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Daniel Sarefield School of Arts and Sciences, Fitchburg State University, Fitchburg, MA, USA

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Abstract

This paper explores the theme of the homecoming (nostos) by examining the homecomings of the Scythians in Book Four of The Histories of Herodotus from two different approaches, the philological and historical. As Herodotus makes clear, for Scythians, such as the famous traveler Anacharsis and the Scythian king Scyles, returning home could be deadly. From the philological approach, which emphasizes the literary nature of the Scythian logos, this pattern of thematic repetitions of denied homecomings serves to emphasize the hostile nature of Scythia for outsiders and thus to increase the tension surrounding the outcome of the larger narrative of Book Four, which describes the disastrous military campaign of the Persian king Darius I in Scythia. However, from the historical approach, which regards the account of Herodotus as a historical source that provides valuable testimony when combined with other sources of evidence, it becomes clear that these stories of impossible homecomings also reflect the conditions at the Greek frontier of the Scythian world and for Scythians like Anacharsis and Scyles who adopted foreign customs, especially Greek religious practices, namely that in this region marked by competition and conflict, including religious conflict, adopting foreign customs meant it was not possible to return home again.

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Editor(s)-in-Chief: Takács, László

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  • Tamás DEZSŐ (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest)
  • Miklós MARÓTH (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Avicenna Institute of Middle Eastern Studies)
  • Gyula MAYER (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Classical Philology Research Group)
  • János NAGYILLÉS (University of Szeged)
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  • Herwig MAEHLER (prof. em.)
  • Attilio MASTROCINQUE (University of Verona)
  • Zsigmond RITOÓK (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, prof. em.)

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Current Contents - Arts and Humanities

2023  
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