Herodotus

484–425 BC
Civilization: Greek — Halicarnassus
   Field of Renown:  literature — Historian
Era:  Golden Age

10
BUST OF HERODOTUS
Herodotus is the oldest Greek Historian, and is often called "The Father of History". He was born in Halicarnassus in Asia Minor in about 484 B.C. He is one of the most famous men who lived during the "Golden Age of Athens.", and his book "The Histories", was extremely popular in his own time and at all times since. The most well known parts of his books are the tracts relating to the Persian Wars (490-475 B.C.) and his is the primary source for most of what we know about this period in Greek History. The main battles of the Persian War were over by the time Herodotus starting writing, but the generation that fought the war was still around and Herodotus must have interviewed many eye witnesses. The Histories provide a great deal of information on the history of Persian as well as Greece, since his native city was a Greek colony under Persian Control. He was sympathetic to the full range of human nature so his portraits of characters are often complex and quite humorous. He was a gifted writer with a very inquiring mind, and his manner of mixing great detail, personality, insight, and gossip is still charming to modern readers.

Not much is known about the details of Herodotus’s own life. Much of his early works involved describing the geography, customs, and histories of countries foreign to Greece, and he claims to have traveled extensively doing research for his inquiries. The dates and extent of his travels not well known, but he claims to have visited much of Asia Minor, Egypt, Babylon, the Ukraine, Italy, Sicily, as well as mainland Greece. He resided for a time in Athens, and was well known there, but finally settled in Thurii, a Greek colony in Italy, where he died in 418 B.C.


Key events during the life of Herodotus:


Year
Event
465 BC
(Approx.) Fled to Samos after aiding an attempt to overthrow the ruling family of Halicarnassus.
455 BC
(Approx.) Journeyed to Egypt, Babylon, Ukraine, Italy, Sicily, Sparta and Athens.
445 BC
(Approx.) Lived in Athens for some time. Supported himself by reading from his books at public hearings.
435 BC
(Approx.) Settled done in Thurii, a Greek colony in Italy. Assembled and edited The Histories.
425 BC
(Approx.) Died.

Other Resources


Story Links
Book Links
Herodotus and Xenophon  in  Cyrus the Great  by  Jacob Abbott
Colony  in  Pictures from Greek Life and Story  by  Alfred J. Church
Herodotus—the Traveller  in  A Book of Discovery  by  M. B. Synge
Age of Pericles  in  The Story of the Greek People  by  Eva March Tappan

Book Links
Story of the Persian War  by  Alfred J. Church
Stories of the East From Herodotus  by  Alfred J. Church


Image Links


Herodotus: From a bust in the farnese collection at Naples.
 in Pictures from Greek Life and Story

Herodotus and Thucydides
 in The Story of the Greek People

Herodotus and Thucydides
 in Old World Hero Stories


Contemporary
Short Biography
Pericles Athenian statesman during Golden Age of Athens. Made Athens cultural center of Greece.
Sophocles Wrote Greek Tragedies, including the tragedies of Agamemnon, Electra, and Orestes.