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Herodotus - Ancient Greek Historian

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What is the main guiding principle of Herodotus' history? In his mind, how does he explain why historical events take place?

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Dear Student,
This solution seeks to explain the nature of Herodotus' method of historical inquiry & his take on human events. While his history is seen by many as flawed, he is unquestionably recognized by the Western world as the first Historian who established the need to inquire about events, cultures & people. To construct a more vivid view on Herodotus, I have referenced 3 web sources that I encourage you to visit. Good Luck & thank you for using BrainMass!

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Herodotus the first Historian

Known as the first Historian, much have been made on the veracity of the methods applied by Herodotus and his 9-book 'Histories', a collection of select historical data from the known world of his time. While Thucydides is seen by many as an objective & chronologically-inclined ancient Historian in his work on the Peloponnesian War, Herodotus' focus was to create an understanding of the known world during the Hellenistic period through his travels, access to various libraries from Macedonia to Egypt and a systematic manner of information gathering whereby prior to inclusion he applied methods of verification to the veracity of his sources, particularly data from the most far flung of places or data from distant past. He arranged all these in a vivid narrative, allowing the reader of his 'Histories' a colourful reincarnation of the past through his writings. Herodotus was inclined in creating 'maps', ancient representations of the known world to situate the event in question geographically. Much of the ancient world that we know today we owe to the writings of Herodotus and much of the criticism of his work stems from the very nature of it: vivid, almost firsthand accounts of ancient society that are not chronologically placed. The vivid description merits an almost ethnographical messiness to the texts, that the layering of stories allows social scientists to create patterns on the manner of Herodotus' writings providing an insight to his take on the nature of human events.

Like Thucydides, he provides particular speeches & documentaries when his sources allow it for political events. Unlike Thucydides though, while Herodotus' data collection was systematic, his histories allow for Hellenistic Myth influencing some of his recollections of events. A credit can be given though to the manner by which this myths surface --- ...

Solution Summary

Herodotus was one of the early pioneers of historical writing in antiquity, antedating Thucydides. As a historian he was geared towards creating a social & historical picture of a people, a culture or an event in the immediate lands & nations that influenced Athens and the Greek way of life. This solution looks at the guiding principles in Herodotus' historiographic practices as well as his views on what historical events represent.

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Herodotus: Life and Work

1-it should be only one page and comprised of two paragraphs. The first paragraph should be brief, no more than one fourth to one third of the page. It should quickly summarize the reading in a sentence or two and then present a short thesis statement which indicates what we are going to argue. In the second paragraph we should assess the reading critically.
2-Problems to avoid: Do not summarize the reading because that is not analysis. Avoid giving unsubstantiated personal opinions. An analysis requires a disciplined treatment of the evidence so that we can arrive at some understanding of the past; personal reactions refer to one's own personal assumptions and only tell us about ourselves, rather than the past. This is what historians call anachronism: the retrospective application of our values to the past.

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