Why is Herodotus called “The Father of History”? – Mark Robinson

Giant gold-digging ants, a furious king who orders
the sea to be whipped 300 times, and a dolphin that saves
a famous poet from drowning. These are just some of the stories
from The Histories by Herodotus, an Ancient Greek writer from
the 5th century BCE. Not all the events in the text
may have happened exactly as Herodotus reported them, but this work revolutionized
the way the past was recorded. Before Herodotus, the past was documented
as a list of events with little or no attempt to explain
their causes beyond accepting things
as the will of the gods. Herodotus wanted a deeper,
more rational understanding, so he took a new approach: looking at events from both sides
to understand the reasons for them. Though he was Greek, Herodotus’s
hometown of Halicarnassus was part of the Persian Empire. He grew up during a series of wars
between the powerful Persians and the smaller Greeks, and decided to find out all he could
about the subject. In Herodotus’s telling, the Persian Wars
began in 499 BCE, when the Athenians assisted a rebellion
by Greeks living under Persian rule. In 490, the Persian King, Darius,
sent his army to take revenge on Athens. But at the Battle of Marathon,
the Athenians won an unexpected victory. Ten years later, the Persians returned,
planning to conquer the whole of Greece under the leadership
of Darius’s son, Xerxes. According to Herodotus,
when Xerxes arrived, his million man army was initially
opposed by a Greek force led by 300 Spartans at the mountain pass
of Thermopylae. At great cost to the Persians, the Spartans and their king, Leonidas,
were killed. This heroic defeat has been an inspiration
to underdogs ever since. A few weeks later, the Greek navy
tricked the Persian fleet into fighting in a narrow sea channel
near Athens. The Persians were defeated and Xerxes
fled, never to return. To explain how these wars broke out
and why the Greeks triumphed, Herodotus collected stories
from all around the Mediterranean. He recorded the achievements of both
Greeks and non-Greeks before they were lost
to the passage of time. The Histories opens
with the famous sentence: “Herodotus, of Halicarnassus,
here displays his inquiries.” By framing the book as an “inquiry,” Herodotus allowed it to contain
many different stories, some serious, others less so. He recorded the internal debates
of the Persian court but also tales of Egyptian flying snakes and practical advice
on how to catch a crocodile. The Greek word for this method
of research is “autopsy,” meaning “seeing for oneself.” Herodotus was the first writer
to examine the past by combining the different kinds
of evidence he collected: opsis, or eyewitness accounts, akoe, or hearsay, and ta legomena, or tradition. He then used gnome, or reason, to reach conclusions
about what actually happened. Many of the book’s early readers
were actually listeners. The Histories was originally written
in 28 sections, each of which took about
four hours to read aloud. As the Greeks increased in influence
and power, Herodotus’s writing and the idea of history
spread across the Mediterranean. As the first proper historian,
Herodotus wasn’t perfect. On occasions, he favored
the Greeks over the Persians and was too quick to believe
some of the stories that he heard, which made for inaccuracies. However, modern evidence
has actually explained some of his apparently extreme claims. For instance, there’s a species
of marmot in the Himalayas that spreads gold dust while digging. The ancient Persian word for marmot
is quite close to the word for ant, so Herodotus may have just fallen prey
to a translation error. All in all, for someone who was writing
in an entirely new style, Herodotus did remarkably well. History, right down to the present day,
has always suffered from the partiality and mistakes of historians. Herodotus’s method
and creativity earned him the title that the Roman author Cicero
gave him several hundred years later: “The Father of History.”

100 thoughts on “Why is Herodotus called “The Father of History”? – Mark Robinson

  1. Hey guys! Just wanted to let you know that custom prints inspired by some of your favorite TED-Ed lessons are now available in the TED-Ed Shop: http://bit.ly/2BBVR0z

  2. so ive been playing assassins creed odyssey so i obviously know all about this

  3. Because they do not want you to think the Bible contains historic writing–more accurate than Herodotus.

  4. To all humans who contributed a great efforts to make this world grow more I from bottom of my heart salutes you. !!!!

  5. More importantly why is he called "the father of lies", when the winners version of history is challenged, History itself is challenged.

  6. "He then used Gnome, or reason"

    Ooh hooh heh hah hah, ooh hih heh hah hah.
    Hey y'ol chum, i'm gnot a gnelf
    I'm gnot a gnobling, i'm a gnome, and you've been gnomed!

  7. It's myth European give credit to Greek even many their Philosopher's don't exist its propaganda history created by European

  8. Wow am a history lover .. Mr Herodotus can I have couple history lessons please 🤪

  9. You left out the part about how he traveled around Greece with the misthios Kassandra and helped bring down the Cult of Kosmos!

  10. Herodotus did not use the comparative-rational method of historiography, in fact, his style of gathering evidence was based mostly on eyewitnesses and vocal narration, and he usually did not question them.

  11. I'm gnot a gnelf I'm gnot a gnoblin I'm a gnome and you've been gnomed!!


  12. And then Herodotus appeared in assassin's Creed Odyssey. Great! Time to revisit history!

  13. Oh this mentions the 300 spartans movie where the cliff battle is all about

  14. Egyptian: I could tell you about the aliens who helped us build the pyramids.
    Herodotus: Boring!
    Egyptian: Uh, flying snakes?
    Herodotus: That's the spice!

  15. Can you necessarily blame Herodotus for having bias for his own people over the Persians?

  16. who are here after the discovery of Baris shipwreck that was narrated by Herodotus

  17. I'm currently reading the Histories (Barnes & Noble version) and it's a really fun read so far!

  18. He is the father of history because my teacher told me that but I told my son that if your teacher ask about who is the father of history, I said to him, raise your hands and tell your teacher that it is ENOCH.

  19. uhhh this is wrong. eventually the persians took athens and burnt it down. the price for which persepolis was burnt to the ground.

  20. Why do we either laugh at or study the insane.. instead of the common insanity?

  21. You should’ve made the father of history read the end card

  22. . "HERODOTUS"
    . {anagram}

  23. The person who made this doesn't understand Greek, doesn't understand anything about Greece and the Greek language.
    The Historian's name was not Herodotus, it was Herodotos. The ending "-us" is Latin not Greek. At the time of Herodotos
    Rome was an insignificant place where criminals, prostitutes and similar people lived. No wonder, Herodotos doesn't
    even mention the place. Now, in Greek we find names that end in "-eus" which is a diphthong and has nothing to do with the
    Latin ending which by the way was introduced in the Latin language about the time of Octavianus. Before him also the Latin
    words ended in "-os", taken from the Greek, as also the alphabet, the religion, the laws and a few more things, were taken from
    the Greeks.

    I really do not understand why people who are not even able to spell the word "history" and "Greece" dare propagate their
    ignorance to those who know even less. possibly because they want to impress a girl? perhaps that one on the left with
    the magnetic wet green eyes???

  24. So this is where the name “Darius” come from. League of legends player here

  25. Where can I find and read a copy of the original 10,000 page texts?


  27. He was the original Yelp. If they didnt pay him he exaggerated their bad manners.

  28. One of the reasons why I love AC Odyssey. It's a chance to explore ancient greece with Herodotus

  29. who is the grandfather of History? Ancient KMT, Nubia and Babylon predates ancient greece by far!

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