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The Disipline of History & Herodotus

Herodotus is known as the "Father of History" and is credited thus with founding a discipline that would be carried on first by other Greeks and then become a necessary component in human thought. Subsequent historians have looked back to Herodotus for inspiration and have studied his methods and analyzed his writings, offering their view of the man as historian, as writer, and as the originator of their discipline. An analysis of writings about Herodotus provides a strong picture of the thinking of the man as manifested in his method and his writings.

In the Greek world into which Herodotus was born, prose writing was becoming more and more common for technical works on such subjects as philosophy, law and politics, and science and technology. The Greeks were interested in their past, but what passed for history was really a stock of myths and legends which were thought to be true. The interest was not historical in the sense we use the term, as an inquiry into the facts of such events as the Trojan War or any other occurrence or period. It was something quite different from that, a form of Hellenic or regional consciousness and pride and a search for community solidarity. The past could reinforce these social elements, and the old tales could in fact be revised when needed by new historical developments or political and social changes. This task was in fact made simpler by the great range and quantity of the available myths and by the imprecision that was inevitable i oral transmission. At the end of the sixth century, the Greeks were subjected to the overlordship of the barbarian kingdoms first of Lydia and then Persia. They naturally became curious about these people, and the Greek myths did not satisfy this curiosity. As a result, books were written to provide the desired information (though it was often misinformation), including geographical data, descriptions of social and religious customs, and in a fragmentary ...

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The Disipline of History & Herodotus. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 23:54, June 15, 2019, from