Herodotus has been a subject of scholarly discussion for nearly two and a half millennia, yet nearly everything about his life and work is still open to scholarly debate. In the opening lines of Book 1 of his Historiai (Inquiries, in the root sense of the Greek Historiai), he identifies himself as “Herodotus of Halicarnassus, ” indicating that he came from Greek-speaking Ionia, in southwestern Asia Minor (now Bodrun, Turkey). He is believed to have been exiled from Halicarnassus in 457 B.C.E. for conspiring against Persian rule and to have exiled himself to the island of Samos. Around 447 he went to Athens, where he won the admiration of Pericles and other Athenian notables. In 444 or 443 he settled at the Panhellenic colony of Thurii in southern Italy, a migration that explains why some manuscripts refer to him as “Herodotus of Thurii.” He seems to have spent the remaining twenty years or so of his life at Thurii, where he completed his Historiai.
Herodotus's reputation as a “multicultural” writer is due especially to the extraordinary breadth of his geographical stage and to his talent as ethnographer as much as historian. The Historiae, which posterity has divided into nine books, might (somewhat artificially) be subdivided into books of “ethnography, ” in the modern sense, and books of “history.” Herodotus surely intended no such divisions, even though the “ethnography” books deal with substance that today's reader might consider more ethnographic than historical: the customs, legends, and everyday life of peoples in an area stretching eastward from the Pillars of Hercules to the Indus River, and northward from the Indian Ocean to central Russia. The “history” books deal, in a clearly epic manner, with the Persian