Father of History: Know about Herodotus

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Jan 12, 2022, 17:08

In the Western world, Herodotus is known as the father of history. He was the author of the very first authoritative historical text. He earned this title from the Roman statesman Cicero. His multi-volume account is filled with various informative digressions of the Greco-Persian Wars. 

About the First Historian

Very little is known about the first historian, Herodotus. He was from the city of Halicarnassus, which is now situated in Turkey, and was previously a part of the Persian Empire. Herodotus travelled a lot, venturing into Egypt and then visiting Athens, various parts of the middle east, including Syria and Babylon. He reaches as far as the Danube river and the Black sea.

On his travels, he interviewed many locals and collected written accounts. Herodotus was known to be a curious man. He practised the simple method of writing down everything that he heard from these people. Herodotus was sometimes criticized for various outright confabulations. In one of the accounts, he spoke about a headless man that had his eye on his chest in Libya. He also wrote about gold-digging ants in India. At that point in time, it was quite unclear whether Herodotus was telling the truth or simply making up stories.

Herodotus Works

Due to a fine line of difference between fact and fiction, Herodotus' writings faced a lot of criticism. However, other historians like Thucydides clearly drew inspiration from historians like Herodotus. Some state that the work of Herodotus was biased, particularly in favour of the non-greeks. Today scholars tend to have a more balanced view of his writings. 

Herodotus was known to correct all the inaccuracies found in his writing before sharing it with the world. He had a conflicting account of the events relayed by the Epic poet Homer. The Trojan war was supposedly instigated when Trojans kidnapped Helen, the wife of the Spartan King. But according to Herodotus' writing, Helen was known to be in Egypt the whole time. Herodotus frequently provided diversions into such legends.

Herodotus provided various lengthy descriptions of military engagements that defined the course of history. Such narratives qualified his work as one of the most valuable historical writings.

The Contributions of the Father of History

Herodotus provided us with various insights into the civilization of ancient Egypt, Assyria, Scythia, and Persia. His were some of the oldest works that existed in the world. His work was found to be relevant even 2500 years after his death, as most historians read his accounts to understand the then civilization and culture in Egypt. 

The Father of History in India

Due to his pioneering work of recording various ethnographic observations in India, Megasthenes is considered the father of Indian history. His works are compiled into a volume called 'INDIKA'. In ancient Greek, the word 'INDIKA' represents various things related to India. 

Megasthenes arrived in India sometime between 302 BCE and 288 BCE. He happened to be the first foreign ambassador to India and was sent by Seleucus. The Hellenistic king sent him to the Mauryan emperor Chandragupta. During that time, he stayed in the state of Patliputra and wrote about then-India. His works detailed the political arrangements that the Indian ruler made and how he unified them under one administration. He also described details related to the people, climate, land, and even the fertility of the soil. His original work was somehow lost. He is only mentioned in fragments in Latin and Greek words in the contemporary world.

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FAQs about Father of History

  • Who is known as the 'Father of History?

Herodotus is known as the Father of History.

  • What did Herodotus write about?

Herodotus wrote about the incidents that took place during his time in Egypt and Middle Eastern countries like Babylon, Persia, etc.

  • Who is known as the Indian Father of History?

Megasthenes is known as the Indian Father of History due to his pioneering work of recording ethnographic observations as the first foreign ambassador to India.