Why is Herodotus called “The Father of History”? - Mark Robinson
- 1,681,968 Views
- 13,343 Questions Answered
- TEDEd Animation
About 2500 years ago, the writing of history as we understand it didn’t really exist. Then, a man called Herodotus witnessed the Persian invasions of Greece and decided to find out why they happened. Mark Robinson investigates how the idea of "history" came into being.
Herodotus’s work is big, so you need to decide what you want to discover from it! Herodotus created “history” by establishing an overarching narrative with a clear aim in mind. He put together small stories to create a big story, building to a significant climax. Herodotus developed what Aristotle later called a “strung-along style," which reflects the way in which he constructed his inquiry. Herodotus recorded multiple sources and thus had to work to prove his knowledge; this explains why we get a string of stories, arguments, analogies, and eyewitness accounts. For a deeper explanation of Herodotus’s methods, read this article: http://www.historytoday.com/paul-cartledge/herodotus-historian-all-time
It’s probably wise not to just start reading from page one, but to regard it more like a library where you can dip into the different stories at your leisure. As a reader, you need to decide what most interests you. If you simply want to dive into his account of the Persian Wars, then go to Book 6 (the chapters are called "Books") of The Histories and you will find the tale of how the Wars unfolded. If, however, you are more interested in the world that Herodotus explores, then you need to look at different parts of his work. In Book 1, you can find out about the rise of the Persian Empire, while Books 2 and 3 give fascinating details about the history and customs of ancient Egypt. Meanwhile, Books 4 and 5 will tell you about the nature of Libyan, Athenian, and Spartan society.
To build on your knowledge of the Persian Wars, it is worth exploring the British Museum site on the Persian Wars: http://www.ancientgreece.co.uk/war/home_set.html.
You could also listen to these two podcasts on the battles of Thermopylae and Salamis: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p004y278 and http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08j99jl.
For more information about Herodotus, it is useful to look at a map that outlines his understanding of the geography of the areas that he writes about. For a really in-depth investigation of all the wonders that you can find in Herodotus, you can explore an interactive timeline, digital mapping of the text, and battle sites here: http://www.open.edu/openlearn/history-the-arts/history/classical-studies/herodotus-the-histories-timeline#1.
Create and share a new lesson based on this one.