Half-breed citizenship

David Silberstein davids at kithrup.com
Sun Jun 29 19:50:19 PDT 2003

On Sun, 29 Jun 2003, Philip Hart wrote:


   "Along through the book I have distributed a few anachronisms and
   unborn historical incidents and such things, so as to help the tale
   over the difficult places. This ideas is not original with me; I
   got it out of Herodotus. Herodotus says, 'Very few things happen at
   the right time, and the rest do not happen at all: the
   conscientious historian will correct these defects.'"
      -- Mark Twain ]


>FWIW, I haven't read Herodotus in over fifteen years, but this
>doesn't sound like him to me.  It does sound very much like Twain,
>and he has a, uhh, history of citing made-up quotes. 

I also liked the follow-up quote:

   What we have said already makes it further clear that a poet's
   object is not to tell what actually happened but what could and
   would happen either probably or inevitably. The difference between
   a historian and a poet is not that one writes in prose and the
   other in verse--indeed the writings of Herodotus could be put into
   verse and yet would still be a kind of history, whether written in
   metre or not.  The real difference is this, that one tells what
   happened and the other what might happen. For this reason poetry is
   something more scientific and serious than history, because poetry
   tends to give general truths while history gives particular facts." 
       -- Aristotle, Poetics 1451a

Now I have the amusing notion of Steve Brust, Mark Twain, Aristotle,
Herodotus & Paarfi of Roundwood all together at the Algonquin round
table and discussing history.  Perhaps while enjoying a meal of good
Hungarian & Greek food.

So, Steve - what would you say to Herodotus?