“Father of History” Herodotus

  Around 425 BC, a new tomb facing the sea was erected on the shores of the Gulf of Tallinton in southern Italy. The stone in front of the tomb bears the following inscription: “This tomb contains the bones of Herodotus, son of Lyxus, the best of the historians who wrote in the Ionian dialect, who lived in the country of the Dorians. He grew up here, but in order to escape the unbearable gossip, he came to Turioy and finally rested here.” ), the ancient Greek historian Herodotus famous for his book. He was honored as the “Father of History” in ancient Roman times, and this name is still used today.
  About 484 BC, Herodotus was born in Halicarnassos, on the southwestern coast of Asia Minor, which was a colonial city established by the ancient Greeks when they were exploring overseas in the early years. Start here. Herodotus’ father was a wealthy slave owner, and his family was relatively well-off since he was a child, and he also had the opportunity to receive a good education. His uncle was a famous local poet, and Herodotus the younger also loved epic recitations that were popular at the time. After Herodotus spent his childhood without food and clothing, he began to pay attention to politics, and was influenced by his uncle to advocate democratic regimes. At that time, the people who ruled the city-state conspired to usurp the power, and Herodotus actively participated in the struggle to overthrow the usurper with his uncle. But they were crushed in the conflict, his uncle was killed and he was exiled. Later, the usurper was overthrown, and he once returned to his homeland. Soon he was forced to leave due to internal conflict and never returned.
  From about the age of 30, Herodotus began to travel extensively. Its footprints reach the northern shore of the Black Sea in the north, the southernmost tip of Egypt in the south, the lower reaches of the Mesopotamia in the east, and the Italian Peninsula and Sicily in the west. Everywhere Herodotus went, he went to the historical sites to browse the condolences, inspect the geographical environment, and learn about the customs and customs. He also loves listening to folklore and historical stories told by the locals, and keeps a record of it all with him. Around 445 BC, Herodotus came to Athens, the political, economic and cultural center of Greece. At that time, Athens had just experienced the bloody baptism of the war between Greece and Persia. Athens, which had won an unprecedented victory, was in high spirits, showing a thriving scene both politically and economically, and its academic culture was even more dominant in the Greek world. Herodotus was very excited when he came here, actively participated in various rallies and political and cultural activities, and forged a deep friendship with the politician Pericles, the tragic writer Sophocles and others. Herodotus admired the democratic politics of Athens, and admired the Greek city-states headed by Athens and Sparta for defeating the Persian aggression in the Hippo War. He carefully inquired about the various situations of the war from the relevant personnel, and collected a lot of materials. With the encouragement and support of Pericles and his friends, Herodotus was determined to write a complete historical account of the causes and consequences of the Hippo-Persian War, lest the exploits of the Greeks and the aliens be forgotten. This is the motivation behind the creation of History. In the spring of 443 BC, the Athenians planned to establish the city-state of Turion on the coast of Tallinton Bay in southern Italy. Herodotus followed the Athenian settlers there. After that, he began to devote his main energy to writing “History” until his death in 425 BC.
  ”History” is the first work that can be called history in the history of Western historiography. The book is divided into nine volumes, including the hard work and foreign expeditions before and after the founding of the Persian Empire, the strange customs and magnificent buildings of the Egyptians by the Nile River, and the economic conditions and social life of Lydia, Babylon, Scythia and other countries and regions. , all-inclusive. From the Ionian city-state against the Persian uprising as the fuse, Darius and Xerxes, the two generations of outstanding Persian kings and the Greeks, formed a complete system.
  Herodotus’s grand vision left behind rich and precious historical materials. He used a lot of space to describe the history, geography, nationality and customs of the various eastern peoples under Persian rule. He also obtained a lot of information from epics, archival documents and stone inscriptions, making extensive use of the information obtained from his personal travels and field investigations, and the content is quite rich. The geographical environment, ethnic distribution, economic life, political system, local customs, religious beliefs and historical sites of West Asia, North Africa, Greece and other regions are all-encompassing, showing us the national life picture of nearly 20 countries and regions in ancient times. It can be called a small “encyclopedia” of ancient society. Many of his records have been corroborated by research in modern archaeology, anthropology and history. In modern times, hieroglyphic and cuneiform decipherers have also drawn many clues from Herodotus’ extensive records.
  The book “History” is not only a portrait of Herodotus’ life, but also a true reflection of the current social situation at that time, and the exchange and collision of the Middle East and Western civilizations is the main theme of that era. The reason why Herodotus can grasp the pulse of the times is inseparable from the environment in which he grew up. Halicarnassos, the hometown of Herodotus, is a historical city where Eastern and Western civilizations meet, and has always been rich in writers, artists and philosophers. The city’s strong cultural atmosphere created a natural “good harbor” for Herodotus’ growth, and the fusion and collision of Eastern and Western cultures also prompted Herodotus to hold a fair attitude towards Eastern and Western civilizations. The ultimate purpose of Herodotus’s introduction to Eastern civilization is to reveal the causes and consequences of the Hippo war. The way of communication between civilizations is nothing more than peaceful coexistence and war, and war often attracts people’s attention. In the second half of the “History”, Herodotus described in detail the course and results of the Hippo War, from the revolt of the Greek city-states in Asia Minor against Persia until the Greeks occupied the city of Sestos in 478 BC. The magnificence of the war scenes and the detailed descriptions in his works are commendable. So Herodotus condemned the Persian expedition to Greece, saying that “if the king of Persia is a righteous man, he should not covet any other land than his own”. It was through his introduction to the situation in Persia that he came to the conclusion that the failure of Persia was due to the fact that its army was too complex, underestimated the difficulty of fighting on the outside, and the autocracy was its fatal weakness.
  Herodotus yearned for Athenian democracy, but he did not flatter Greek politics; he opposed the dictatorship of the East, but praised the ancient civilization of the East. , he believed that Athens was able to lead the Greeks to victory in the Greek-Persian War because, under democracy, everyone fought for freedom “with all their might”. But he did not deny Persia all, the main object of his fierce attack was the injustice of Persian invasion of Greece, against its monarchy. So at times he even portrayed Persia as a country of heroes, and selectively praised its culture. He also emphasized the influence of ancient eastern civilization on Greece, so the “History” also recorded that the Egyptian solar calendar was more accurate than the Greek calendar; the Greek alphabet was learned from the Phoenicians; the sundial used by the Greeks was the earliest was invented by the Babylonians and so on.
  From the perspective of literary history alone, Herodotus was also a master of literature. “History” is of such high literary value that it is often regarded as the first outstanding prose work in the West. “History” adopts a structure common in oriental literature, that is, small stories within big stories, each of which is interesting. He is also very good at portraying characters. Most of the kings, ministers, politicians, scholars, soldiers, etc. in his writings have distinct characters and vivid images. For example, in the first volume depicting the dialogue between the Greek statesman Solon and the Lydian king Clos, the short-sighted Lydia king and the wise and wise Solon formed a sharp contrast, and the characters’ characteristics were vividly displayed.
  ”History” has strong literary color, loose content structure, and many vivid stories lack organic connection. There is a huge difference from the rigorous style represented by Thucydides. Therefore, Herodotus was also severely criticized by later generations. The worst of them was Plutarch, who wrote a lengthy book review, On the Dangerousness of Herodotus, in which he attacked the History and Herodotus himself. Regardless of whether these evaluations are objective or deliberately imposed sins, Herodotus lived in the period when Greek historiography first began. People’s historical memory has just risen from word of mouth to written records, and the written historical materials accumulated by society are extremely Limited, it is difficult for a clever woman to cook without rice, and it seems that the chroniclers who are interested in writing history can hardly find other more reliable materials except legends. So the early narrators were compelled to conduct investigations and search for all kinds of folklore in order to compile the history of regions, peoples, and city-states. Under the circumstance that ancient transportation information, long-distance travel equipment, recording tools and other conditions were very backward, Herodotus personally traveled in the surrounding areas of the Mediterranean Sea and even as far as the Mesopotamian Plain, which is undoubtedly a pioneering work. With a high sense of historical responsibility, he has overcome countless difficulties unimaginable to modern people, and invested a lot of time, energy and money.
  Many places in Herodotus’ “History” are inevitably destiny and fatalistic, and are mixed with many unsubstantiated myths and nonsense. However, he pioneered the creation of Western history and preserved a large number of precious historical materials. Herodotus deserves the honorable title of “Father of History”.

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