Exquisitely hand-bound in full-grain leather, this edition of the first great work of history features an exclusive new introduction by Peter Frankopan and fabulous illustrations by Nick Hayes. Limited to 750 copies, each numbered by hand and signed by the introducer, the illustrator and the translator, this is the ideal Herodotus for the discerning collector.
The limited edition expertly bound in full-grain leather
Gilded page tops embellish the limited edition
Gold-printed endpapers designed by Nick Hayes
The signed and numbered limitation tip
Frontispiece by Nick Hayes and title page printed in two-colours
The frontispiece to Book One
The frontispiece to Book Five
One of two two-colour maps
The cloth-covered slipcase blocked in gold and black foils
Herodotus’ The Histories combines an exhilarating account of the defeat of the mighty Persian empire by a shaky alliance of Greek city-states with entertaining digressions, astonishing facts and scurrilous gossip. It earned Herodotus the epithet ‘the father of history’ from Cicero and 2,500 years after it was written, this foundation work of Western literature remains a cornerstone of every library.
Expertly bound in sumptuous leather by Smith Settle in Yorkshire, Robin Waterfield’s outstanding translation is complemented with evocative illustrations by Nick Hayes, a specially commissioned introduction by historian Peter Frankopan, and editorial material by Carolyn Dewald. Two-colour printing, gilded page tops, and a gold-blocked limitation tip signed by the translator, illustrator and introducer complete this exceptional limited edition of just 750 hand-numbered copies.
Limited to 750 hand-numbered copies Bound in full-grain leather blocked in gold and black foils with a design by Nick Hayes Limitation tip blocked in gold foil signed by Robin Waterfield, Nick Hayes and Peter Frankopan Translated by Robin Waterfield Introduced by Peter Frankopan Editorial material by Carolyn Dewald Frontispiece and nine two-colour illustrations by Nick Hayes Two two-colour maps 824 pages set in Haarlemmer Printed on Abbey Pure paper Woodstock endpapers printed in gold with a design by Nick Hayes Gilded page tops Ribbon marker 11½" x 8" Presented in a cloth-covered slipcase blocked with a design by Nick Hayes Slipcase lining printed with a design by Nick Hayes
The first great work of history
Here are presented the results of the enquiry carried out by Herodotus of Halicarnassus …
The Histories takes its title from the Greek word Herodotus used to describe his own work, historiai – literally ‘investigations’ or ‘enquiry’. His epic account of the Persian Wars is packed with iconic moments: the emperor Xerxes having the sea whipped for insubordination; his army drinking rivers dry as it advances towards Greece; three hundred Spartans fighting to the death at the pass of Thermopylae. But its greatest attraction lies in the author’s fascination with the exotic and his irrepressible urge to digress. The Histories is a treasure-house of tall tales, arcane information and amusing details, as Herodotus describes how the King of Lydia forced a courtier to spy on his naked queen, offers his explanation of why Egyptians don't go bald, speculates about the existence of werewolves or a race of goat-footed men, and tirelessly pursues the origins of things – the earliest language, the first writing, the sources of rivers. In his attempt to document every aspect of the known world, and even to look beyond it, he produced an unrivalled alloy of history, ethnography, biology, travel-writing, myth and literature, and one of the greatest, and most unusual, works of prose to survive from ancient times.
The father of history
Although Herodotus knew fame and celebrity in his own lifetime, biographical details about him are scarce. He was probably born in Halicarnassus, on the western coast of modern-day Turkey, in around 485 BCE at the height of the Persian Wars he would later document. He settled in a Greek colony in southern Italy and lived until around 425 BCE. Ultimately, our impression of him comes from the pages of The Histories: fiercely intelligent and self-confident, curious and opinionated; a hybrid of novelist, academic and adventurer; and above all, a fascinating guide and companion.
In his original Greek text, the very first word of The Histories is Herodotus’ own name. Giving himself such prominence was extremely unusual for an ancient author and a deliberate act on Herodotus' part. He knew that the authority of his writings stemmed directly from his ground-breaking working method – which was to draw on personal observations and the oral testimony he had gathered during his travels to the Black Sea, Egypt, the Near East and within the Greek world.
This is his story, as he constantly reminds us, intervening in his narrative to express doubt, make disclaimers and court controversy. Immediately recognised as a masterwork, The Histories came to be so highly regarded that even critics of its content were unanimous in their praise of Herodotus' skill as a storyteller, whilst amongst his admirers, Cicero named him ‘the father of history’.
I appreciated the darkness of the period - half pagan and half animist - and representing a world with a genuine belief in gods
Each of the nine ‘books’ that make up The Histories opens with a magnificent double–page image produced by printmaker, graphic novelist, environmentalist and ‘professional trespasser’ Nick Hayes. Created using modern digital technology, these atmospheric illustrations simultaneously evoke the muscular figures and geometric designs of ancient Greek decorative pottery, recall the British linocut tradition embodied by Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious, and reflect Hayes’ own love of landscape and the natural world. His integrated illustrative scheme also includes gold-patterned motifs for the endpapers and slipcase lining, powerful black and gold images on the binding and slipcase, and an arresting frontispiece portrait of Herodotus based on an 18th–century sculpture.
For many, Herodotus is not just a great historian, but the first historian.
The specially commissioned, exclusive new introduction by Professor Peter Frankopan gives both biographical details of Herodotus and context for The Histories. He is undoubtedly the ideal intermediary as his understanding of the rise and fall of empires, the connections between regions and cultures, and the fraught interaction of East and West have seen him dubbed ‘a Herodotus of the 21st century’.
What makes this limited edition special
Historians often like to think that they follow in Herodotus' footsteps; but this magnificent volume is not just an inspirational book - it is a thing of beauty too
Let us begin with the sumptuous full-grain leather of the binding, tanned using only vegetable products, aniline-dyed a magnificent teal and meticulously hand-polished by Harmatan and Oakridge in Northamptonshire, the traditional heartland of British leather production. The experts at Smith Settle in Yorkshire undertook the binding and the text was printed not far away in Sheffield. The green of the two-colour printing complements the binding perfectly and the paper is of course FSC certified, sourced only from responsibly managed forests. In addition to the illustrations, binding and slipcase designs, Nick Hayes has coloured the two maps by Kevin Freeman, to make them both more beautiful and more legible, something which Herodotus himself would surely have appreciated, having complained that 'not one of all the people who have drawn maps of the world has set it out sensibly'. And Peter Frankopan’s engaging new introduction is exclusive to this edition.
Herodotus wrote The Histories before the 'rules' of prose-writing had been established, and intended it for live public recitation as much as for private reading. Robin Waterfield's acclaimed translation is widely regarded as the authoritative modern rendering, balancing fluency with fidelity to the original text, capturing Herodotus' distinctive authorial voice while keeping him highly readable, and allowing ancient characters to talk directly to us across the millennia. This engaging text was originally published with an introduction by Professor Carolyn Dewald, and this is included here too along with a judicious selection from her notes and a helpful timeline by Peter O’Neill.
Each copy has been signed by three of our contributors – translator, illustrator and introducer – on a gold-blocked limitation label tipped on by hand facing Nick Hayes fabulous frontispiece portrait of Herodotus, based on an 18th–century sculpture. The resulting volume will be a pleasure to look at and to hold, as well as to read, for many years to come.
About Peter Frankopan
Peter Frankopan is Professor of Global History at Oxford University where he is also Senior Research Fellow at Worcester College Oxford and Stavros Niarchos Foundation Director of the Oxford Centre for Byzantine Research.
Described in The New Statesman as 'the history rock star du jour', he was named one of the world’s 50 top thinkers by Prospect Magazine in 2019 but is probably best known as the author of the prize-winning bestsellers The Silk Roads and The New Silk Roads.
About Nick Hayes
Nick Hayes works as both an author and illustrator and is a well-known right-to-roam campaigner.
About Robin Waterfield
Robin Waterfield is an independent scholar and translator. He studied at Manchester University and Cambridge and lectured in Classics before becoming a writer. Waterfield now lives on a small olive farm in southern Greece where he both writes and produces organic olive oil.
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