The Phoenicians’ Impiety in the Narrative Process of Herodotus’ Work: The Theft of the Statue of Apollo as an Omen of Barbaric Defeat
University of Toulouse II – Le Mirail
Herodotus regularly uses narrative processes in order to explain peace and war. In this framework, religious elements play an important role, especially in the course of the Persian Wars. The plain of Marathon in 490 BCE is one example of this that clearly explains the Persian defeat. The author uses an ethical composition: the defeat is symbolically the fault of the Phoenicians from the Persian fleet who stole a statue of Apollo on the island of Delos, but the Persians, who disturb the balance between men and gods with their act of pride, are also guilty. Herodotus chooses the Phoenicians as narrative mediators of the Persians’ downfall, because they are always present at cultural, moral or physical borders. From the Greeks’ point of view, the Phoenicians stealing the statue of Apollo is an omen of the barbaric defeat in the course of the First Persian War.