An Account of Egypt
HERODOTUS (c. 484-425 B.C.), Greek historian, called the Father of History, was born at Halicarnassus in Asia Minor, then dependent upon the Persians, in or about the year 484 B.C. Herodotus was thus born a Persian subject, and such he continued until he was thirty or five-and-thirty years of age. At the time of his birth Halicarnassus was under the rule of a queen Artemisia. The year of her death is unknown; but she left her crown to her son Pisindelis (born about 498 B.C.), who was succeeded upon the throne by his son Lygdamis about the time that Herodotus grew to manhood. The family of Herodotus belonged to the upper rank of the citizens. His father was named Lyxes, and his mother Rhaeo, or Dryo. He had a brother Theodore, and an uncle or cousin Panyasis, the epic poet, a personage of so much importance that the tyrant Lygdamis, suspecting him of treasonable projects, put him to death. It is probable that Herodotus shared his relative's political opinions, and either was exiled from Halicarnassus or quitted it voluntarily at the time of his execution.
Of the education of Herodotus no more can be said than that it was thoroughly Greek, and embraced no doubt the three subjects essential to a Greek liberal education - grammar, gymnastic training and music. His studies would be regarded as completed when he attained the age of eighteen, and took rank among the eplzebi or eirenes of his native city. In a free Greek state he would at once have begun his duties as a citizen, and found therein sufficient employment for his growing energies. But in a city ruled by a tyrant this outlet was wanting; no political life worthy of the name existed. Herodotus may thus have had his thoughts turned to literature as furnishing a not unsatisfactory career, and may well have been encouraged in his choice by the example of Panyasis, who had already gained a reputation by his writings when Herodotus was still an infant. At any rate it is clear from the extant work of Herodotus that he must have devoted himself early to the literary life, and commenced that extensive course of reading which renders him one of the most instructive as well as one of the most charming of ancient writers. The poetical literature of Greece was already large; the prose literature was more extensive than is generally supposed; yet Herodotus shows an intimate acquaintance with the whole of it. The Iliad and the Odyssey are as familiar to him as Shakespeare to the educated Englishman. He is acquainted with the poems of the epic cycle, the Cypria, the Epigoni, &c. He quotes or otherwise shows familiarity with the writings of Hesiod, Olen, Musaeus, Bacis, Lysistratus, Archilochus of Paros, Alcaeus, Sappho, Solon, Aesop, Aristeas of Proconnesus, Simonides of Ceos, Phrynichus, Aeschylus and Pindar. He quotes and criticizes Hecataeus, the best of the prose writers who had preceded him, and makes numerous allusions to other authors of the same class.
- Auriel Media, November 2012
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