Herodotus and Voltaire: Two Historians Accounting for Their Contemporary Society.

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History is much more than just a chronological flow of dates and events; and it is not merely the biography of kings and famous personalities. It is instead the investigation of the past intended in ample sense; and it comprehends the study of culture, thoughts, habits, political institutions and many other aspects of society. This concept was very clear to Herodotus and Voltaire, two historians that, although lived a totally different period and contest, share some affinities in the way in which they write about the past. They both were interested in the cultural history, in the usefulness of history in the comprehension of the present and in the importance of on field research. Notwithstanding, they investigate the days of yore with different purposes; Voltaire with the aim of supporting his political and philosophical point of view; Herodotus just for the sake of an anthropological and ethnographical accounting. Both Herodotus and Voltaire examine the past in order to understand the present issues and dynamics. Nonetheless the reasons that drive them to do so are quite different. The aim of Voltaire is to use the previous experiences of other civilizations so that to understand whether their scenarios can be reproducible in other environments. This is wholly clear in its analysis of the English Parliament, when he looks over the motivations why England was able to establish a bicameral parliament within a kingdom. He is interested in that because of his political and philosophical thoughts; he was in fact a strong adherent of the Enlightenment intellectual movement. He scrutinizes the past background of England, with its previous dominants and cultures and the conclusion to which his survey led to is utterly pessimistic. “The civil wars of France lasted longer, were more cruel, and productive of greater evils, than those of England: but non of these civil wars had a wise and becoming liberty for their object.” The English system shows signs of being...
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