The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

PRO S-'A I C P E R I O D. 147

nected history. In many cases, as we have already seen, they were mere collections of local and genealogical traditions.1 The first Greek to whom the title of historian properly and truly belonged was Herodotus, the Homer of history.



herodotus ('HprfSoTos), .the earliest Greek historian (in the true sense of the term), was, according to his own statement at the beginning of his work, a native of Halicarnassus, a Doric city in Caria, which, at the time of his birth, was governed by Artemisia, a vassal-queen of the great king of Persia. Our information respecting the life of Herodotus is ex­tremely scanty, since, besides the meagre and confused article of Sui-das, there are only one or two passages of ancient writers that contain any direct notice of the life and age of the historian, and the rest must be gleaned from his own work. He was born about B.C. 484. His fami­ly was one of the most distinguished in Halicarnassus, and thus became involved'in the civil commotions of the city. Artemisia had been suc­ceeded by her son Pisindelis, and he, in his turn, by his son Lygdamis. This last-mentioned ruler was hostile to the family of Herodotus. He put to death Panyasis,3 who was probably the maternal uncle of the his­torian, and who will be mentioned hereafter as one of the restorers of epic poetry; and he obliged Herodotus himself to take refuge abroad. His flight must have taken place at an early age. Miiller places it about B.C. 452, but this is too late a period. Herodotus repaired to Samos, the Ionic island, where probably some of his kinsmen resided, since Panya­sis, too, is called a Samian. In Samos, he cultivated the Ionic dialect, and here too he imbibed the Ionic spirit which pervades his history. Be­fore he was thirty years of age, he joined in an attempt made from Samos to effect the liberation of his native city from the yoke of Lygdamis. The attempt proved successful; but the banishment of the tyrant did not give tranquillity to Halicarnassus, and Herodotus, who himself had become an object of dislike, again left his native country, and settled at Thurii, in Magna Grsecia, where, excepting the intervals of his travels, he spent the remainder of his life. Whether he went to Thurii with the first Athenian colonists, in B.C. 445, or whether he followed afterward, is a disputed point. The better opinion appears to be that he did not go with the first settlers to Thurii, but followed them many years after, perhaps about the time of the death of Pericles. The grounds for this opinion are a passage in his own work (v., 77), from which we must, in all proba­bility, infer that in B.C. 431, the year of the outbreak of the Peloponne-sian war, he was at Athens, for it appears from that passage that he saw

1 Thirlwall, Hist. Gr., ii., p. 126, seqq.; Miiller, Hist. Gr. Lit., p. 206, seqq.

2 Smith, Diet. Biogr., s. v.; Miiller, Hist. Gr. Lit., p. 266, seqq. 3 Suid., s. v. Ilavva<n<;,

About | Preface | Contents | Index



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.