Herodotus: the Father of History

Topics: History, Greeks, Culture Pages: 3 (1033 words) Published: December 7, 2005
Herodotus: The Father of History
Many students today propose the question, "why do we study history, what does it have to do with us?" This question is not a new idea; in fact, the Greeks didn't concern themselves with true scientific history until after 500 B.C. Up until this point the Greeks focused mainly on myths and legends that explained how to please their many gods. It wasn't until the time of Herodotus that any emphasis was placed on recording a true account of the past. In Herodotus' writings The Histories, he tells us his reasons for recording this history: In this book, the result of my inquiries into history, I hope to do two things: to preserve the memory of the past by putting on record the astonishing achievements both of our own and of the Asiatic peoples; secondly, and more particularly, to show how the two races came into conflict. (Herodotus, 13) These reasons, explaining the importance of history, are still applicable today. Although Herodotus focuses on the Greek conflict with the Persians, his desire to understand human nature and culture, and the study of man's past behavior and conflicts, can be used today to help understand that same human nature that still exists. Herodotus' work is "the oldest surviving major Greek prose, and the first history in Western civilization." (Starr, 147) Herodotus was born at Halicarnassus, a Greek state that was ruled by Persia, located in southwestern Asia Minor. He was thought to have lived from approximately 485 B.C. until approximately 430 B.C., although the exact years are not certain. He was said to have been exiled from his homeland after he started a rebellion during a civil war and lived in several different places throughout his life. Immediately after his departure from his homeland, he stayed in nearby Ionia, but left shortly after to begin his extensive travels. During his life, Herodotus traveled widely; he traveled south to Aswan in Egypt, he went as far east as Babylon, and he went north...
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