Wednesday, September 20, 2017
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The Persian Wars, Preface


c. 490 - 431 BC

Greek physician, Herodotus is known as "the Father of History". Herodotus' history is an account of the clash between Greece and the Persian Empire.


Herodotus was a Greek historian in the fifth century BC. His birth was around 490 BC. References to certain events in his narratives suggest that he did not die until at least 431 BC, which was the beginning of the Peloponesian War.

In his later years, Herodotus traveled extensively throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. There, he visited the Black Sea, Babylon, Phoenicia, and Egypt.

He is best known for his work entitled Histories. Because of this, Cicero claimed him to be the Father of History. Histories is the story of the rise of Persian power and the friction between Persia and Greece. The battles that are described are the ones fought at Marathon, Thermopylae and Salamis. His story is the historical record of events that happened in his own lifetime. The first Persian War took place just before he was born, while the second happened when he was a child. This gave him the opportunity to question his elders about the events in both wars to get the details he wanted for his story.

Histories also contained information having to do with the country of Egypt. The history, geography and ethnography of Egypt are what Herodotus wrote about. The customs of Egyptians fascinated him because of their differences compared to Greek culture. He wrote about how the Egyptians did everything backwards in relation to the Greeks. Observations he made describe how the Egyptians wrote from right to left, instead of left to right. Activities like eating were done outside while doing their "easement" indoors. The reason he gave was that the Egyptians thought "unseemly but necessary things should be done in secret, and things not unseemly in the open."

Herodotus also wrote about the appearance of the priests. He noticed that the Egyptian priests had shaven heads, while priests from other lands kept their hair long. The Egyptians, in his opinion, were the most religious nation than any other he had known. The monuments that he witnessed also filled him with wonder. He even considered Egypt to have more monuments than any other country in the world. The Nile River was also a target for his writings, which were considered valuable. Before the beginning of Egyptology in the nineteenth century, Herodotus writings were the main source of information pertaining to Egypt.

Although early Egyptologists regarded his chronicles of Egypt as a valuable source of information, the accuracy of some of Herodotus' writings have been challenged. His eyewitness accounts are thought of as accurate, but the stories told to him are questioned. Some researchers think the people who told Herodotus information could have forgotten parts, or just humored him with an interesting answer having nothing to do with the truth.

by: Matt Bune


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