Herodotus

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Herodotus lived from 484 to 425 BC. He was a Greek historian who is regarded as the father of history. His book Histories describes the Persian Wars.

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Famous Quotations

A freely adapted and translated quotation from Herodotus has become famous as the unofficial motto of the United States Post Office (now United States Postal Service). The monumental General Post Office building in New York, built in 1914, has a 280-foot frieze bearing an inscription selected by the architect:

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Herodotus was writing about the couriers of King Xerxes of Persia.

Style

Herodotus' style was largely typical of Grecian-Roman historiography: that is, an emphasis on the sensational, the mythical, and a downplay on verifiable facts. Histories were written largely for popular consumption, and they were not often intended as scholarly works, but as a preservation of popular myths at the time of the writing.

Examples of Herodotus' myth-centered history is his description of mythical beasts as inhabiting foreign lands (an example is the phoenix, which he treats as a real Egyptian animal).

However, recently, one of Herodotus' more far-fetched claims has been proven by modern science, specifically, DNA testing. Herodotus claims in his Histories that the Etruscans were an offshoot of a tribe of Turkish nomads, who left their ancestral home as an advance scouting party to look for safer, more readily cultivatable land, and, having arrived in Italy, founded the Etruscan civilization as a colony of their old tribe, which has since been lost to the ages. This claim was largely scorned by the Romans. Finding DNA corroboration of Herodotus' account was a sensational find for classical historians, suggesting that Herodotus' Histories may be more factual than before believed (at least with regards to human history, if not biology).[1]

References

  1. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/03/science/03etruscan.html?ex=1178337600&en=00778c1db4e835a5&ei=5070

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