This is a twenty-first-century Herodotus. It is a Herodotus whose tongue is often in his cheek: the conflict between Greeks and Persians began long ago with ‘a bout of competitive princess-rustling’. It is a Herodotus who can speak directly to modern capitalism: the Phoenicians ‘began investing heavily in the long-distance shipping business’, exporting goods ‘to a wide variety of markets’. Arion, the travelling poet, ‘raked in an absolute fortune’. It is a Herodotus who knows the language in which powerful men are described today: Peisistratus the tyrant was attended by a retinue of ‘heavies’. Cyrus is described as ‘eyeballing’ Croesus from his rival camp.
But this is also the Herodotus of a translator who respects the old-fashioned niceties of retoric and prose style.