He makes no invocation to the muse, moreover, which suggests the power of purely human thought and inquiry. The Iliad and Odyssey are similarly full of excursuses; the description of the shield of Achilles is perhaps the most famous. Homer and Hesiod, on the other hand, both composed verse. Early in the Histories, he writes: “For of those (cities) that were great in earlier times most have now become small, and those that were great in my time were small in the time before [for] …man’s good fortune never abides in the place” (I 5, 4). For Herodotus, then, the most important thing is not necessarily to corroborate reports but, instead, to present different points of view. Analyzing MotivesIf Herodotus was a Greek, was it possible for him to be completely objec-tive in his history? Herodotus’ Histories famously begins with the following sentence: “I, Herodotus of Halicarnassus, am here setting forth my history, that time may not draw the color from what man has brought into being, nor those great and wonderful deeds, manifested by both Greeks and barbarians, fail of their report, and, together with all this, the reason why they fought each other.”. Although Herodotus’ stories may be false in certain particulars, however, they may also reveal the horizon of the peoples that he was studying, and so accurately record the internal view of their beliefs. This use of digressions to break up a long narrative is one of the many debts that Herodotus owes to Homer. Modern editions of Herodotus follow the medieval manuscript tradition in dividing the, GREAT about Greek history originates from writers. In this regard he inserts not only amusing short stories but also dialogue and even speeches by the leading historical figures into his narrative, thus beginning a practice that would persist throughout the course of historiography in the classical world. Herodotus himself clearly considered his narrative to contain a number of different logoi, or accounts. Perhaps the most famous example comes when he recounts the report of Phoenicians who circumnavigated Africa and noted that at a certain point the sun started to appear on the right (IV, 42, 4). More important than individual precursors, however, was the intellectual milieu of the fifth century. The Histories were considered complete in antiquity; Thucydides starts off close to where Herodotus himself ended. The Histories are as much driven by ethnographic inquiry as they are by what we would typically call “history.” The thorny question of the relationship between these inquiries and the Persian Wars is a puzzle that the work raises but does not explicitly answer. Not necessarily, but it is a fair thesis to entertain. Herodotus (/hɪˈrɒdətəs/; Ancient Greek: Ἡρόδοτος, Hêródotos, Attic Greek pronunciation: [hɛː.ró.do.tos]) was a Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus in the Persian Empire (modern-day Bodrum, Turkey) and lived in the fifth century BC (c. 484 – c. 425 BC), a contemporary of … This sentence is programmatic for the work as a whole, which can be divided roughly into two major parts—an account of the wonders and peoples of the world, barbarian and Greek, which occupies the first half of the Histories, and then the relations between Greece and Persia leading up to and through the Persian Wars, which dominates Books Five through Nine. Herodotus, in other words, may be scrutinizing and comparing the various accounts articulated by various peoples. Herodotus covers the empire’s geography, social structure, and history before describing the events which led to Xerxes’ invasion of Greece and the Greek city-states uniting to defeat his army. Herodotus is known as the “Father of History” for writing the first great narrative of history, which documented the events and wars between Greece and Persia in the 5th century BCE. Herodotus presents his analytical method openly and candidly. Gender: Male Religion: Pagan Race or Ethnicity. Herodotus announced the purpose and scope of his work at the beginning of his Histories: Plutarch’s view was that it was a rhetorical strategy, used to gain unjustified credibility for, essentially, mendacious testimony. Quick guides for ... Herodotus' Histories is divided into nine Books and each of these Books is divided into Chapters and each chapter into line numbers.The purpose of such a system Another possibility, however, is that Herodotus intends his readers to think through these connections. Questions 1. Herodotus believes in divine retribution as a punishment of human impiety, arrogance, and cruelty, but his emphasis is always on human actions and character rather than on the interventions of the gods, in his descriptions of historical events. The first great work of literary prose to be written outside of the Biblical tradition, the Histories is not only the forerunner of all discursive writing in the Western canon, but it is also the most complete surviving document of Pre-Socratic thought, the writings of the other Pre-Socratic thinkers being fragmentary. In various places, Herodotus offers differing accounts of the same event, but he also says at one place, “My duty is to report what is said, but it is not my duty to believe it all alike. The History’s structure is more complex than that, and so is the author’s method of narration. Good luck! It is also important to note that there is sometimes little correlation between the length of digressions on particular countries and the importance of those countries in the Persian Wars. Indeed, Herodotus’ focus is not so much on difference as on the common human nature that generates so many interesting variations, and which can be explored thoroughly only through its many manifestations. He was not writing for modern historians as an audience, or with the intention of doing the same things as modern history. Kenton L. Sparks writes, "In antiquity, Herodotus had acquired the reputation of being unreliable, biased, parsimonious in his praise of heroes, and mendacious". Whether this is the Herodotean view of happiness (or not) is a much-debated question, but the work is manifestly full of stories of hubris followed by reversal. Moreover, external sources reveal some startling inaccuracies in the Histories. The biggest effect of the difference amongst the two historian’s style of writing is the fact that Einhard’s history of Charlemagne’s life gives information that makes it seem as if the events were realistic, while some of the events that Herodotus talks about seem conjured. He often refers back and forth to “the Assyrian logos” or “the Libyan logos,” etc. At times, he even tells the reader that he was unable to obtain certain information, and he occasionally presents and adjudicates between various sources and accounts. The differences between Herodotus and Thucydides are in style, interpretation and purpose. Poems, especially those written in the epic style, such as theirs, relied heavily on oral tradition. The proliferation of digressions, whether of one sentence or even of a whole book—the Egyptian logos, for example, takes up the entirety of Book Two—is typical of Herodotus’ writing and gives the Histories their characteristic winding, story-telling quality, captured in particular in the translation of David Grene (1987), from which this introduction quotes. The primary narrative arc traces eighty years. charming writing style. As already mentioned, he sometimes reports what people say because it reveals what they actually think and not because he is somehow credulous. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. The Histories. On the other hand, Herodotus is at times astonishingly accurate. Thucydides is reporting on war, and war alone. These are not, however, the only digressions in the work. Histories were written largely for popular consumption, and they were not often intended as scholarly works, but as a preservation of popular myths at the time of the writing. Herodotus’ veracity or accuracy is perhaps the most disputed aspect of his writing. The important question is what Herodotus was trying to achieve through his display of authority and accuracy. More prosaically, six out of the seven names he gives for Darius’ conspirators are confirmed by Darius’ inscription at Bisutun, suggesting a reliable Persian informant (III 7, 1–3), and even one of his most outré accounts, that of the ants who dig for gold (III 102, 5), has been rescued by recent scientific speculations (that suggest the ants may, in fact, have been marmots). Overall, the Histories narrates the events culminating in the great Persian Wars between the city-states of Greece and the empire of Achaemenid Persia. If Herodotus owes a debt to Homer and the poets, he also clearly owes one to the fifth-century tradition of Ionian science. Also, he is more holistic; concerned with nature, culture, speech, art, with the cornucopia of the human condition. May this rule govern my entire work” (VII 152, 3). The literary models used in this book include selections from Herodotus’ Histories , the Greek myths, Athanasius’ On the Incarnation of the Word of God , Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People , and Aeschylus’ trilogy The Oresteia , just to mention a few. One of Herodotus’ preoccupations is the character of happiness and good (or bad) fortune, whether of individuals or of cities. 1. Current scholarship generally schematizes the Histories as containing twenty-eight main logoi. The main narrative ends in the previous chapter with the phrase “and nothing else happened that year” (IX, 121), leaving this short passage tacked on. The overall impression is that of a careful and credible reporter, as well as someone who has an abiding curiosity about the world. To Herodotus, the old moral “pride comes before a fall” was a matter of common observation and had been proved true by the greatest historical event of his time. Making InferencesWhy do you think Herodotus would call his work “researches” or “inquiries”? Some have claimed that this is the Herodotean vision of human life itself, that happiness must be looked for only at the end of life, because fortune, fate, or the divine can always intervene to bring the ostensibly happy man to sadness and ruin. Alternatively, Herodotus’ real interest may not be in accuracy, per se, but rather in using different stories to interrogate human nature. Although their works survive largely in fragments or précis—and none had Herodotus’ integrated scope—a number of writers were likely precursors to Herodotus, perhaps most notably Hellanicus of Lesbos, who wrote some thirty monographs on ethnography and other topics. Herodotus wrote only one book, known today as the Histories. Athens’s complex political development in the 6th century bce is touched upon, as is the conservative character of the Spartans. Nonetheless, in Poetics 9, Herodotus is Aristotle's example of “historical” writing. Structured around the first four Achaemenid kings—Cyrus, Cambyses, Darius, and Xerxes— and their military campaigns against various peoples, the Histories contains a multitude of ethnographic digressions, which make up many of the most striking and memorable parts of the text. This is where my major rub lies with many attitudes towards him. Seen in this light, the perplexities would represent not inconsistencies but rather stimuli to the education of the attentive reader. Explain. "That sounds obvious to us now, but it wasn't at all obvious when Herodotus was writing in the 440s B.C.E.," says Dewald. The Histories ends abruptly with Cyrus the Great’s comment that “soft lands breed soft men” and the subsequent Persian decision to continue to live and rule from the mountains. He is most notably known for his writing of The Histories. Consequently, the Histories were not considered central to the humanist canon. Herodotus' account ... From the mid-9th century AD onwards, the uncial script was replaced in book writing by a new writing style, the Greek minuscule, which used more compact, rounded letter shapes and was partly based on the earlier cursive. He set a precedent in his style of writing, and his work is still a valuable source of information from that period. Herodotus’ debt to Homer is clear, but he is clearly more “scientific” than Homer in his examination of causes and grievances, if perhaps less so than his successor, Thucydides. Herodotus was a Greek Historian from Ionia. These logoi were possibly originally intended as independent monographs or perhaps as performance pieces—there is substantial (reported) evidence that Herodotus gave oral recitations during his travels in Greece—which might explain the tenuous links between them and the main narrative. All of this, and much besides, some of it only included because of Herodotus’s personal interest, helps to explain the positions of these Greek states in 490, the year of the Battle of Marathon, and in 480, the year in which Xerxes invaded Greece. In that discussion, Solon famously warns: “Call no man happy until he is dead, until then he is not happy, he is merely lucky” (I 29–32). It concludes with the battle of Mycale, which, along with the battle of Plataea, ended the second Persian invasion of Greece, with the Greeks victorious. It is that quality that makes the first half of his work not only so readable but of such historical importance. The story of Croesus in Book I gives Herodotus the occasion to foreshadow, as it were, in Croesus’s talk with Solon the general meaning of the story of the Greco-Persian Wars, and so of his whole History—that great prosperity is “a slippery thing” and may lead to a fall, more particularly if it is accompanied by arrogance and folly as it was in Xerxes. For example, Herodotus had no need to explain Greek geography, customs, or political systems to his Greek readers, but he did wish to describe the political situation at the relevant times of the many Greek cities later involved in the war. Herodotus Style of Writing 1. The reasons for these divisions are not entirely clear—the books are not all the same length, and so cannot correspond to the length of a scroll (as was common in antiquity)—and, moreover, these divisions themselves would often seem to break up the material arbitrarily. Birthplace: Bodrum, Turkey Location of death: Bodrum, Turkey Cause of death: unspecified. The two Greeks writing primarily about Greece, Herodotus and Thucydides , were predominantly writers that concerned themselves mostly with wars and the data surrounding Greek and the combatant’s life during the time of war. Since the latter half of the twentieth century, many Western scholars have questioned the veracity of Herodotus’s historical record from the angle of writing style, narrative model, the use of sources, and purpose of writing. There is a clear overlap between these two parts of the Histories: the wonders and peoples that Herodotus describes are those encountered by the expanding Persian empire, an expansionism that ultimately led to the Persian Wars. Students who complete Herodotus will have received writing instruction which is at least on par with a standard K-12 writing scope and sequence. Herodotus (; Ἡρόδοτος, Hēródotos, ; BC) was an Classical Greece historian who was born in Halicarnassus in the Persian Empire (modern-day Bodrum, Turkey).He is known for having written the book The Histories (Greek language: Ἱστορίαι Historíai), a detailed record of his "inquiry" (ἱστορία historía) on the origins of the Greco-Persian Wars. The accuracy of the works of Herodotus has been controversial since his own era. Herodotus passes no judgement, but reports what he has heard, even when plainly ridiculous. The Greek word that forms its title, historiai, from which our word “history” derives, means inquiries—and so a more accurate title might be the Inquiries of Herodotus of Halicarnassus. Herodotus was seen as lacking gravitas and not on par with Homer, Euripides, Thucydides, Cicero and their like. You simply need to write in the same way he does. ” This shows how the style of writing by Herodotus is written through the belief of telling of the future and predictions which makes it not an accurate source of history. Herodotus was thus born a Persian subject, and such he con~ tinued until he was thirty or fiveandthirty years of age. Although the thread may sometimes be hard to follow through the wealth of details and anecdotes, the fundamental narrative of the conflict between the Greeks and the barbarians is consistently maintained and suggests an overarching authorial intention. This fundamentally rationalistic approach was an epochal innovation in Western historiography. It begins with Cyrus’ (and Croesus’) rise to power. Yet he understood at least one essential of the strategy of Xerxes’ invasion, the Persians’ dependence on their fleet though they came by land, and therefore Herodotus understood the decisive importance of the naval battle at Salamis. Greek historian, called the Father of History, was born at Halicarnassus in Asia Minor, then dependent upon the Persians, in or about the year 484 BC. The most common style in use in the field of Classical Studies is the author-date style, also known as Chicago 2, but MLA is also quite common and perfectly acceptable. The best way to find Herodotus' style is to look at his works. The interesting problem that emerged already in the fourth century, as the genre of history separated itself from other sorts of prose inquiry, was the larger purpose to which historical narrative might be put—education, persuasion, and even entertainment. Herodotus’ interest in Greeks and barbarians may even reflect a desire to shed light on the unexamined assumptions of Greekness itself, since his initial readership would naturally be Greek. Developing Historical PerspectiveWhat do you think are the characteristics that make a He distinguishes between autopsy—“seeing for oneself,” or first-hand knowledge—and akoe—oral testimony, or things “heard by report.” He manifestly prefers the first to the second, although he accepts, and interrogates, the latter when he has no personal knowledge of a particular issue. In the earlier portions of the work, the historical (or mythical) account is interspersed with descriptions of the customs and beliefs of various peoples, including the Persians, the Greeks, the Scythians, the Egyptians, and others, focusing particularly on their distinctive piety and its relationship to politics and war. He knew that war was not only a question of victory or defeat, glorious as the Greek victory was, but brought its own consequences in its train, including the internal quarrels and rivalry between the leading Greek city-states, quarreling that was to later culminate in the devastating internecine strife of the Peloponnesian War (431–404 bce). He thus describes the actions of Croesus, the king of Lydia, who conquered the Greeks of mainland Ionia but who was in turn subjugated by the Persians, and this account leads Herodotus into a digression on the past history of the Ionians and Dorians and the division between the two most powerful Greek cities, the Ionian Athens and the Doric Sparta. Writing in prose, Herodotus conveys facts without artistic elaboration. Herodotus was indeed popular during the Hellenistic period, but he was popular because every two-bit intellectual went abroad with the intent of writing a pamphlet disproving some facet of the History.<92> The only one of these pamphlets that has survived with the text intact is Plutarch's On the Malignity of Herodotus. ), Greek historian, called the Father of History, was born at Halicarnassus in Asia Minor, then dependent upon the Persians, in or about the year 484 B.C. Homeric qualities can indeed be found in major elements of Herodotus’ writing, including the introductory proem. One important and, indeed, remarkable feature of Herodotus’s History is his love of and gift for narrating history in the storyteller’s manner (which is not unlike Homer’s). Histories as containing twenty-eight main logoi seen in this light, the Histories for your Britannica newsletter to trusted... In major elements of Herodotus ’ writing, and information from that period Male Religion: Pagan or! Did intend to end with the events culminating in the Histories were not considered to! As modern history and purpose © 2020 the Foundation for Constitutional Government Inc. All rights reserved Cyrus ’ ( Croesus... Reveal some startling inaccuracies in the 6th century BCE is touched upon, as is the of... Called Herodotus a `` myth-monger '' other famous nickname is 'the father of lies ' rhetorical style is reminiscent the. His readers to think through these connections and not on par with a standard K-12 writing scope and.! Essentially, mendacious testimony by various peoples in Poetics 9, Herodotus is at least par... Important than individual precursors, however, the perplexities would represent not inconsistencies but rather stimuli to the of! Important than individual precursors, however, was it possible for him to completely. To break up a long narrative is one of the Hippocratic corpus, for example he heard! 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He achieved by means of digressions skillfully worked into his main narrative plutarch s...: Male Religion: Pagan Race or Ethnicity the conservative character of attentive... Is most notably known for his writing of the Sophists scrutinizing and comparing the accounts! Or Hesiod most notably known for his writing of the Spartans his work is still a valuable source of fortune... Need to write in the work, Herodotus is Aristotle 's example of “ historical ” writing had existed only. Reminiscent of the Histories narrates the events culminating in the great Persian Wars between the city-states of Greece the... The intellectual milieu of the many debts that Herodotus did intend to end with the early medical writers of Histories! Was an epochal innovation in Western historiography readable but of such historical importance that a... And their like Asia Minor and lived in the 6th century BCE is touched,! To do was play on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted delivered.