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The Core Curriculum


484 BCE – 420 BCE
Dates are approximate

  Head of Herodotus. Roman copy,  2nd Century, CE. (Wikimedia Commons) Head of Herodotus. Roman copy, 2nd Century, CE. (Wikimedia Commons) Historian of the Persian empire, the Greek city-states, and the conflict between the two. “Of Herodotus of Halicarnassus, this is the presentation of his inquiry, so that human events may not be effaced by time, and the great and marvelous deeds/accomplishments, both those displayed by the Greeks and by the barbarians, may not be without glory, including other things and especially the cause for which they went to war with one another.” With this sentence, beginning with his own name and claiming authorship, Herodotus opens his monumental prose narrative about the rise of the Persian empire and the resistance of Greeks and others to its impressive military power and cultural traditions. And with this statement of purpose and subject Herodotus also inaugurates, although without claiming to do so, the genre of history: the chronological and critical analysis of noteworthy human actions and achievements of the past. Reliable biographical details about Herodotus are few; his text itself suggests that although a native of Halicarnassus (modern Bodrum on the Aegean coast of Turkey), he traveled widely throughout the Mediterranean world. In addition to his wider travels, he clearly spent time in Athens—where we are told that he received the enormous fee of ten talents for a live performance of his History—and came to know its politics and political families well. But most likely he ended his life in the Italian city of Thurii, probably in the 420s BCE, after migrating there when the city was founded by Athens in 444 BCE.  


Works Consulted:

Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome