Herodotus: “Father of History” or “Father of Lies”
Herodotus was among the first Greek Natural philosophers and lived from 490 to 425 B.C. He was a great story teller and many of his listeners had an opinion of whether the information he presented was true fact or purely fable. Cicero referred to Herodotus as the “father of history” however there were also many who designate him as the “father of lies”. I side with Cicero and suggest that Herodotus was the “father of history”.
Herodotus stated that his purpose of relating stories was “to preserve the memory of the past by recording the amazing achievements of the Greeks and also foreign peoples, and in addition the reason they went to war with one another” (267). This was a hefty mission statement made by a man that one can surely deduce had a love and respect for history. In this statement Herodotus designated himself as “father of history”. Herodotus remarked that he considered it “his duty” to “report what people say, but I do not always feel obliged to believe it” (267). This admission exposes that fact that Herodotus admits that all of the knowledge he offers in stories is not his own, thus proving the fact that he was the “father of history” and that any lies that were inadvertently told belonged to his sources of information and were surely not his own. This statement served as a personal disclaimer and reminds me of the American saying “don’t shoot the messenger”. Many of those who designate Herodotus as the “father of lies” are blaming him for inaccuracies that he reported while forgetting that he was only the messenger and did not compile the information himself. For example, Herodotus reported that the Persian army that rallied to fight against Greece was “numbered no less than 2,641,610 fighting men” (285). The Knox text suggests that Herodotus inferred this number from a document that in effect was an army enrollment list. I suggest that his misrepresentation...