Who was Herodotus? (Greek Historian)

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Herodotus (c. 484 – c. 425 BCE) is credited for having invented the field of study we know today as “history”.

He was an Ancient Greek historian who came on to the scene around the time of the Persian Wars (499-449 BCE). Herodotus was born into a wealthy, aristocratic family in Halicarnassus (modern-day Bodrum, Turkey), a multicultural Greek city that no longer exists today but was once home to Greeks, Carians, and Persians. Although we have little biographical information on Herodotus, we can conclude that he was well educated as reflected in his later writings.

Herodotus’ most well-known and appreciated for his work The Histories that some scholars consider the founding work of western history (1). Herodotus was the first ancient writer to use a systematic approach and historiographic narrative to his source materials. Histories, divided into nine books, chronicles the rise of the Persians and the Greco-Persian Wars (499-479 BCE) during the fifth century BCE. It is a valuable historical source for historians even even though it presents historians with some archaeological and historical difficulties. The work is also quite colored, as well as highly influenced by some of Herodotus’ views and opinions on various people, customs, and events he mentions within it. 

Herodotus also travelled widely. Where he exactly traveled is not beyond scholarly criticism but it is generally believed that he voyaged through the east Mediterranean, Africa, and Asia Minor. During his travels he wrote down his experiences which he shared with others (the the Battle of Marathon in 490 BCE, for example) before settling down for a while in Thurii, a Greek colony located in Italy. There he continued working on Histories before moving to Athens.

References

1. Arnold, John. 2000. History: A Very Short Introduction. p. 17.

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