Start Date

25-4-2022 9:00 AM

End Date

25-4-2022 12:00 PM

Disciplines

History | Medieval History

Subjects

Herodotus -- History, Ancient history -- Historiography, Historiography -- Greece, Greece -- History -- Persian Wars (500-449 B.C.)

Abstract

In his book, The Histories, Herodotus of Halicarnassus expertly displayed his inquiries into the cultures and conflicts that transformed the Mediterranean world during the Greco-Persian Wars of the fifth century BCE. By writing his narrative in prose, citing his work, and providing cultural reasoning for past events, Herodotus earned himself the nicknames “father of history” and “father of comparative ethnography,” but his inclusion of fables also labeled him the “father of lies.” A historian named Thucydides eventually refined the historical genre to focus on politics without the inclusion of myths, narrowing the discipline of history for another thousand years. In fixing Herodotus’ mistakes, Thucydides also highlighted them, paving the way for future historians to devalue Herodotus’ writing. Famously, Cicero says “even in Herodotus, the father of Greek history… we find fables scarcely less numerous than those which appear in the works of the poets.” This paper explores whether or not Herodotus is deserving of these titles, ultimately arguing that despite Herodotus’ use of fables, his influence has outlasted his critics.

Rights

© 2022 Frances B. Currie

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Persistent Identifier

https://archives.pdx.edu/ds/psu/37439

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Apr 25th, 9:00 AM Apr 25th, 12:00 PM

Poetry to Prose: The Influence of Herodotus on Written History

In his book, The Histories, Herodotus of Halicarnassus expertly displayed his inquiries into the cultures and conflicts that transformed the Mediterranean world during the Greco-Persian Wars of the fifth century BCE. By writing his narrative in prose, citing his work, and providing cultural reasoning for past events, Herodotus earned himself the nicknames “father of history” and “father of comparative ethnography,” but his inclusion of fables also labeled him the “father of lies.” A historian named Thucydides eventually refined the historical genre to focus on politics without the inclusion of myths, narrowing the discipline of history for another thousand years. In fixing Herodotus’ mistakes, Thucydides also highlighted them, paving the way for future historians to devalue Herodotus’ writing. Famously, Cicero says “even in Herodotus, the father of Greek history… we find fables scarcely less numerous than those which appear in the works of the poets.” This paper explores whether or not Herodotus is deserving of these titles, ultimately arguing that despite Herodotus’ use of fables, his influence has outlasted his critics.