Herodotus - Vol. 1

Herodotus - Vol. 1

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Herodotus - Vol. 1

Herodotus - Vol. 1

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Excerpt

Herodotus, the oldest of the Greek historians, and called by Cicero the 'Father of History,' was born at Halicarnassus in Caria, an extensive town of Asia Minor, 484 years before Christ. His father's name was Lyxes, and that of his mother Dryo: he was of an illustrious family, originally Dorian, and both his parents were of high estate, according to Strabo, who also mentions that he had an only brother named Theodorus.

The celebrated historians Hellanicus and Thucydides florished nearly at the same time, which was about four years before Xerxes invaded Greece.

Herodotus, when grown up, was driven from his native city, and fixed his abode in Samoscount of the tyranny and oppression of Lygdamis, who had caused his uncle Panyasis to be put to death; but it does not appear whether he was expelled or voluntarily retired from Halicarnassus. During his exile he travelled through Greece, Egypt, Asia, Scythia, Thrace and Macedonia; and during his sojourn at Samos he found leisure to arrange his materials and to form the plan for writing his history. Halicarnassus was not at this time wanting in citizens discontented with the tyranny of Lygdamis, and Herodotus having received intelligence of a patriotic design to expel the tyrant, left Samos and hastened to join the conspiracy. On his arrival he dedicated his talents and experience to the cause; and succeeded, at the head of a formidable party, in dethroning the tyrant. Halicarnassus was again free, and the people restored to that liberty which, independently of revenging his uncle's death, was the chief object of our historian's constant wishes. Faction and cabal however soon disgraced the cause he had espoused, and he was obliged to leave his country a second time, and to seek protection in Greece, which soon became the noble theatre of his glory.

Having attained his thirty-ninth year, a generous desire of fame led him publicly to recite a portion of his history to the people, then assembled at the Olympic games, and which was received with such universal applause, that die names of the nine Muses were unanimously given to the nine books into which it is divided.

The history, according to Dionysius Halicarnassensis, contains the most remarkable occurrences within a period of 240 years, from the reign of Cyrus, the first king of Persia, to that of Xerxes, when the historian was living. The work, as we have intimated, is divided into nine books, named after the nine Muses. The first book, Clio, treats of the transfer of the kingdom of Lydia from Gyges into the hands of Crœsus; the minority of Cyrus, and his subsequent overthrow of the unwieldy Lydian empire: it also notices the rising greatness of the powerful republics of Athens and Lacedæmon. The second book, the Euterpe, gives a copious and judicious account of Egypt; of Egyptian customs and manners, and a long dissertation on the succession of their kings. The third, the Thalia, contains an account of the exploits and achievements of Cambyses, and particularly of the subjugation of the whole of Egypt by that capricious and tyrannical monarch; and finally, records the election of . . .
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