Herodotus: Father of History

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Andrew Kelly Benson English 271 07 March 2013 Truth in Lies Often referred to as ‘‘The Father of History’’ Herodotus is said to be history’s first historian. He was the first historian that “examined sources critically, covered subjects systematically, and explained events in rational rather than mythical terms” (Robertson 62). Many historians have called Herodotus “The Father of Lies” because of his tendencies towards fanciful oral narratives such as those told by Homer in the Illiad and the Odyssey. However Herodotus is regarded by arguing historians, either as history’s first systematic historian, or as that of a simple narrator of fanciful oral narratives, there is no doubt that he laid the foundation for modern day historiography. Herodotus’ life can be traced through his writings. Although he did not necessarily write about himself, he paid much more attention to dates and places in his writings. Lawall writes this of Herodotus: “Herodotus was born in Halicarnassus (the modern Turkish city of Bodrum) on the coast of Asia Minor. Exiled from his native city, he traveled widely in Greece, southern Italy, Asia Minor, and Egypt, gathering information about the past from physical evidence (buildings, monuments, and the like) and from local people’s accounts of events” (792). Herodotus’ travels and evidence gathering account for his vast knowledge of different cultures and his curiosity in their history. One reason for being called “The Father of Lies” is Herodotus’ acceptance of local people’s accounts of events. Facts tend to be skewed when they are told a hundred times over. Oral tradition is cultural material and tradition transmitted orally from one generation to another. It makes it possible for a society to transmit oral history, oral literature, oral law and other knowledge across generations without a writing system. Herodotus was known to tell
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