To what extend is Herodotus the father of history?

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Herodotus is considered the father of history in that he effectively invented the subject as an academic discipline. He laid the foundations of history as a systematic study, with rigorous standards of research and scholarship. Before Herodotus arrived on the scene, history as we know it today didn't really exist....

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Herodotus is considered the father of history in that he effectively invented the subject as an academic discipline. He laid the foundations of history as a systematic study, with rigorous standards of research and scholarship. Before Herodotus arrived on the scene, history as we know it today didn't really exist. When writers wrote about historical events, truth tended to be mixed in with fable, myth, and legend, making it impossible for anyone to get the full picture about any particular historical epoch.

That's not to say that Herodotus's work was entirely free of mythical elements. The main criticism leveled at Herodotus down the centuries has been that he was too ready to believe the many tales and legends told to him on his extensive travels without checking their veracity. It was such lapses in fact-checking that led some critics to call Herodotus "The Father of Lies."

Nonetheless, Herodotus's work, despite its many shortcomings, is generally reliable and shows a remarkably close affinity with what today would be regarded as sound historical scholarship. Herodotus's considerable talents as a storyteller are put to good use in drawing the reader in to the historical events he describes in such colorful detail.

In this regard, Herodotus was the forerunner of an approach to historiography that seeks to heighten our awareness of history by enabling us to put ourselves in the shoes of certain characters from history. This empathetic approach is still followed to this day by numerous historians, all of whom owe a considerable debt—whether they acknowledge it or not—to the father of history.

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