Herodotus - Father of History

Herodotus - Father of History - Herodotus: Father of...

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Herodotus: Father of History? For the first time with Herodotus’ Histories we get a work that attempts to be a legitimate history, straying from oral tradition and epic poetry, such as Homer’s Iliad which is based on the historical event of the Trojan war, yet it is significantly influenced by myth. Herodotus therefore had no previous written histories to refer to or model his history after, thus he is considered to be the “Father of History.” For his time he was very progressive in attempting to compile all of the stories of an oral tradition into a researched history, dependent upon personal firsthand accounts and carefully investigated oral histories. That being said, the Histories do not quite fall within the range of what today is expected of a written history, which makes people question if Herodotus deserves his given title. Since Herodotus is the first to break from this oral tradition, there still are traces of mythical accounts along with religious explanation of events, both of which take away from the perceived accuracy of the Histories . Nonetheless, Herodotus deserves to be remembered as the “father of history” for he broke away from Greek oral tradition and epic poetry striving to write an accurate history, therefore his Histories were progressive for his time becoming a foundation for the genre of history. Herodotus’ Histories are very progressive in broadening the scope of history for they do not just focus on one city, one man or even just the history of Greece, but also include that of its foe—the Persians.
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Like Homer does in the Iliad , Herodotus also tries to fairly portray Greece’s opponent. Homer describes the Greek hero Achilles as “swift- footed” and “shining” ( Il. 441), while at the same time he refers to his opponent, Hektor, as “brilliant” ( Il. 441), showing Homer’s evenhandedness in his description of the rivals. Herodotus’ attempt to also be unbiased like Homer in his representation of the Persians, who are the Greek’s enemy in the Histories , is vital in demonstrating his task as being a historian rather than a storyteller. This evenhanded portrayal of the Persians is also similar to Aeschylus’ The Persians , though Aeschylus sympathizes more so than Herodotus does since Herodotus is writing a history while Aeschylus’ work is a drama. On
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This note was uploaded on 07/03/2008 for the course HIST 96W taught by Professor Rockwell during the Spring '07 term at UCLA.

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Herodotus - Father of History - Herodotus: Father of...

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