This study is a part of an attempt to analyze the work of Herodotus in terms of performance rather than as a text to be read, and it is based on two assumptions. The first is that the Histories evidently constitutes a performance in the ordinary sense of the word, being composed of sections which individually or in combination were designed to be delivered orally in front of an audience and whose performance has in tum helped to shape the text we now have. I The second assumption concerns the applicability to the Histories of the term "performative" from the point of view of speech-act theory. "Performative" in this sense denotes an utterance that "does" something.? On the one hand we may regard the Histories as a whole, seen from the outside, as performative. By verbal means it performs certain "world-changing" actions: it explicitly confers kleos (saving events of men and wonderful deeds of Greeks and non-Greeks from becoming "evanescent" with time and "unglorious," according to the formulation of the first sentence), and it indirectly warns.> On the other hand, if we look at the
I As Nagy states, Pindar 's Homer 220, the inquiry Herodotus says he is presenting in the proem (t<7tOQL1J~ CvtOO£;L~) , "is not a public oral performance as such, but it is a public demonstration of a performance." For the likelihood that parts of the Histories may have been in the public domain before the publication of the whole and for evidence of oral performances see , most recently, Evans, Herodotus 90, 94-104. On the uses of writing in the fifth century and its relationship with oral modes of communication see Thomas, Oral Tradition 15-34.