The Ancient Library

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On this page: Heron – Heroon – Herophile – Heros



braces a period of 320 years down to the battle of Mycale (479), is the struggle be­tween the Greeks and the barbarians; with this leading thread of his narrative are inwoven, in a countless number of episodes, descriptions of the countries and races, more or less closely connected with the principal events of the story, so that the result is a complete picture of the known world as it then existed. In subordination to this general object, the whole narrative is inspired with the one guiding thought, that all history is determined by a moral


yvernment of the world, ordained by a rovidence which rules the destinies of man ; and that every exaltation of man above the limits fixed by the eternal law of heaven excites the jealousy of the gods, and draws down an avenging Nemesis on the head of the guilty one himself, or his descendants.

His veracity shows itself in the sharp distinction he draws between personal ob­servation, oral information, and mere con­jecture; his impartiality, his just recogni­tion of praiseworthy qualities (even on the side of the enemy), is displayed in his frank censure of political or moral failings which he thinks he perceives in his friends; while his nobility of character is evinced by his hearty delight in all that is good and beautiful.

Although by race Herodotus belonged to the Dorians, he nevertheless made use of the Ionic dialect which had been em­ployed by his predecessors, the I6g6graphl, though at times he mingles it with Epic, Doric, and Attic forms. His simplicity of style recalls that of the logographi, but he far excels them in clearness and general intelligibility of composition, in a pleasing flow of language, in an epic, and often even redundant, fulness of expression, and above all in a genius for narrative, which he shows in the vivid description of the most diverse events.—A biography of Homer, written in the Ionic dialect, bears the name of Herodotus; it is really the work of a rhetorician at the beginning of the 1st century of our era.

Heron. A Greek mathematician of Alex­andria, about the middle of the 3rd century b.c., the well-known inventor of Heron's ball and Heron's fountain. Of his Intro­duction to Mechanics, the most comprehen­sive work of antiquity on the theory of that science, only extracts are preserved in Pappus. We also possess his disquisitions on presses, on the contrivance of automa-

tons, and on the construction of catapults and other engines for projectiles.

Herodn. The shrine of a hero. (See herds.)

HerSphUe. The Erythraean Sibyl. (See


Heros (Gr.). A hero. This is in Homer a descriptive title given specially to princes and nobles, but also applied to men of mark sprung from the people. Hesiod reserves the name for mortals of divine origin, who are therefore also known as demigods. Many of these he places on the Islands of the Blessed, where under the sovereignty of Gr5nus (Kr6n6s), they lead a life of happiness. Hesiod makes no allusion to the influence of heroes upon the life of man, or to the worship due to them in consequence. But in later times this belief spread throughout the whole of Greece. The heroes are in most respects like men and suffer death; but death puts them in a more exalted rank, and they then have power to do men good as well as harm. The most distin­guished warriors of prehistoric times were accounted heroes, being generally regarded as the offspring of gods by mortal women ; to their souls another destiny was accord­ingly assigned than that allotted to the souls of mortals. But even amongst the heroes of old time there were some who, without being children of the gods, never­theless so distinguished themselves by their virtue, that they appeared to participate in the divine nature, and therefore to deserve a higher distinction after death. Even in later times such men were not unknown, when personages recently deceased were actually exalted to the ranks of heroes, as in the case of Leonldas at Sparta, and Har-mSdius and AristSgeiton at Athens. The founders of colonies were especially con­sidered worthy of worship as heroes; when the true founder was unknown, then some appropriate hero was selected instead. Formerly there were many such fictitious heroes; to this class properly belong all the titular ancestors of the noble and priestly families of Attica, and the founders of particular arts and trades, as Dsedalus. Many heroes of historical times were ori­ginally gods, who, in course of time, were divested of their primitive dignity. There was no town or district of Greece in which a host of heroes was not worshipped by the side of the higher divinities ; many as special tutelary spirits of the country, others as the heroes of the country, as the Dioscuri at Sparta, the jEicidse at JEgina, and

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All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.