For all the ostensible detours, then, the first four and a half books of the Histories lay a crucial foundation for the reader’s experience of the war between Persia and Greece. The latter is not the “real” story that Herodotus has to tell, saddled with a ponderous, if amusing, preamble, but, rather, the carefully prepared culmination of a tale that grows organically from the distant origins of Persia’s expansionism to its unimaginable defeat. In the light of this structure, it is increasingly evident that Herodotus’ real subject is not so much the improbable Greek victory as the foreordained Persian defeat. But why foreordained? What, exactly, did the Persian empire do wrong?