Herodotus: A Quiz

It’s been a while since we last talked of Herodotus which is a bad thing. So I was just about to write a new post to add to my Best Stories of Herodotus… and then I got seduced by the idea of doing a quiz instead.

Herodotus, c.484-425 B.C.
How well do you know your Herodotus? Take the quiz to find out! 🙂


The Quiz

1. What is The Histories the history of?
Athens
The Greco-Persian Wars
The Peloponnesian War
Wrong! The history of the Peloponnesian War was written by the Athenian general Thucydides.
Greece and Egypt

2. Why did Herodotus write The Histories?
So that the acts of Greeks and Barbarians should not be forgotten
Correct! He said so in the very first paragraph.
To justify the war
To describe the land and history of Egypt
Wrong! Book II does describe the land and history of Egypt but that’s not the main focus of The Histories.
To praise the democracy of Athens

3. To which ruler did Solon say that no man can be called happy until after his death?
Cyrus
Croesus
Darius
Xerxes
Who on earth was Solon?!
Solon was an Athenian law-giver who after writing his laws absented himself from Athens for ten years, lest he should be forced to repel them.

4. According to Herodotus, who first circumnavigated Africa?
The Greeks
The Persians
The Egyptians
The Phoenicians
Correct! You can find it in IV.42.

5. Who betrayed the Spartans at Thermopylae?
Dioneces
Wrong! Dioneces was a Spartan who is famous because when he was told that the enemy is so numerous that their arrows would blot out the sun, he replied, good, then we can fight in the shade.
Ephialtes
Correct! Local man Ephialtes was the traitor who led the Persians round the Pass of Thermopylae on a secret path. May he never rest in peace!
Hydarnes
Wrong! Hydarnes was the commander of the Persian elite force, the Immortals.
Aristodemus
Wrong! Aristodemus was a Spartan who was left behind before the battle of Thermopylae owing to an illness. When he returned to Sparta, he was considered a coward for having survived. He died a heroic death in the battle of Plataea a year later.

6. Which nomadic nation did the Persians fail to subdue?
The Hungarians
Wrong! The Hungarians didn’t turn up in the neighbourhood till more than a 1000 years after the Persian Empire had fallen.
The Huns
Wrong! The Huns only arrived on the scene about a 1000 years later.
The Scythians
Correct! Herodotus writes about the Scythians and the Persians invading their land in Book IV.
The Tatars
Wrong! The Tatars were the latest comers of the four nomadic nations, not appearing till the 13th century A.D.

7. Who advised Xerxes NOT to fight the Battle of Salamis?
Artemisia, queen of Caria
Themistocles
Wrong! Themistocles was the leader of the Athenians.
The exiled Spartan king, Demaratus
Mardonius, the Persian general

8. How long did it take the Spartan army to march from Sparta to Athens (about 240 km) in 490 B.C.?
Not quite three days
Less than two days
Four days
A week

9. Which of the following stories is NOT from Herodotus?
In India there are giant gold digging ants
Wrong! You can read this story in III.102.
In Egypt women urinate standing up
Wrong! You can find this in II.35.
In Persia neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor the darkness of night stops the couriers
Wrong! The US postal service adapted this motto from Herodotus VIII.98.
The Athenian runner Philippides ran all the way from Marathon to Athens with the news of victory and having delivered the news, he died on the spot
Correct! This story does not originate with Herodotus. It was first told by Lucian of Samosata, centuries later.

Would You Like to Know More?

If you want to know more about Herodotus but haven’t got time to read all 700 or so pages of The Histories just now, you can find most of the answers to the quiz on this very blog in the series The Best Stories of Herodotus. (And what’s not here yet, will be written about in due course!)

The following posts in particular will tell you the stories behind the quiz questions:

About Herodotus the man and his book The Histories, including some of his most outrageous stories:

Short Biography of a Boring Author

The Best Stories of Herodotus (And Why You’re Going to Read Them)

Herodotus and the Persian Wars

About Solon and his famous advice:

Call No Man Happy

About the Battle of Thermopylae:

The Battle of Thermopylae (Part I): Who, Where, How

The Battle of Thermopylae (Part II): The Fight in the Pass

The Battle of Thermopylae (Part III): The Heroes and the Villain

About the advice to Xerxes not to fight at Salamis:

Salamis (According to Herodotus)

About the Scythians and some of the other nomads:

Face to Face with My Ancestors (The Scythians in the British Museum)

You might also like:
⇒ (If you're a blogger) How to write shortcode to create a quizThe Histories of Herodotus on Project Gutenberg

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