The ancient Greek historian Herodotus is often called the Father of History.
Why? It’s quite simple.
Herodotus was the first person who showed the forethought and skills necessary to systematically collect the stories he heard, verify their accuracy and put them together in an intriguing narrative.
As far as we know, he was the first person to scientifically document the history of the world. His Histories has always been considered the world’s first piece of true historical writing. This is why Cicero first referred to him as Herodotus, Father of History and the name has since stuck.
But we can go deeper than that. Here are some reasons why Herodotus still retains the prestigious title to this day.
Herodotus’ fantastic journeys through not only Greece, but also Egypt, Babylonia and most of the important cities in Asia Minor gave him the opportunity to meticulously collect first hand stories, descriptions and geographic information.
People told him stories of war, ancient people and places, and things that had taken place before his birth.
Of course, Herodotus wasn’t the only one who heard these stories. But he seems to have been different from those who came before him. He not only listened, he took notes.
Then he cohesively wove the stories together into his collection of ‘Inquiries’ – a word that has since been translated into the term histories.
Detail in Reporting
Many of Herodotus’ stories told of the drama, bravery, and personalities of the Greco-Persian Wars.
What further set Herodotus apart was the detail he put into his narratives – names of people and places and specific, in-depth information about those characters and locations.
No writer had achieved this level of detail before Herodotus came along. His descriptions of those people and places set him apart and made his work the gold standard of world history reporting.
Herodotus is called the Father of History also because his vivid stories painted an accurate picture of the time and place in which they lived.
His narratives set him apart from earlier writers because he described the development of civilization and the conflicts between Persia and Greece in a coherent, easy-to-follow manner.
His well-constructed, easy-to-follow works reflect a commitment to accuracy and detail. He set a standard for the conveying of information that would serve as a benchmark for later historians.
A Great Storyteller
Herodotus wasn’t just a anthropologist who spent his time collecting cold, hard facts. Part of his brilliance lies in the way he was able to share this information.
He earned the title Father of History in part for his great skill as a storyteller. While he admitted he was telling stories told to him by others, his stories gave a level of detail that only an eyewitness would know.
Herodotus, Father of History
Herodotus hoped to help preserve the memory of the past. He recorded astonishing achievements and showed their conflicts in great detail. He refined the stories told to him, often adding facts he found on his travels throughout Greece, Asia Minor and the Middle East. And he was the first to weave the stories into one narrative.
Plus, the discipline of history still bears the name that Herodotus gave it. Even if we doubt some of his findings, he is and will always be the Father of History.
About Herodotus' Histories
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who lived from circa 484 BC to circa 425 BC. He is famous for writing the Histories, a book that contrasted Greece and Persia by telling the story of the Greco-Persian Wars.
Herodotus' Histories is the world's first piece of true historical writing, and HerodotusHistories.com is its home online. This website has all the information and resources you'll ever need on Herodotus and Herodotus' Histories.