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The “Hero” Who Created the Past

Past, when we talk about the past, the very first term that comes in our minds is History (for some it may be the most boring term!!). But everyone wants to know (the students wants to know!!) who is the “visionary” who invented the subject? Well, his name also starts with “H”, the one and only – Herodotus (again a Greek). But his journey in acquiring his position was not easy (That is why he is addressed as a “hero” in this article) as Arnaldo Marmigliano, a historian, states that it is strong truth that Herodotus has become the father of history only in the modern times .

Herodotus was born at Halicarnassus around 484 BC. There is no source available about his family. The town in which he lived felled in Persian Empire, and it may be that young Herodotus heard local eye-witness accounts of events within the empire and also of the preparations of the Persians to invade Greece (Oral histories were very important). Herodotus wrote Histories (his first book as historian) in the Ionian dialect, which he learned as a boy living on the islands of Samos. As the historian used to travel to faraway places in order to collect records and other sources so as to support their research works(Obviously, there were no internet connections available in 400 BC, with 5G services surpassing 4G in 2019 CE) as history just like law needs evidences to support various arguments.

Herodotus accounts indicates that he must have travelled to Egypt in association with Athenians, probably after 454 BC. He probably travelled to Tyre, then down the Euphrates to Babylon (most famous city of Mesopotamia, yet declines by this time). In his accounts, he has probably included many of the oral testimonies of the Graeco-Persian war and other important events. He also tried to make his researches and works known to the larger population by taking his finished work to Anatolia, where the Olympic Games were taking place (such a big platform to start, hats off to the confidence) and narrated his whole work to the audience but do not got applauded for it as he waited for the clouds to provide him shade while he will narrate his work and when he started his narration the whole audience were dismissed as the games were over. He played a role of both a narrator and a listener (As there is a very famous phrase which says “Herodotus and his shade”). The accuracy of the woks of Herodotus has been controversial since his own era. He, like other ancient historians, preferred the element of show, to purely analytic history, aiming to give pleasure with exciting events, great dramas and bizarre exotica. Cicero, Aristotle and Plutarch were among the most prominent philosophers who commented on his works (How can we forget such famous critics who were considered jack of all trades at that time when we are talking about the western history). Plutarch calls him of being a pro-barbaric or pro-foreigner (so much patriotism at that time) as he wrote the history of distant lands and assumed them equal to that of the Greeks.


Modern historians and philosophers take a more positive view on paradigm of objective historical writing and also his focus on explanation of specific event. As he has also nurtured comparative anthropology and ethnography. He was honored by financial reward by Athenian government for his work (finally first award). He has discussed in his each and every research, the reason or cause for an event (base of history). He might have died because of outbreak of plague in the city of Macedonia (land of mighty heroes). Herodotus, as his name explains, was not only the father of history but also hero who created the past and a new way to look at it. History became the window through which we could see the future and work for betterment of our respected lives. Now, he has achieved a unforgettable place in history, though he can precisely be regarded as the father of western history (as our country still has sources of history which date way back from the first accounts of Herodotus, still a Hero?).

Snehal Asthana

Author is I Semester Students of BA LLB (H), in University School of Law and Legal Studies, Gurugobind Singh Indraprastha University, Dwarka, New Delhi. She did her schooling from Air Force Golden Jubilee Institute, Subroto Park, New Delhi. She is keen to write article based on history. She has written many book review too.

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