The Ancient Library

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On this page: Herodianus – Herodotus



citizens and heavy family calamities. He died at Marathon in 177. His pre-eminence as an orator was universally acknowledged by his contemporaries; he was called the king of orators, and was placed on a level with the great masters of antiquity. His reputation is hardly borne out by an unim­portant rhetorical exercise (On the Consti-ttttion) calling on the Thebans to join the Peloponnesians against Archelaus, king of Macedonia. This has come down to us under his name, but its genuineness is not free from doubt. Numerous inscriptions still remain to attest his ancient renown; and out of the number of his public buildings, there is still standing at Athens the Odeum, a theatre erected in memory of his wife Regilla.

Herodlairas. (1) A Greek historian, about 170-240 a.d., who lived (for a time at any rate) in Rome, and filled offices both at court and in the state. We still possess his history of the Roman emperors, from the death of Marcus Aurelius to the acces­sion of Gordianus III (180-238); it is dis­tinguish od by its impartiality, and its clear and pleasing style.

(2) &lius Herodldnus. A Greek scholar, son of Apollonlus Dyscolus (q.v.), born at Alexandria; he flourished in the second half of the 2nd century a.d., and after the completion of his education, went to Rome, where he long lived in confidential intercourse with Marcus Aurelius, and re­ceived the Roman citizenship. He died in his native town. In a large number of treatises he extended in every direction the work begun by his father in the investiga­tion of grammar, and in reducing it to a sys­tematic form. Of his activity as an author numerous evidences have come down to us in the shape of extensive fragments of his works.

Her6d6tus. The famous Greek historian, called the Father of History, born about 490-480 b.c., at Halicarnassus in Asia Minor. He was of noble family, being the son of Lyxes and Dryo (or Rhoio). Like his uncle, the poet Panyasis (q.v.), he fled in 460 to the island of Samos, having been expelled from his native town by the tyrant Lygdamis. From this spot he seems to have completed his great travels, which he had already begun when at Halicarnassus. These travels were most extensive: he tra­versed Asia Minor, the interior of Asia nearly as far as Susa, the Greece-Asiatic islands, Egypt as far as Elephantine, Gyrene, the shores of the Euxine as far as

the Caucasus and the mouth of the Danube, as well as Greece and the neighbouring countries. Having returned with his uncle to Halicamassus, he took part in the expul­sion of Lygdamis (about 450), but, probably in consequence of political intrigues, he fell into disgrace with his fellow townsmen, and was again compelled to quit his native country.

In 445 he betook himself to Athens in order to take part in the projected colonization of Thurii in Southern Italy. Here he gave public readings from the works which he had begun to compose in Samos (probably the portions relating to the Persian War). They met with such applause that he was rewarded with a pre­sent of ten talents (£2,000) from the public treasury. He is also said to have given similar recitations elsewhere—at the festal assembly of the Greeks at Olympia, and also at Corinth and Thebes. We are told that at one of these recitals Thucydides was present as a boy, and was so affected that he shed tears and resolved to devote himself to the writing of history. [See, however, Dahlmann's Life of Herodotus, chap, ii, sect, ii.] Herodotus was in close intercourse with the leading men of the day. In Athens, which he seems to have often visited, after having settled at Thurii (443), he knew Pericles and the poet Sophocles, who composed a special poem in his honour in 442. It was doubtless there that he was prompted to mould the materials of his history into a complete and artistic whole. He carried forward this plan at Thurii; but it is probable that his death, which occurred about 424, prevented his finishing his grand design.

This work (which the Alexandrine critics divided into nine books, named after the nine Muses), marks the beginning of real historical writing among the Greeks. The industry of the earlier historical writers (known as LOgogrdphi, q.v.} had contented itself with collecting material for a limited purpose, such as histories of towns and families, arranged in an uncritical and inar­tistic manner. It is the merit of Herodotus, that, by his study of the existing literature and by his travels, he collected historical, geographical, and ethnographical materials relating to the greater part of the then known world, that he sifted them with some critical discernment, that he arranged them under leading topics, and set them forth in an original and attractive form. The true scope of the work, which em-

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