Tag Archives: herodotus

Mr. Nature: Flying Snakes

Jambo, everybody, Mr. Nature here. And today we’re off in search of flying snakes.

Once upon a time, people believed that Arabia bred flying snakes which would sometimes migrate to populated areas and become a deadly plague. Herodotus wrote all about it–and was pooh-poohed by later generations.

But in real life, Indonesia is home to the paradise tree snake–a snake which glides through the air from tree to tree. So maybe Herodotus wasn’t as all wet as everybody thought. (Hint: He usually turns out not to be!)

Ah! you say. But what does a flying serpent hunt?

You’re gonna love this.

Flying lizards!

God’s stuff–cooler than we ever would have thought of.


The Sword in the Stone: True Story

See the source image

Marge has asked me to explain how I figured out the story of young King Arthur drawing the sword from the stone, and thus becoming king, was a true story. Here’s my argument:

Herodotus said the nomadic peoples of South Russia, who had no real temples, used to worship their gods by heaping up a pile of stones and thrusting a sword into it. Among these peoples were the Sarmatians.

The Romans stationed Sarmatian cavalry in Britain. When the Romans abandoned Britain in 415 A.D., some of the soldiers chose to stay. The Sarmatian cavalry stayed.

All the old sources portray Arthur as a war-leader who won victories all over Britain. He must have relied on cavalry; foot soldiers couldn’t have reached such widely-separated battlefields in the time allowed. Hence the tradition of Arthur and his mounted knights.

Now imagine a young Christian war-leader, desperate to defend his homeland from invaders, casting his eyes on the Sarmatian cavalry troops, pagans, but also the best and most experienced cavalry in Britain–and seeing them praying to a sword thrust into a pile of stones. What would happen if he walked up and pulled the sword out of the stones, and called on these horse-soldiers to rise up and follow him?

I think they would have either killed him on the spot, or else been swept away by his boldness and become his men.

It could’ve happened that way.

I had this figured out early in the 1980s but hadn’t a clue as to how to publish it, or where. A few more years went by; and then, alas, I discovered that someone else had since come along with the same theory, published it in an academic journal, and left me twiddling my thumbs.


‘Redistributing Poverty’ (2012)

I still find it hard to believe that anyone would ever think the government could “redistribute the wealth.” Government does few things well, and many things badly.

https://leeduigon.com/2012/12/29/redistributing-poverty/


Beware ‘the Narrative’

Image result for lying story teller

Herodotus admired the Persians because they taught their sons two things: to shoot straight, and to tell the truth.

He would not have admired today’s journalists and teachers–nouns that ought to have quotation marks around them, they’re abused so badly.

In both professions (again I resist the urge to add quotation marks), telling the truth has been replaced by something called “the narrative.” The narrative is an overarching story intended to demonstrate or justify the teller’s own opinion, from which some details are shaved off, and others borrowed from elsewhere and glued on, to make them fit the narrative.

Examples of this are mind-numbingly numerous, truly an embarrassment of  poverty. But just to name one, a really big one, perpetrated by New York Times “reporter” Walter Duranty: Josef Stalin and the Communist Party are building a true workers’ paradise in Russia, and eventually the whole world will see how great it is. To make this narrative convincing, Duranty, in his regular reports, left out little details like the purges, the concentration camps, the man-made famine in the Ukraine, the murders–and wound up winning a Pulitzer Prize for his collection of unconscionable lies.

Our nooze media, our schools, and our colleges are packed to bursting with equally untrue narratives, all of them aimed at convincing people that liberalism is a great good and really, truly works wonders, when given half a chance.

So anytime you see or hear a noozie or a teacher or a prof use that term, “the narrative,” you can be 99.99% sure they’re gassing you.


The Father of Tall Tales

I have been reading Herodotus–called by Cicero “the Father of History,” and by other ancient commentators “the Father of Lies.” I don’t know which side to come down on, but one thing’s for sure: Herodotus was definitely the Father of Tall Tales. Davy Crockett was a mere exaggerator, compared to him.

Herodotus’ Histories, written sometime around 450 B.C., is one of the most entertaining books in the world. Boy, could that old man spin yarns! The book is supposed to be about the wars between the Greeks and the Persians, but Herodotus crams it full of stories about anything and everything you could imagine.

Here we find the giant ants of India, as big as foxes, and the flying serpents of Arabia, not to mention griffins that guard huge stores of gold, the first circumnavigation of Africa by a Phoenician sailor–a story which Herodotus himself was unable to believe because it only makes sense if you consider the world to be a globe with an Equator–and a treasury of historical curiosities, from the character and riches of Croesus to the homicidal madness of Cambyses, son of Cyrus the Great. Open the book at random, and on any page you’ll find either an eye-popping marvel or a desperate adventure.

Warning: once you start reading Herodotus, you’ll find it very hard to stop. And I defy you to read it only once. I come back to it again and again, every few years.

If we had a cottage by the bay, and a stretch of rainy winter nights too cold for fishing, my wife and I agree that nothing would suit us better than to have old Herodotus visit for a time and treat us to several dozen hours of his tales.

No fantasy writer who ever lived was able to top Herodotus for flights of the imagination.


The Wacky World of Herodotus

What do you say about a guy whose books are still in print 2,400 years after he wrote them? Who has two nicknames–“the father of History” and “the father of lies”?

Herodotus wrote the history of the wars between Greece and Persia, but people still read him for all the cool stuff he included in his “researches.” What kind of cool stuff? How about: giant ants as big as dogs; gold guarded by griffins; female warriors; how to practice the art of mummification; bedroom politics in the Persian royal court; incredibly barbaric  customs of people you never heard of?

All this and more!

I’ve been re-reading Herodotus lately. The man couldn’t pass up a tall tale. Some of them are even true.

For those who like to read fantasy, the “real world” described herein is not too far removed from the worlds of Narnia or the Arabian Nights. And for those who want to write fantasy–well, you won’t find many better role models than Herodotus.


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