemeal evidence ... Harrison's study ... provides a lucid account of Herodotus' place in the context of classical Greek religion and it will accordingly be useful to anyone who takes an interest in the subject.'
`impressive ... This book will chiefly be of relevance for classicists and historians since it presupposes a working familiarity with the Histories, but theologians and students of religion will find much of interest in Harrison's presentation of Herodotus due to the book's unconventional subject ... with easy writing and the occasional well-turned phrase ... the book is a pleasure to read.'
`is fun to read, lively and knowledgeable.'
Edith Hall, TLS
`This is a definitive work on Herodotus and Herodotean religion-balanced, learned, and wise. It should be an exemplar for all future discussions of ancient attitudes toward the divine, and the first chapter should be required reading for all students of Herodotus. It is almost as pleasurable and rewarding to read as Herodotus himself.'
C.M.C. Green, CHOICE
`an outstanding book of erudition indispensable to all scholars interested in Herodotus. Undergraduate students will find it useful as a reference work'
Anthony J.Papalas, HISTORY
`What Harrison uncovers for us in the course of this study, while it may not be reducible to a tidy set of tenets, is a positive discovery and enables us to develop a richer understanding of religious phenomena in Herodotus' Histories.'
The Anglo-Hellenic Review