Information-gathering and the strategic use of culture in Herodotus

Fabule, Deborah Kory (Stellenbosch : University of Stellenbosch, 2011-03)

Thesis (MPhil (Ancient Studies))--University of Stellenbosch, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The main purpose of this thesis is to examine examples of information-gathering and political intelligence in Herodotus' Histories. In Herodotus' account, dialogues, anecdotes, and even inserted authorial commentary describe how leaders obtain politically relevant and timely information about other individuals and nations (intelligence). Herodotus links political decisions, based on gathered information, with his presentation of historical causation. In his multi-themed account, Herodotus provides tales of commissioned information-gathering missions, espionage, secret messages, and even disguises as nations and political leaders attempt to find out about their enemies and their allies. While the various anecdotes of information-gathering may not be historically precise, they may, in fact, infer real goals and problems of ancient Greek intelligence practices. The second purpose of this thesis is to explore Herodotus' use of cultural information within decision-making and statecraft. Herodotus presents nomos (culture or custom) as a compelling force for human behavior and military action. By articulating the importance of cultural information to political and military intelligence, Herodotus' work foreshadows modern intelligence theories and practices. This nomos-aspect of Herodotus' information-gathering anecdotes is especially relevant to current post-modern trend of culturally-based intelligence solutions to western counter-insurgency efforts.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die hoofdoel van hierdie tesis is om voorbeelde van inligtingversameling en politieke intellegensie in Herodotus se Histories te ondersoek. In Herodotus se verslae, dialoë, anekdotes en selfs ingevoegde ouktoriele kommentaar word daar beskryf hoe leiers polities relevante en aktuele inligting oor ander indiwidue en nasies (intellegensie) verkry. Herodotus verbind politieke besluite, gebaseer op ingewinde inligting, met sy voorstelling van historiese kousaliteitsleer. In sy vertellings met meervoudige temas, verskaf Herodotus verhale van opdragte wat gegee is vir inligtingsinwinningsendings, spioenasiewerk, geheime boodskappe en selfs vermommings waarmee nasionale en politieke leiers gepoog het om uit te vind oor hul vyande en bondgenote. Terwyl die verskeie anekdotes van inligtinginwinning moontlik nie histories presies is nie, is hulle dalk in werklikheid afgelei van regte doelstellings en probleme van antieke Griekse intellegensiepraktyke. Die tweede doel van hierdie tesis is om ondersoek in te stel na Herodotus se gebruik van kulturele inligting in besluitneming en regeerkuns. Herodotus stel nomos (kultuur of gebruik) as ‟n dwingende krag vir menslike gedrag en militêre aksie voor. Deur die belangrikheid van kulturele inligting vir politieke en militêre intellegensie te artikuleer, is Herodotus se werk ‟n voorafskaduwing van moderne intellegensie teorieë en praktyke. Hierdie nomos-aspek van Herodotus se inligtingsinwinningsanekdotes is veral relevant vir die huidige post-modernistiese neiging van kultuur-gebaseerde intellegensieoplossings vir westerse teen-insergensie pogings.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/6853
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