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NIHIL NOVUM SUB SOLE

1001 deeds, sayings, curiosities and anecdotes of the ancient world

History had a father

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The man is a being with memory of the past, at some point began the conscious reflection on the past. We also owe to the Greeks "History" as a literary genre and as a science.

The man is a being with memory of the past, at some point began the conscious reflection on the past. We also owe to the Greeks "History" as a literary genre and as a science.

By its own definition, history is the study and knowledge of the past of human beings from the moment that writing appears, in the late fourth millennium BC. The study and knowledge of mankind  and its  predecessors (bipedal hominid date from several million years) is called Prehistory (Latin prae = before).

The very first written documents were accounts, reference numbers, contracts, commemorative stone plaques and religious writings. In fact, written literature  took a long time to appear, and historical writings came even later, i.e., reflections on men own deeds.

The Greek Herodotus, who was born around 484 BC in Halicarnassus, a town placed at Caria on the coast of Asia Minor, is considered and called the “Father of history”. The word “history” derives from the Greek word ιστορειν (historein) meaning “to ask, to inquire”. It is that search that inspired  Herodotus’s travel across the East and the Mediterranean, where he observed  the monuments and customs of the people and inquired asking about the past. The result of his “investigations” are thus a litany of his personal “stories”, which contain  a miscellany of facts, data, curiosity and traditions. 

Although  a man of his time, Herodotus refused to blindly accept oral and written sources; rather he often has criticisms and raises doubts. There is little doubt that he both acquired and employed this method while he was in contact with Athenian sophists. Hence, he is rightly considered "the Father of the history" as a new literary expresses  genre and as a new science. However, the second century AD philosopher Plutarch  unfairly call Herodotus “the father of lies".

In his works, Herodotus’s main interest is to recant  the "Greco-Persian Wars" between the Greeks and the Persian (who are the “Medes”, named after one of the peoples inhabiting ancient Persia), a conflict that he presented as a conflict between Greek freedom and Persian tyranny, between Hellene democracy and Median absolutism, and in short, as a conflict between West and East.

Judging by the current conflicts around the globe it is clear that this  conflict is still embedded in Europe's cultural genetics and has yet to be resolved.

   
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