“The Wise Adviser”. The Structural and Genetic Analysis of the Narrative Plot in the Histories of Herodotus

  • Iwona Domańska Faculty of Humanities, Catholic University of Lublin
Keywords: Herodotus of Halicarnassus; Histories; plot; structure; narrative; oral composition


The article consists of three parts: the first which illustrates the particular structure of the plot stated in the title, the second which explains the origin of the structure of the plot and the third which summarizes the whole content.

In the first part, after analyzing 26 examples of the plot taken from Herodotus’ Histories, it is possible to sketch the structural pattern of “the wise adviser” plot. It depicts the so-called patterns of history that are executed in the characters and events within the narrative. Moreover, those patterns are characteristic of the Herodotean narrative as such. They can bring to mind the technique of “ring-composition” discerned in the Homeric poems the Iliad and the Odyssey and also in the Histories of Herodotus.

The second part of the article concentrates on the origin of the structure of “the wise adviser” plot. That is, it attempts to give the answer on the question of how and why the plot was moulded the way it was. This problem is explained by the Havelock’s “oral rules” applied to the oral work and composition and also by the Ong’s “memory rules”. On their basis it is allowed to name the Herodotean narrative as the “oral narrative” that meets the expectations of the oral communication in the strict narrative genre.

The third part summarizes the preceding parts and draws some conclusions.


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