Polycrates, Croesus, Xerxes | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 52, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0165-8204
  • E-ISSN: 2667-1573



The present article is a response to the essay by Irene de Jong in this issue of Lampas. Its main contention is that De Jong misrepresents the motives at work in Herodotus’ representation of Croesus, Xerxes and, especially, the return of Polycrates’ ring. Focusing entirely on the divine aspect of causation (the ‘jealousy of the gods’), De Jong leaves out of consideration altogether the second part of what Lesky called doppelte Motivation: the psychological aspect. I aim to show that in so doing De Jong creates an incomplete picture of causation in Herodotus, especially with regard to the three iconic characters mentioned. The most important element of Herodotus’ monarchs is their ineluctable adherence to power and greatness, which dictates their outlook on life and forces their hand, even when they (like Xerxes and Polycrates) do possess an intellectual grasp of the realities concerned. The working of this powerful force is signalled by the mention of emotions like anger, fear and pleasure.


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