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Herodotus, c.485-425 B.C.

The Greek historian Herodotus was born at Halicarnarssus, a Greek colony on the coast of Asia Minor around 485 B.C. When the colonies were freed from the Persian yoke, he left his home and traveled in Asia Minor, the Aegean islands, Greece, Macdedonia, Thrace, the coasts of the Black Sea, Persia, Tyre, Egypt, and Cyrene. In 443 B.C., the colony of Thurii was founded by Athens on the Tarentine Gulf, and Herodotus joined it. From Thurii he visited Sicily and Lower Italy. On his travels he collected historical, geographical, ethnological and archeological material for his History which was designed to record not only the wars but the causes of the wars between Greece and the barbarians.

Herodotus admired Athenian democracy. Though he praised Persian bravery, he eulogized Athens and its triumph over autocratic Persian imperialism. He was not as accurate in his reporting of military facts, something which characterized his successor, Thucydides. Nor did Herodotus free himself completely from a belief that the gods still intervened in human affairs.

The fame of Herodotus has endured as the first constructive artist in the field of historical scholarship, as the author of the earliest comprehensive historical work, and as the first writer to imply that the task of the historian is to reconstruct the whole past life of man. 

One modern historian has called Herodotus "the Homer of the Persian Wars," and it was Cicero (106-43 B.C.) who referred to Herodotus as "the father of history."

More Information
Herodotus and Thucydides Through the Lens of Aristotle (Perseus)
Herodotus' Conception of Foreign Languages (Thomas Harrison, University College, London)
Herodotus entry
Herodotus on the Web (Tim Spalding)
The History (MIT); The History (Perseus)
Reading the Rise of Pisistratus: Herodotus (Vivienne Gray, University of Auckland)

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