Ancient Greece People
Bust of Herodotus
Bust of Herodotus

Herodotus

The most hateful human misfortune is for a wise man to have no influence1.

Herodotus was born in Halicarnassus a Greek city in southwest Asia Minor and lived in the 5th Century. Herodotus was a Greek Historian from Ionia. He is most notably known for his writing of The Histories.

The first six books deals with the growth of the Persian Empire under the rulers of Croesus and later Cyrus the Great .The second book is largely concerned with Egypt and the annexing of it by Cyrus's successor Cambyses. The next four books consist of the expansion of the Persian Empire under Darius, the Ionian revolt and the burning of Sardis. The sixth book details the first Persian attack of Greece and the defeat of the Persians at the battle of Marathon in 490 B.C. The last three books describe Xerxes invasion of Greece and their eventual defeat at Salamis and Plataea in 479 B.C2.

There is not a lot of information about Herodotus and most of our information about him comes from his actual writing itself. It has been debated vigorously by historians that he was born between 500 B.C. and 470 B.C. The reason for this is that in his writing of The Histories he does not actually mention having witnessed the Persian War of 480-479 B.C. The date of his death is also a mystery and has been argued by historians over the years. However, as Thucydides mentions in his book The Peloponnesian Wars (2.67) stating the execution of two Spartan officers in Athens as does Herodotus in Book 7.137 of The Histories it is reasonable to assume that he was alive then. It is believed that Herodotus died in the period of 429-413 B.C. in the plague of Athens which claimed the lives of thousands of Athenians. As Thucydides in 6.93 tells of Deccelea being plundered by Spartans in 413 B.C. something that Herodotus in 9.73 does not mention. Therefore it is fair to assume that he died between 429-413 B.C3.

It is obvious from his writings that he was a seasoned traveller and regularly visited many places and cities. This is evident from his writing where he is describes visiting places such as the Nile(Hdt 2.29.1), Sicily and even interviewing the priests at Babylon(Hdt 1.193.4)It would be fair to say that Herodotus was the first person of his time to actively travel around the world to report his accounts. It is because of this that he has become known as the Father of History.

1 Herodotus The Histories 9.16
2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herodotus
3 http://www.livius.org/he-hg/herodotus/logoi.html
 

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