Herodotus - Important Figures in History

Herodotus documented all aspects of ancient life. Editorial credit: Free Wind 2014 / Shutterstock.com
Herodotus documented all aspects of ancient life. Editorial credit: Free Wind 2014 / Shutterstock.com

Herodotus was one of the greatest historians of his time. Born to a prominent family around 484 BCE, he had access to the best education unlike most of his peers. His parents, Lyxes and Dyro, and his brother Theodorus lived in the Persian Empire, currently The Republic of Turkey, where the famous poet named Panyassis also lived. Herodotus learned a lot about the ancient literature of Greece and developed a traveling character that took him across the Middle East, Asia Minor, Babylon and Egypt making him gather a lot of knowledge on Geography and history.

In 457 BCE, there was a conflict between his clan and the rulers of that time. This was largely contributed by his wider family’s great knowledge which made them question the leadership style of the rulers of Halicarnassus. This made him go into exile in the Samos Islands and later to Babylon, Greece, and Asia. He eventually came back to his home region and was instrumental in overthrowing the Halicarnassus kingdom hence became a hero in his hometown. He traveled to Athens Greece and participated in the affairs of that city making him win two awards for the most illustrious man and the most prominent statesman Pericles. In 443 BCE, he moved to Thurii in Italy where he did important literary work that will never be forgotten.

Works of Herodotus

As the first intuitive writer, Herodotus wrote an outstanding piece known as the “Inquiry” which has assisted scholars in understanding occurrences of the ancient times. In his early years, he must have heard about the preparations of the Persian Empire to attack Greece and the training of the army under Officer Artemisia of Cariac, forming works for his first books of history. Herodotus main source of information was personal encounters with events, other witnesses, and oral traditions. Other than the Bible writers, he successfully analyzed issues in a consequential format. His work went further into covering what was happening in other kingdoms like the King of Lydia, Asian history, and the Black Sea.

He serialized his books starting with edition one and covered all aspects of life from the economy, geography, military, and anthropology. The research content in book five is on the Lonian Revolution between 499 and 494 BCE while book six is on the Persian defeat by Athenians in 490 BCE in the Marathon region. His last books, which are believed to have been done in his last days, cover the exploration journey as done between 480 BCE and 479 BC by Xerxes. He vividly captures the defeat of Xerxes by the Greeks and the consequences of the war.

In matters of science, he explained the nature of various features and Phenomenon. An example is the flooding of River Nile from melting snow despite the heat in Africa. He also gave an account of huge ants that carried gold to the surface after burrowing the ground. These have been established to be squirrels in gold-rich Desai plateau in Pakistan which actually came out with gold dust from their hibernating tunnels.

Critics of Herodotus' Work

Despite his great success in narrating chronicle of events, some latter authors find fault in some of his literature. This is seen in instances where he relied on other people to get information. The third parties are believed to have distorted the real customs and occurrence of events, especially as seen in book two on the history of Egypt. The language barrier could also be another contributor to the digression. Having no military training background, he was not able to understand and accurately report on warfare operations. Nevertheless, modern philosophers and historians view his work as the only analogy of events and data that makes us understand the ancient world.


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