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A Roman copy (2nd century AD) of a Greek bust of Herodotus from the first half of the 4th century BC
Native name Ἡρόδοτος
Born c. 484 BC
Halicarnassus, Caria, Asia Minor
Died c. 425 BC (aged approximately 60)
Thurii, Calabria or Pella, Macedon
Ethnicity Greek
Occupation Historian
Notable work(s) The Histories
  • Lyxes (father)
  • Dryotus (mother)
  • Theodorus (brother)
  • Panyassis (uncle or cousin)

Herodotus (; Ancient Greek: Ἡρόδοτος Hēródotos [hɛːródotos]) was a Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria (modern-day Bodrum, Turkey) and lived in the fifth century BC (c. 484–425 BC). Widely referred to as "The Father of History" (first conferred by Cicero), he was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically and critically, and then to arrange them into a historiographic narrative.[1] The Histories—his masterpiece and the only work he is known to have produced—is a record of his "inquiry" (or ἱστορία historía, a word that passed into Latin and acquired its modern meaning of "history"), being an investigation of the origins of the Greco-Persian Wars and including a wealth of geographical and ethnographical information. Although some of his stories were fanciful and others possibly inaccurate, he claimed he was reporting only what had been told to him. Little is known of his personal history.


  • Place in history 1
  • Life 2
  • Reliability 3
  • Herodotus and myth 4
  • See also 5
  • Notes 6
  • Translations 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

Place in history

Herodotus announced the size and scope of his work at the beginning of his Researches or Histories:

His record of the achievements of others was an achievement in itself, though the extent of it has been debated. His place in history and his significance may be understood according to the traditions within which he worked. His work is the earliest Greek prose to have survived intact. However, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, a literary critic of Augustan Rome, listed seven predecessors of Herodotus, describing their works as simple, unadorned accounts of their own and other cities and people, Greek or foreign, including popular legends, sometimes melodramatic and naive, often charming—all traits that can be found in the work of Herodotus himself.[4] Modern historians regard the chronology as uncertain. According to the ancient account, these predecessors included Dionysius of Miletus, Charon of Lampsacus, Hellanicus of Lesbos, Xanthus of Lydia and, the best attested of them all, Hecataeus of Miletus. Of these only fragments of Hecataeus's work survive (and the authenticity of these is debatable)[5] yet they allow us glimpses into the kind of tradition within which Herodotus wrote his own Histories, as in the introduction to Hecataeus's work, Genealogies:

Fragment from the Histories VIII on Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2099, early 2nd century AD

This points forward to the 'folksy' yet 'international' outlook typical of Herodotus. Yet, one modern scholar has described the work of Hecataeus as "a curious false start to history"[7] because, despite its critical spirit, it failed to liberate history from myth. Herodotus mentions Hecataeus in his Histories, on one occasion mocking him for his naive genealogy and, on another occasion, quoting Athenian complaints against his handling of their national history.[8] It is possible that Herodotus borrowed much material from Hecataeus, as stated by Porphyry in a quote recorded by Eusebius.[9] In particular, it is possible that he copied descriptions of the crocodile, hippopotamus and phoenix from Hecataeus's 'Circumnavigation of the Known World' (Periegesis/Periodos ges), even mis-representing the source as 'Heliopolitans' (Histories 2.73).[10] But unlike Herodotus, Hecataeus did not record events that had occurred in living memory, nor did he include the oral traditions of Greek history within the larger framework of oriental history.[11] There is no proof that Herodotus derived the ambitious scope of his own work, with its grand theme of civilizations in conflict, from any predecessor, despite much scholarly speculation about this in modern times.[7][12] Herodotus claims to be better informed than his predecessors, relying on empirical observation to correct their excessive schematism. For example, he argues for continental asymmetry as opposed to the older theory of a perfectly circular earth with Europe and Asia/Africa equal in size (Hist. 4.36 and 4.42). Yet, he retains idealising tendencies, as in his symmetrical notions of the Danube and Nile.[13]

His debt to previous authors of prose 'histories' might be questionable but there is no doubt that he owed much to the example and inspiration of poets and story-tellers. For example, Athenian tragic poets provided him with a world-view of a balance between conflicting forces, upset by the hubris of kings, and they provided his narrative with a model of episodic structure. His familiarity with Athenian tragedy is demonstrated in a number of passages echoing Aeschylus's Persae, including the epigrammatic observation that the defeat of the Persian navy at Salamis caused the defeat of the land army (Hist. 8.68 ~ Persae 728). The debt may have been repaid by Sophocles because there appear to be echoes of The Histories in his plays, especially a passage in Antigone that resembles Herodotus's account of the death of Intaphernes (Histories 3.119 ~ Antigone 904-20)[14]—this however is one of the most contentious issues in modern scholarship.[15]

Homer was another inspirational source.[16]

Just as Homer drew extensively on a tradition of oral poetry, sung by wandering minstrels, so Herodotus appears to have drawn on an Ionian tradition of story-telling, collecting and interpreting the oral histories he chanced upon in his travels. These oral histories often contained folk-tale motifs and demonstrated a moral, yet they also contained substantial facts relating to geography, anthropology and history, all compiled by Herodotus in an entertaining style and format.[17] It is on account of the many strange stories and the folk-tales he reported that his critics in early modern times branded him 'The Father of Lies'.[18][19] Even his own contemporaries found reason to scoff at his achievement. In fact one modern scholar[20] has wondered if Herodotus left his home in Asiatic Greece, migrating westwards to Athens and beyond, because his own countrymen had ridiculed his work, a circumstance possibly hinted at in an epitaph said to have been dedicated to Herodotus at Thuria (one of his three supposed resting places):

Yet it was in Athens where his most formidable contemporary critics could be found. In 425 BC, which is about the time that Herodotus is thought by many scholars to have died, the Athenian comic dramatist, Aristophanes, created The Acharnians, in which he blames The Peloponnesian War on the abduction of some prostitutes—a mocking reference to Herodotus, who reported the Persians' account of their wars with Greece, beginning with the rapes of the mythical heroines Io, Europa, Medea and Helen.[22][23] Similarly, the Athenian historian Thucydides dismissed Herodotus as a 'logos-writer' or story-teller.[24] Thucydides, who had been trained in rhetoric, became the model for subsequent prose-writers as an author who seeks to appear firmly in control of his material, whereas Herodotus with his frequent digressions appeared to minimize (or possibly disguise) his auctorial control.[25] Moreover, Thucydides developed a historical topic more in keeping with the Greek lifestyle—the polis or city-state—whereas the interplay of civilizations was more relevant to Asiatic Greeks (such as Herodotus himself), for whom life under foreign rule was a recent memory.[24]


Relief of Herodotus by Jean-Guillaume Moitte (1806), Louvre, Paris

Modern scholars generally turn to Herodotus's own writing for reliable information about his life,[27] supplemented with ancient yet much later sources, such as the Byzantine Suda:

Typically modern accounts of his life[29][30] go something like this: Herodotus was born at Halicarnassus around 484 BC. There is no reason to disbelieve the Suda's information about his family, that it was influential and that he was the son of Lyxes and Dryo, and the brother of Theodorus, and that he was also related to Panyassis, an epic poet of the time. The town was within the Persian empire at that time and maybe the young Herodotus heard local eye-witness accounts of events within the empire and of Persian preparations for the invasion of Greece, including the movements of the local fleet under the command of Artemisia. Inscriptions recently discovered at Halicarnassus indicate that her grandson Lygdamis negotiated with a local assembly to settle disputes over seized property, which is consistent with a tyrant under pressure, and his name is not mentioned later in the tribute list of the Athenian Delian League, indicating that there might well have been a successful uprising against him sometime before 454 BC. Herodotus reveals affection for the island of Samos (III,39–60) and this is an indication that he might have lived there in his youth. So it is possible that his family was involved in an uprising against Lygdamis, leading to a period of exile on Samos and followed by some personal hand in the tyrant's eventual fall.

The statue of Herodotus in Bodrum

As Herodotus himself reveals, Halicarnassus, though a Dorian city, had ended its close relations with its Dorian neighbours after an unseemly quarrel (I,144), and it had helped pioneer Greek trade with Egypt (II,178). It was therefore an outward-looking, international-minded port within the Persian Empire and the historian's family could well have had contacts in countries under Persian rule, facilitating his travels and his researches. His eye-witness accounts indicate that he traveled in Egypt probably sometime after 454 BC or possibly earlier in association with Athenians, after an Athenian fleet had assisted the uprising against Persian rule in 460–454 BC. He probably traveled to Tyre next and then down the Euphrates to Babylon. For some reason, probably associated with local politics, he subsequently found himself unpopular in Halicarnassus and, sometime around 447 BC, he migrated to Periclean Athens, a city for whose people and democratic institutions he declares his open admiration (V,78) and where he came to know not just leading citizens such as the Alcmaeonids, a clan whose history features frequently in his writing, but also the local topography (VI,137; VIII,52–5).

According to Eusebius[31] and Plutarch,[32] Herodotus was granted a financial reward by the Athenian assembly in recognition of his work and there may be some truth in this. It is possible that he applied for Athenian citizenship—a rare honour after 451 BC, requiring two separate votes by a well-attended assembly—but was unsuccessful. In 443 BC, or shortly afterwards, he migrated to Thurium as part of an Athenian-sponsored colony. Aristotle refers to a version of The Histories written by 'Herodotus of Thurium' and indeed some passages in the Histories have been interpreted as proof that he wrote about southern Italy from personal experience there (IV,15,99; VI,127). Intimate knowledge of some events in the first years of the Peloponnesian War (VI,91; VII,133,233; IX,73) indicate that he might have returned to Athens, in which case it is possible that he died there during an outbreak of the plague. Possibly he died in Macedonia instead after obtaining the patronage of the court there or else he died back in Thurium. There is nothing in the Histories that can be dated with any certainty to later than 430, and it is generally assumed that he died not long afterwards, possibly before his sixtieth year.

Herodotus wrote his Histories in the Ionian dialect yet he was born in Halicarnassus, originally a Dorian settlement. According to the Suda (an 11th-century encyclopaedia of Byzantium which possibly took its information from traditional accounts), Herodotus learned the Ionian dialect as a boy living on the island of Samos, whither he had fled with his family from the oppressions of Lygdamis, tyrant of Halicarnassus and grandson of Artemisia I of Caria. The Suda also informs us that Herodotus later returned home to lead the revolt that eventually overthrew the tyrant. However, thanks to recent discoveries of some inscriptions on Halicarnassus, dated to about that time, we now know that the Ionic dialect was used there even in official documents, so there was no need to assume like the Suda that he must have learned the dialect elsewhere.[33] Moreover, the fact that the Suda is the only source we have for the heroic role played by Herodotus, as liberator of his birthplace, is itself a good reason to doubt such a romantic account.[34]

It was conventional in Herodotus's day for authors to 'publish' their works by reciting them at popular festivals. According to Lucian, Herodotus took his finished work straight from Asia Minor to the Olympic Games and read the entire Histories to the assembled spectators in one sitting, receiving rapturous applause at the end of it.[35] According to a very different account by an ancient grammarian,[36] Herodotus refused to begin reading his work at the festival of Olympia until some clouds offered him a bit of shade, by which time however the assembly had dispersed—thus the proverbial expression "Herodotus and his shade" to describe someone who misses an opportunity through delay. Herodotus's recitation at Olympia was a favourite theme among ancient writers and there is another interesting variation on the story to be found in the Suda, Photius[37] and Tzetzes,[38] in which a young Thucydides happened to be in the assembly with his father and burst into tears during the recital, whereupon Herodotus observed prophetically to the boy's father: "Thy son's soul yearns for knowledge."

Eventually, Thucydides and Herodotus became close enough for both to be interred in Thucydides's tomb in Athens. Such at least was the opinion of Marcellinus in his Life of Thucydides.[39] According to the Suda, he was buried in Macedonian Pella and in the agora in Thurium.[40]


Dedication in the Histories, translated into Latin by Lorenzo Valla, Venice 1494

While The Histories were occasionally criticized in antiquity,[41] modern historians and philosophers generally take a positive view.[42] Despite the controversy,[43][44][45] Herodotus still serves as the primary, and often only, source for events in the Greek world, Persian Empire, and the region generally in the two centuries leading up until his own day.[18][46] Herodotus, like many ancient historians, preferred an element of show[47][48] to purely analytic history, aiming to give pleasure with “exciting events, great dramas, bizarre exotica.” [49] As such, certain passages[50][51] have been the subject of controversy and even some doubt, both in antiquity and today.[52][53][54][55][56][57][58][59][60]

The accuracy of the works of Herodotus has been controversial since his own era.[61] Cicero,[62][63] Aristotle, Josephus, Duris of Samos[64][65] Harpocration[66][67] and Plutarch all commented on this controversy.[68][69] Generally, though, he was then, and especially is now, regarded as reliable. Many scholars (Aubin, A. H. L. Heeren, Davidson, Cheikh Anta Diop, Poe, Welsby, Celenko, Volney, Pierre Montet, Bernal, Jackson, DuBois, Strabo), ancient and modern, routinely cite Herodotus. Many of these scholars (Welsby, Heeren, Aubin, Diop, etc.) explicitly mention the reliability of Herodotus's work[70] and demonstrate corroboration of Herodotus's writings by modern scholars.[71][72] A.H.L. Heeren quoted Herodotus throughout his work and provided corroboration by scholars regarding several passages (source of the Nile, location of Meroe, etc.).[73] To further his work on the Egyptians and Assyrians, Aubin uses Herodotus's accounts in various passages and defends Herodotus's position. Aubin said Herodotus was "the author of the first important narrative history of the world".[74] Diop provides several examples (the inundations of the Nile) that he argues support his view that Herodotus was "quite scrupulous, objective, scientific for his time." Diop argues that Herodotus "always distinguishes carefully between what he has seen and what he has been told." Diop also notes that Strabo corroborated Herodotus's ideas about the Black Egyptians, Ethiopians, and Colchians.[75][76]

Reconstruction of the Oikoumene (inhabited world), ancient map based on Herodotus, c. 450 BC

The reliability of Herodotus is sometimes criticized when writing about Egypt.[59][77] Alan B. Lloyd argues that as a historical document, the writings of Herodotus are seriously defective, and that he was working from "inadequate sources".[78] Nielsen writes that: "Though we cannot entirely rule out the possibility of Herodotus having been in Egypt, it must be said that his narrative bears little witness to it."[79] German historian Detlev Fehling questions whether Herodotus ever traveled up the Nile River, and considers almost everything he says about Egypt and Ethiopia doubtful.[80][81] About the claim of Herodotus that the Pharaoh Sesostris campaigned in Europe, and that he left a colony in Colchia, Fehling states that "there is not the slightest bit of history behind the whole story".[56][82][83]

Gold dust and nuggets

Herodotus provides much information about the nature of the world and the status of science during his lifetime, often engaging in private speculation. For example, he reports that the annual flooding of the Nile was said to be the result of melting snows far to the south, and he comments that he cannot understand how there can be snow in Africa, the hottest part of the known world, offering an elaborate explanation based on the way that desert winds affect the passage of the Sun over this part of the world (2:18ff). He also passes on dismissive reports from Phoenician sailors that, while circumnavigating Africa, they "saw the sun on the right side while sailing westwards". Owing to this brief mention, which is included almost as an afterthought, it has been argued that Africa was indeed circumnavigated by ancient seafarers, for this is precisely where the sun ought to have been. His accounts of India are among the oldest records of Indian civilization by an outsider.[84]

Discoveries made since the end of the 19th century have generally added to his credibility. His description of Gelonus, located in Scythia, as a city thousands of times larger than Troy was widely disbelieved until it was rediscovered in 1975. The archaeological study of the now-submerged ancient Egyptian city of Heracleion and the recovery of the so-called "Naucratis stela" give credibility to Herodotus's previously unsupported claim that Heracleion was founded during the Egyptian New Kingdom.

Croesus Receiving Tribute from a Lydian Peasant, by Claude Vignon
After journeys to India and Pakistan, French ethnologist Michel Peissel claimed to have discovered an animal species that may illuminate one of the most bizarre passages in Herodotus's Histories.[85] In Book 3, passages 102 to 105, Herodotus reports that a species of fox-sized, furry "ants" lives in one of the far eastern, Indian provinces of the Persian Empire. This region, he reports, is a sandy desert, and the sand there contains a wealth of fine gold dust. These giant ants, according to Herodotus, would often unearth the gold dust when digging their mounds and tunnels, and the people living in this province would then collect the precious dust. Peissel reports that in an isolated region of northern Pakistan, on the Deosai Plateau in Gilgit–Baltistan province, there is a species of marmot, (the Himalayan marmot), (a type of burrowing squirrel) that may have been what Herodotus called giant ants. Much like the province that Herodotus describes, the ground of the Deosai Plateau is rich in gold dust. According to Peissel, he interviewed the Minaro tribal people who live in the Deosai Plateau, and they have confirmed that they have, for generations, been collecting the gold dust that the marmots bring to the surface when they are digging their underground burrows. Later authors like Pliny the Elder mentioned this story in the gold mining section of his Naturalis Historia. Peissel offers the theory that Herodotus may have confused the old Persian word for "marmot" with the word for "mountain ant". Research suggests that Herodotus probably did not know any Persian (or any other language except his native Greek) and was forced to rely on a many local translators when travelling in the vast multilingual Persian Empire. Herodotus did not claim to have personally seen the creatures he described.[85][86] However Herodotus did follow up in passage 105 of Book 3, with the claim that the "ants" are said to chase and devour full-grown camels. The details of the "ants" seem somewhat similar to the description of the camel spider (Solifugae), which are said to chase camels, have lots of hair bristles, and could quite easily be mistaken for ants. Images of camel spiders could give the impression that this could be mistaken for a giant ant, but certainly not the size of a fox.

Some "calumnious fictions" were written about Herodotus in a work titled On the Malice of Herodotus, by Plutarch, a Chaeronean by birth, (or it might have been a Pseudo-Plutarch, in this case "a great collector of slanders"), including the allegation that the historian was prejudiced against Thebes because the authorities there had denied him permission to set up a school.[87] Similarly, in a Corinthian Oration, Dio Chrysostom (or yet another pseudonymous author) accused the historian of prejudice against Corinth, sourcing it in personal bitterness over financial disappointments[88]—an account also given by Marcellinus in his Life of Thucydides.[89] In fact Herodotus was in the habit of seeking out information from empowered sources within communities, such as aristocrats and priests, and this also occurred at an international level, with Periclean Athens becoming his principal source of information about events in Greece. As a result, his reports about Greek events are often coloured by Athenian bias against rival states—Thebes and Corinth in particular.[90]

Although The Histories were sometimes criticized in antiquity,[91] modern historians and philosophers take a more positive view of Herodotus's methodology, especially those searching for a paradigm of objective historical writing. A few modern scholars have argued that Herodotus exaggerated the extent of his travels and invented his sources[92] yet his reputation continues largely intact: "The Father of History is also the father of comparative anthropology",[18] "the father of ethnography",[46] and he is "more modern than any other ancient historian in his approach to the ideal of total history".[42]

Herodotus and myth

Although Herodotus considered his "inquiries" a serious pursuit of knowledge, he was not above relating entertaining tales derived from the collective body of myth, but he did so judiciously with regard for his historical method, by corroborating the stories through enquiry and testing their probability.[93] While the gods never make personal appearances in his account of human events, Herodotus states emphatically that "many things prove to me that the gods take part in the affairs of man" (IX, 100).

In Book One, passages 23 and 24, Herodotus relates the story of Arion, the renowned harp player, "second to no man living at that time," who was saved by a dolphin. Herodotus prefaces the story by noting that "a very wonderful thing is said to have happened," and alleges its veracity by adding that the "Corinthians and the Lesbians agree in their account of the matter." Having become very rich while at the court of Periander, Arion conceived a desire to sail to Italy and Sicily. He hired a vessel crewed by Corinthians, whom he felt he could trust, but the sailors plotted to throw him overboard and seize his wealth. Arion discovered the plot and begged for his life, but the crew gave him two options: that either he kill himself on the spot or jump ship and fend for himself in the sea. Arion flung himself into the water, and a dolphin carried him to shore.[94]

Herodotus included stories with a fairy tale quality in part because such stories share repetitive patterns that point toward commonly accepted truths and thus serve to underline the moral themes in a particularly economical manner, as in the story of Candaules's bodyguard, Gyges, who supplanted his sovereign at the behest of Candaules's wife, the Queen. The uxorious Candaules, proud of his wife's beauty, arranged for Gyges to bear witness to the spectacle of her naked form (thereby giving a name to the practice of Candaulism), but the Queen inadvertently espied Gyges when he sneaked from his hiding spot. She demanded that Gyges kill Candaules, because the King had seen fit to shame her, and after doing so Gyges assumed the throne.[95] Thus Herodotus draws out the themes of sex and power that, it so happens, are also the main themes of the History as a whole. Herodotus begins his History with an account of the abductions of three women (Io, Europa, and Medea) in mythic times, which he claims were the "grounds of feud" between the Greeks and the Barbarians.

In the 42nd passage of Book IV Herodotus states, "For my part I am astonished that men should ever have divided Libya, Asia, and Europe as they have, for they are exceedingly unequal." And later in the 45th passage he adds, "I cannot conceive why three names, and women's names especially, should ever have been given to a tract which is in reality one." In these observations are contained some of the most basic elements of myth, or mythemes, that recur throughout the text. Herodotus depicts a Fall from a state of harmony: what was once a unified tract (accord) is now divided unequally (discord) and fought over by men because of lust for land and women who, in this scenario, appear to be cast in the role of seductress.

See also


  1. ^ New Oxford American Dictionary, "Herodotos", Oxford University Press
  2. ^ Herodotus, Histories 1.1.0
  3. ^ Aubrey de Selincourt (trans.), Herodotus: The Histories, Penguin Classics, 1972, page 41
  4. ^ A.R. Burn, Herodotus: The Histories, Penguin Classics, 1972, page 23, citing Dionysius On Thucydides
  5. ^ A.R. Burn, Herodotus: The Histories, Penguin Classics, 1972, page 27
  6. ^ FGH I, F.I
  7. ^ a b Oswyn Murray, 'Greek Historians' in The Oxford History of the Classical World, J. Boardman, J. Griffin and O. Murray (ed.s), Oxford University Press (1986) page 188
  8. ^ Herodotus 2.143, 6.137
  9. ^ Preparation of the Gospel, X,3
  10. ^ Henry R. Immerwahr, 'Herodotus', in The Cambridge History of Classical Greek Literature: Greek Literature, P. Easterling and B. Knox (eds), Cambridge University Press (1985), pages 430, 440
  11. ^ Henry R. Immerwahr, 'Herodotus', in The Cambridge History of Classical Greek Literature: Greek Literature, P. Easterling and B. Knox (eds), Cambridge University Press (1985), page 431
  12. ^ A.R. Burn, Herodotus: The Histories, Penguin Classics, 1972, pages 22-3
  13. ^ Henry R. Immerwahr, 'Herodotus', in The Cambridge History of Classical Greek Literature: Greek Literature, P. Easterling and B. Knox (eds), Cambridge University Press (1985), page 430
  14. ^ Henry R. Immerwahr, 'Herodotus', in The Cambridge History of Classical Greek Literature: Greek Literature, P. Easterling and B. Knox (eds), Cambridge University Press (1985), pages 427, 432
  15. ^ Richard Jebb (ed), Antigone, Cambridge University Press, 1976, pages 181-82 n.904-920
  16. ^ George Rawlinson, ''The History of Herodotus'' Vol.1, D. Appleton and Company, New York (1859), page 6. 1859. Retrieved 17 October 2013. In the scheme and plan of his work, in the arrangement and order of its parts, in the tone and character of the thoughts, in ten thousand little expressions and words, the Homeric student appears. 
  17. ^ Oswyn Murray, 'Greek Historians' in The Oxford History of the Classical World, J.Boardman, J. Griffin and O. Murray (ed.s), Oxford University Press (1986) page 190-91
  18. ^ a b c A.R. Burn, Herodotus: The Histories, Penguin Classics, 1972, page 10
  19. ^ David Pipes. "Herodotus: Father of History, Father of Lies". Retrieved 16 November 2009. 
  20. ^ George Rawlinson, The History of Herodotus Vol.1, D. Appleton and Company, New York (1859), page (details later)
  21. ^ A.R. Burn, 'Introduction' in Herodotus: The Histories, Penguin Classics, 1972, page 13
  22. ^ The Peloponnesian War, Lawrence A.Tritle, Greenwood Publishing Group 2004, page 147-48
  23. ^ Herodotus and Greek History John Hart, Taylor and Francis 1982, page 174
  24. ^ a b Oswyn Murray, 'Greek Historians' in The Oxford History of the Classical World, J. Boardman, J. Griffin and O. Murray (ed.s), Oxford University Press (1986) page 191
  25. ^ Robin Waterfield (trans.) and Carolyn Dewald (ed.), The Histories by Herodotus, University of Oxford Press (1998), Introduction pages xviii
  26. ^ Richard C. Jebb, The Genius of Sophocles, section 7
  27. ^ A.R. Burn, Herodotus: The Histories, Penguin Classics (1972), page 7
  28. ^ George Rawlinson, The History of Herodotus Vol.I, D. Appleton and Co., New York (1859), page 1)
  29. ^ George Rawlinson, The History of Herodotus Vol.I, D. Appleton and Co., New York (1859), Introduction)
  30. ^ A.R. Burn, Herodotus: The Histories, Penguin Classics (1972), Introduction
  31. ^ Eusebius Chron. Can. Pars. II p339, 01.83.4 (cited by George Rawlinson, The History of Herodotus Vol.I, D. Appleton and Co., New York (1859), Introduction)
  32. ^ Plutarch De Malign. Herod. II p862 A (cited by George Rawlinson, The History of Herodotus Vol.I, D. Appleton and Co., New York (1859), Introduction)
  33. ^ A. R. Burn, Herodotus: The Histories, Penguin Classics (1972), page 11
  34. ^ George Rawlinson, The History of Herodotus Vol.I, D. Appleton and Co., New York (1859), page 11
  35. ^ George Rawlinson, The History of Herodotus Vol.I, D. Appleton and Co., New York (1859), page 14
  36. ^ Montfaucon's Bibliothec. Coisl. Cod. clxxvii p 609 (cited by George Rawlinson, The History of Herodotus Vol.I, D. Appleton and Co., New York (1859), page 14
  37. ^ Photius Bibliothec. Cod. lx p 59 (cited by George Rawlinson, The History of Herodotus Vol.I, D. Appleton and Co., New York (1859), page 15
  38. ^ Tzetzes Chil. 1.19 (cited by George Rawlinson, The History of Herodotus Vol.I, D. Appleton and Co., New York (1859), page 15
  39. ^ Marcellinus, in Vita. Thucyd. p ix (cited by George Rawlinson, The History of Herodotus Vol.I, D. Appleton and Co., New York (1859), page 25
  40. ^ George Rawlinson, The History of Herodotus Vol.I, D. Appleton and Co., New York (1859), page 25
  41. ^ see Lucian of Samosata who in Verae Historiae went as far as to deny him a place among the famous on the Island of the Blessed
  42. ^ a b Oswyn Murray, 'Greek Historians' in The Oxford History of the Classical World, J.Boardman, J. Griffin and O. Murray (ed.s), Oxford University Press (1986) page 189
  43. ^ ''Herodotus and Religion in the Persian Wars'', by Jon D. Mikalson, pp. 198–200. 2003.  
  44. ^ Some regard his works as being at least partly unreliable. Fehling writes of "a problem recognized by everybody", namely that Herodotus frequently cannot be taken at face value.
  45. ^ Detlev Fehling, Travel Fact and Travel Fiction edited by Z. R. W. M. von Martels, pg 2. 1994.  
  46. ^ a b C. P. Jones, "ἔθνος and γένος in Herodotos", The Classical Quarterly, New Series, 46 (2):315; 1996
  47. ^ Depew and Obbink comment on Herodotus' use of literary devices
  48. ^ ''Matrices of Genre: Authors, Canons, and Society'', by Mary Depew, Dirk Obbink, pp. 101–102. 30 June 2009.  .
  49. ^ Saltzman, Joe. "Herodotus as an Ancient Journalist: Reimagining Antiquity’s Historians as Journalists". Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism,  
  50. ^ Multicultural Writers from Antiquity to 1945: A Bio-Bibliographical Sourcebook, edited by Alba Della Fazia Amoia, Bettina Liebowitz Knapp, pg 171. 2002.  
  51. ^ Modernist Travel Writing: Intellectuals Abroad, pg 21, by David Farley. 30 November 2010.  
  52. ^ Herodotus, by Alan B. Lloyd, pg 4. 1988.  
  53. ^ The Tragedy in History: Herodotus and the Deuteronomistic History, by Flemming A. J. Nielsen, pg 42-43. 1997-11-01.  
  54. ^ Herodotus: Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guide, by Emily Baragwanath, Mathieu de Bakker, pg 19. 2010-05-01.  
  55. ^ Travel Fact and Travel Fiction edited by Z. R. W. M. von Martels, pg 13. 1994.  
  56. ^ a b,+fehling&hl=en&sa=X&ei=NKoOUZ-ZGZGRhQejo4GgDQ&ved=0CDcQ6AEwAjgK#v=snippet&q=egypt&f=false
  57. ^ Greek Historians, by John Marincola, pg 34
  58. ^ Dalley, S. (2003). "Why did Herodotus not mention the Hanging Gardens of Babylon?". In Derow, P.; Parker, R. Herodotus and his World. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 171–89.  
  59. ^ a b Dalley, S. (2013). The Mystery of the Hanging Garden of Babylon; an elusive World Wonder traced. OUP.  
  60. ^ For Detlev Fehling the sources that Herodotus claims for many stories that he reports are simply not credible. Persian and Egyptian informants tell stories to Heroditus that dovetail neatly into Greek myths and literature yet show no signs of knowing their own traditions. For Fehling the only credible explanation is that Heroditus invented these sources and that the stories themselves were concocted by Herodotus himself. Herodotus and his 'sources' : citation, invention and narrative art by Detlev Fehling ; translated from the German by J.G. Howie. p4, pp53-4
  61. ^ Kenton L. Sparks writes that "In antiquity, Herodotus had acquired the reputation of being unreliable, biased, parsimonious in his praise of heroes, and mendacious".
  62. ^ Cicero (On the Laws I.5) said the works of Herodotus were full of legends or "fables"
  63. ^ Herodotus: A Very Short Introduction, by Jennifer T. Roberts. 23 June 2011.  
  64. ^ Duris of Samos called Herodotus a myth-monger.
  65. ^ Greek Historians, by John Marincola, pg 59. 13 December 2001.  
  66. ^ Harpocration wrote a book on "the lies of Herodotus"
  67. ^ Greek Mythography in the Roman World, by Alan Cameron, pg 156. 2004-08-06.  
  68. ^ Ethnicity and Identity in Ancient Israel, pg 58, by Kenton L. Sparks. 1998-01-01.  
  69. ^ A Commentary on Herodotus, Books 1-4 , by David Asheri, Alan Lloyd, Aldo Corcella. 30 August 2007. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  70. ^ such as on the Nile Valley
  71. ^ Welsby said that "archaeology graphically confirms Herodotus' observations."
  72. ^ Welsby, Derek (1996). The Kingdom of Kush. London: British Museum Press. p. 40.  
  73. ^ Heeren, A. H. L. (1838). Historical researches into the politics, intercourse, and trade of the Carthaginians, Ethiopians, and Egyptians. Michigan: University of Michigan Library. pp. 13, 379, 422–424.  
  74. ^ Aubin, Henry (2002). The Rescue of Jerusalem. New York, NY: Soho Press. pp. 94–96,100–102,118–121,141–144,328, 336.  
  75. ^ Diop, Cheikh Anta (1981). Civilization or Barbarism. Chicago, Illinois: Lawrence Hill Books. p. 1.  
  76. ^ Diop, Cheikh Anta (1974). The African Origin of Civilization. Chicago, Illinois: Lawrence Hill Books. p. 2.  
  77. ^ Herodotus claimed to have visited  
  78. ^ Herodotus, by Alan B. Lloyd, pg 4. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  79. ^ The Tragedy in History: Herodotus and the Deuteronomistic History, by Flemming A. J. Nielsen, pg 42-43. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  80. ^ Travel Fact and Travel Fiction edited by Z. R. W. M. von Martels, pg 4-6. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  81. ^ Herodotus: Oxford Bibliographies Online Research Guide, by Emily Baragwanath, Mathieu de Bakker, pg 19. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  82. ^ Travel Fact and Travel Fiction edited by Z. R. W. M. von Martels, pg 13. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  83. ^ Fehling concludes that the works of Herodotus are intended as fiction. Depew and Obbink concur that much of the content of the works of Herodotus are literary devices. Greek Historians, by John Marincola, pg 34. ''Matrices of Genre: Authors, Canons, and Society'', by Mary Depew, Dirk Obbink, pp. 101–102. 30 June 2009. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  84. ^ The Indian Empire The Imperial Gazetteer of India, 1909, v. 2, p. 272.
  85. ^ a b Peissel, Michel (1984). The Ants' Gold: The Discovery of the Greek El Dorado in the Himalayas. Collins.  
  86. ^ Simons, Marlise. Himalayas Offer Clue to Legend of Gold-Digging 'Ants'. New York Times: 25 November 1996.
  87. ^ George Rawlinson, The History of Herodotus Vol.1, D. Appleton and Company, New York (1859), pages 13-14
  88. ^ "Dio Chrysostom ''Orat. xxxvii, p11". Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  89. ^ Marcellinus, Life of Thucydides
  90. ^ A.R. Burn, Herodotus: The Histories, Penguin Classics (1972), pages 8,9,32-4
  91. ^ Criticized of inaccuracy for example by Lucian of Samosata who attacked Herodotus as a liar in Verae Historiae and went as far as to deny him a place among the famous on the Island of the Blessed
  92. ^ Fehling, Detlev. Herodotos and His "Sources": Citation, Invention, and Narrative Art. Translated by J.G. Howie. Arca Classical and Medieval Texts, Papers, and Monographs, 21. Leeds: Francis Cairns, 1989.
  93. ^ “Myth in Greek Historiography,” Historia: Zeitschrift fur Alte Geschichte (October 1960), 403.
  94. ^ Histories 1.23–24.
  95. ^ Histories 1.8–12.


Several English translations of The Histories of Herodotus are readily available in multiple editions. The most readily available are those translated by:

  • A. D. Godley 1920; revised 1926. Reprinted 1931, 1946, 1960, 1966, 1975, 1981, 1990, 1996, 1999, 2004. Available in four volumes from Loeb Classical Library, Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-99130-3 Printed with Greek on the left and English on the right.
  • David Grene, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985.
  • Everyman Library and Wordsworth Classics editions are the most common ones still in print.
  • Aubrey de Sélincourt, originally 1954; revised by John Marincola in 1996. Several editions from Penguin Books available.
  • Strassler, Robert B., (ed.), and Purvis, Andrea L. (trans.), The Landmark Herodotus, Pantheon, 2007. ISBN 978-0-375-42109-9 with adequate ancillary information.
  • Robin Waterfield, with an Introduction and Notes by Carolyn Dewald, Oxford World Classics, 1997. ISBN 978-0-19-953566-8
  • The Histories of Herodotus Interlinear English Translation by Heinrich Stein (ed.) and George Macaulay (trans.), Lighthouse Digital Publishing, 2013.

Further reading

  • Bakker, Egbert J.; de Jong, Irene J.F.; van Wees, Hans, eds. (2002). Brill's companion to Herodotus. Leiden: E.J. Brill.  
  • Baragwanath, Emily, Motivation and Narrative in Herodotus, Oxford Classical Monographs, Oxford University Press, 2012. ISBN 978-0-19-964550-3,
  • De Selincourt, Aubrey (1962). The World of Herodotus. London: Secker and Warburg. 
  • Dewald, Carolyn; Marincola, John, eds. (2006). The Cambridge companion to Herodotus. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  
  • Evans, J.A.S. (2006). The beginnings of history: Herodotus and the Persian Wars. Campbellville, Ont.: Edgar Kent.  
  • Evans, J.A.S. (1982). Herodotus. Boston: Twayne.  
  • Evans, J.A.S. (1991). Herodotus, explorer of the past: three essays. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.  
  • Flory, Stewart (1987). The archaic smile of Herodotus. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.  
  • Fornara, Charles W. (1971). Herodotus: An Interpretative Essay. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 
  • Giessen, Hans W. Giessen (2010). Mythos Marathon. Von Herodot über Bréal bis zur Gegenwart. Landau: Verlag Empirische Pädagogik (= Landauer Schriften zur Kommunikations- und Kulturwissenschaft. Band 17).  
  • Gould, John (1989). Herodotus. New York: St. Martin's Press.  
  • Harrington, John W. (1973). To see a world. Saint Louis: G.V. Mosby Co.  
  • Hartog, François (2000). "The Invention of History: The Pre-History of a Concept from Homer to Herodotus". History and Theory 39 (3): 384–395.  
  • Hartog, François (1988). The mirror of Herodotus: the representation of the other in the writing of history. Janet Lloyd, trans. Berkeley: University of California Press.  
  • How, Walter W.; Wells, Joseph, eds. (1912). A Commentary on Herodotus. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 
  • Hunter, Virginia (1982). Past and process in Herodotus and Thucydides. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.  
  • Immerwahr, H. (1966). Form and Thought in Herodotus. Cleveland: Case Western Reserve University Press. 
  • Kapuściński, Ryszard (2007). Travels with Herodotus. Klara Glowczewska, trans. New York: Knopf.  
  • Lateiner, Donald (1989). The historical method of Herodotus. Toronto: Toronto University Press.  
  • Momigliano, Arnaldo (1990). The classical foundations of modern historiography. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.  
  • Myres, John L. (1971). Herodotus : father of history. Chicago: Henry Regnrey.  
  • Pritchett, W. Kendrick (1993). The liar school of Herodotus. Amsterdam: Gieben.  
  • Romm, James (1998). Herodotus. New Haven: Yale University Press.  
  • Selden, Daniel (1999). "Cambyses' Madness, or the Reason of History". Materiali e discussioni per l'analisi dei testi classici 42: 33–63. 
  • Thomas, Rosalind (2000). Herodotus in context: ethnography, science and the art of persuasion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  

External links

  • Herodotus at
  • A reconstructed portrait of Herodotus, based on historical sources, in a contemporary style.
  • Herodotus on the Web
  • Herodotus of Halicarnassus at
  • 1911 Britannica article "Herodotus"
  • Mendelsohn, Daniel (28 April 2008). "Arms and the Man".  
  • Herodotus Inquiries—new translation with photographic essays of the places and artifacts mentioned by Herodotus hyperlinked to the text
  • Works by Herodotus at Project Gutenberg
  • George Campbell Macaulay, 1852–1915)
  • The History of Herodotus, vol. 2 at Project Gutenberg
  • Works by Herodotus at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
  • The History of Herodotus, at The Internet Classics Archive (translation by George Rawlinson).
  • Parallel Greek and English text of the History of Herodotus at the Internet Sacred Text Archive
  • Excerpts of Sélincourt's translation
  • HistoriesHerodotus on Perseus
  • The Histories of Herodotus, A.D. Godley translation with footnotes (Direct link to PDF PDF (14 MB))
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