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Figures of Inquiry in Herodotus's Inquiries

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image of Mnemosyne

The picture of inquiry that emerges from a study of the multiple inquirers that Herodotus describes is more varied than the usual picture of the Herodotean inquiry. This paper examines which of Herodotus's characters undertake inquiries and describes some noteworthy methods used in these embedded inquiries: trap interviews, cross-checking of information, written or oral testimonies, external observers, prior validation by the informant, religious procedures, hypothesis, banquets and contests, and last-minute modification of prior conclusions. The inquiry itself sometimes turns into a marvellous achievement. The reader's participation often implies, through the mise en abîme between the reported inquiry and the Herodotean inquiry, that one is oneself, as a man, the object of the inquiry.

Affiliations: 1: Université de Paris-Sorbonne (Paris-IV), 16 rue de la Sorbonne, F-75230 Paris Cedex 05, France


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