Tag Archives: Herodotus

Good and bad polytheists (part 4): Herodotus and Empedocles

HERODOTUS

220px-Herodotos_Met_91.8This is the great father of history, who flourished in the middle of the 5th century BCE. He was born a subject of Persia in the Ionian city of Halicarnassus, and from there he may have witnessed, as a young boy, some preparations for the second Persian invasion of Greece in 480 BCE, which the treacherous queen of the city took part in on the side of Xerxes. What is certain, however, is that he grew up among veterans of both the Ionian revolt of 499 BCE against Persia and (after he left his city) veterans of the Persian invasion. He also seems to have belonged to a patriotic family, because his cousin Panyassis (a poet of some renown) was executed after an uprising in Halicarnassus, against a treacherous Greek tyrant. Nevertheless, whether he left the city by force or by curiosity is not known; as a subject of Persia, he probably thought little of his citizenship within such a vast empire, or at least wondered what had happened to change his world so much. His interest in the event surely drove him to gather and consume many stories, but he was also concerned about various inquiries, especially how and why could Persia, as far as it was in another part of the world, come at the door of Greece and attempt to break through it? For this reason, he composed a work called ‘Ιστοριαι, meaning Inquiries, but more commonly translated as Histories.

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