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Herodotus of Halicarnassus

Herodotus (Ἡρόδοτος, Herodotos; circa 484 - circa 425-420 BC), often referred to as "the Father of History" [1], was a Greek historian born in Halicarnassus, Caria (today Bodrum, Turkey) [2].

What little is known of his life has mostly been surmised from direct and indirect clues in his only surviving work Histories (Ἱστορίαι, Istoria, which in Ancient Greek meant Enquiries), and there has been much speculation and debate about his family background, travels, writings, political activities and death. He and his work were mentioned by several ancient writers, but few extant texts include biographical details. The summary of his life in the Suda (Σοῦδα), a Byzantine encyclopedia written in Greek in the 10th - 11th centuries AD (probably around 970 AD), is thought by many scholars to be questionable.

"Herodotus, son of Lyxus and Dryo; of Halicarnassus; one of the notables [3]; and he had a brother called Theodorus. He migrated to Samos because of Lygdamis, who was the third tyrant of Halicarnassus after Artemisia: Pisindelis was the son of Artemisia, and Lygdamis the son of Pisindelis [4].

In Samos he practised the Ionian dialect and wrote a history in nine books, beginning with Cyrus the Persian and Candaules the king of the Lydians.

He went back to Halicarnassus and drove out the tyrant; but later, when he saw that he was the object of spite on the citizens' part, he voluntarily went to Thurii [in southern Italy] which was being colonized by Athenians, and after he died there he was buried in the agora. But some say that he died in Pella. His books bear the inscription of the Muses.

Concerning Herodotos, the Transgressor says in a letter [5]: 'Who, then, does not know what the Ethiopians said about our most nourishing food? They touched a barley-cake and said they were amazed that we lived by eating dung, if the wordsmith of Thurii can be believed. Those who describe the inhabited world relate that there are races of fish-eaters and flesh-eaters, men who do not dream of our food and diet. [6] If any one of us tries to emulate their diet, he will fare no better than those who take hemlock, aconite, or hellebore.'"

Suda, Ἡρόδοτος, eta, 536. At Suda On Line.

Although here his mother is named Dryo, the Suda entry for the epic poet Panyassis mentions claims that Herodotus was either a cousin or nephew Panyassis, and calls his mother Rhoea, who was perhaps the sister of the poet. The Panyassis entry and an inscription mentioned by Stephanus Byzantius (see below) also state that Herodotus' father was Lyxes, perhaps the brother of Panyassis' father Polyarchus.

The statement that Herodotus practised Ionian Greek while in exile in Samos, which had been settled by Ionic Greeks, has often been seen to infer that he did not speak or write in the dialect beforehand, although it seems that it was the prevalent language in Halicarnassus [7].

Where and when he wrote the Histories is a much-debated question. The Suda says that he wrote it in Samos, while according to other theories it was written much later, perhaps in Thurii (see below). It may be that the entire work was written over a long period of time, perhaps in several drafts or versions. Obviously he could have only have completed the final version after the events he narrates had occurred, the latest being around 430 BC, and after he had completed his travels to the places described.

No other known ancient source mentions that Herodotus was ever in the Macedonian city Pella, although the Suda elsewhere claims that he was the guest of Amyntas, king of Macedon, presumably Amyntas I (Ἀμύντας Aʹ, ruled circa 547-498 BC), along with the historian Hellanikos of Mytilene (Ἑλλάνικος ὁ Μυτιληναῖος, circa 490/480-400 BC).

"Hellanikos spent time with Herodotus at the [court of] Amyntas, king of the Macedonians, during the time of Euripides and Sophocles."

Suda, Ἑλλάνικος, epsilon, 739. At Suda On Line.

This claim has been challenged on a number of grounds, not the least of which is the fact that Pella is not thought to have been an important place during the lifetime of Herodotus, and only became the capital of Macedonia around 406 BC. It has been suggested that if Herodotus and Hellanikos were in Pella it is more likely to have been during the reign of Archelaos I (Ἀρχέλαος Α΄, ruled 413-399 BC), who moved the royal residence and capital from Aigai (today Vergina) to Pella. The reign of Amyntas I is too early and that of Archelaos I too late for the conventionally accepted dates for Herodotus' life, which would leave Alexander I (498-454 BC), Alketas II (454-448 BC) or Perdiccas II (448-413 BC). It is not clear whether the Suda entry is suggesting that Euripides (circa 480-406 BC) and Sophocles (497/6 BC-406/5 BC) were also in Macedonia. Euripides is thought to have lived there, but not Sophocles.

Herodotus was the first author known to have mentioned Pella (Histories, Book 7, chapter 123), although only as part of a list of cities in areas passed by the Persian fleet during Xerxes' invasion of Greece in 480 BC.

There is a little more literary support for the ancient tradition that Herodotus went to Athens [8], where he is said to have read the Histories in public in 445 BC:

"Herodotus was honoured for reading his books in the assembly at Athens."

Jerome, Chronicle, 83rd Olympiad. [9]

The critical essay On the malice of Herodotus, attributed to Plutarch, cited a report by the historian Diyllus (Δίυλλος) that the Athenians passed a decree to award Herodotus the enormous sum of 10 talents (10 Attic talents = 60,000 drachmae, around 260 kilograms of gold or silver; the daily wage for an artisan was 1 drachma [10]). The works of Diyllus have not survived, and the author of the essay doubts that Herodotus gave readings to the Athenians on the grounds that they would have noticed errors in his narrative, but accuses him of flattering them in the Histories for financial gain.

"But this helps Herodotus to refute the crime with which he is charged, of having flattered the Athenians for a great sum of money he received of them. For if he had rehearsed these things to them, they would not have omitted or neglected to notice that Philippides, when on the ninth he called the Lacedaemonians to the fight, must have come from it himself, since (as Herodotus says) he went in two days from Athens to Sparta; unless the Athenians sent for their allies to the fight after their enemies were overcome.

Indeed Diyllus the Athenian, none of the most contemptible as an historian, says, that he received from Athens a present of ten talents, Anytus proposing the decree."

Plutarch, On the malice of Herodotus, section 26 [11].

Both Lucian of Samosata (circa 125 - after 180 AD) [12] and the Suda report that he also gave a reading at Olympia. The story in the Suda that the young Thucydides was moved to tears by the performance was also mentioned by Markellinos (Μαρκελλῖνος, around the 6th century AD), who does not mention the location:

"At Olympia, while still a child, he [Thucydides] heard Herodotus reciting the histories he had written, and he was so moved with enthusiasm that his eyes filled with tears. When Herodotus recognized the boy's nature he addressed his father Oloros: 'I pronounce you blessed for this wonderful child, Oloros. For your son has a soul passionate for learning.' And he was not mistaken in this pronouncement."

Suda, Θουκυδίδης, theta, 414. At Suda On Line.

"And so it is said, that once when Herodotus was making a display of his own history, Thucydides was present at the recital and, hearing it, wept. Thereupon, they say, Herodotus noticing, said to Olorus the father of Thucydides, 'O Olorus, truly the nature of your son is violently bent toward learning.'"

Markellinos, Life of Thucydides, section 54. [13]

From Athens Herodotus is said to have joined the Athenian-led establishment of the pan-Hellenic colony of Thurii (Θούριοι) in southern Italy around 444-443 BC. Both Aristotle and Plutarch refer to him as "Herodotus of Thurii":

"The style must be either continuous and united by connecting particles, like the dithyrambic preludes, or periodic, like the antistrophes of the ancient poets. The continuous style is the ancient one; for example, 'This is the exposition of the investigation of Herodotus of Thurii'."

Aristotle, Rhetoric, Book 3, chapter 9. At Perseus Digital Library.

"And whereas we meet with this title, 'This publication of the History of Herodotus of Halicarnassus', many have changed it into Herodotus of Thurii, for he dwelt at Thurii, and was a member of that colony."

Plutarch, De exilio, section 13. At Perseus Digital Library.


In the 6th century AD, Stephanus Byzantius claimed that Herodotus' tomb was to be seen in the agora of Thurii with the inscribed epigram:

"This dust covers the dead Herodotus, son of Lyxes, the lord of Ionian ancient history, who flourished in exile from his Dorian homeland; for having fled from the insufferable criticism of its citizens he had Thurion as his homeland."

Stephanus Byzantius, Ethnika, Θούριοι [14]

Because Herodotus' references to the early years of the Peloponnesian War indicate intimate knowledge of the events, it has been speculated that at some point he returned to Athens, and it has even been suggested that he may have died there of the plague which also killed Pericles in the autumn of 429 BC. Markellinos, perhaps a near contemporary of Stephanus Byzantius, wrote that Herodotus' tomb stood near those of Thucydides and the family of Kimon at the Melitian Gate, on the west side of Athens:

"For at the Melitian Gate, in Koile, there are monuments called Cimonia, where the tomb of Herodotus and Thucydides can be seen."

Markellinos, Life of Thucydides, section 17. [15]


The Histories

"Here are presented the results of the enquiry of Herodotus of Halicarnassus, so that things done by man not be forgotten in time, and that great and marvellous deeds, some produced by the Hellenes, some by the barbarians, not lose their glory, including among others what was the cause of their waging war on each other."

The title of the Histories of Herodotus.

The Histories, written in Ionic Greek [see note 7] around 460-420 BC, is the account of the wars between the Persians and the Greeks during the 6th - 5th centuries BC, but also includes historical and geographical background information, mentions of myths, legends, oracles and anecdotes. The scope of the work is vast and ambitious, as he discusses the histories, beliefs and aspects of the lifestyles of Greeks, Medes, Persians, Egyptians and other peoples from the eastern Mediterranean, through Central Asia to India.

The entire book has survived, although like many ancient works it has been copied and recopied by hand and perhaps edited at some point over the centuries. The division of the work into nine books, each titled with the name of one of the nine muses, may be a later modification. [16]

The accuracy and even the veracity of many of Herodotus' statements have been doubted by ancient and modern authors. He was usually careful to differentiate between what he saw and experienced himself and what other people told him during his travels through Greece, Asia and Egypt, sometimes expressing his opinions on such reports. A great deal of what he wrote has been confirmed by modern archaeologists and historians, in some matters it seems he was misinformed or misunderstood information he received, and the truth or otherwise of many of his claims may never be discovered.

Histories is one of the most important surviving literary sources of information about the history of ancient Greece to the Classical period, and one of the most often quoted. The book is very readable, informative and often entertaining, and has long been a must-read for anyone interested in the ancient history of Europe and the Middle East.

A number of other ancient Greek authors before and after Herodotus also wrote histories, most of which have survived only as fragments, quotes or mentions by later writers. Two of his most important immediate successors, whose works have survived, were Thucydides and Xenophon of Athens.

Marble head of Herodotus in the Agora Museum, Athens, Greece at My Favourite Planet

Marble head of Herodotus.
2nd century AD. [17]

The head of Pentelic marble, 45 cm high,
was found in 1993 built into a modern
house just south of the Stoa of Attalos,
in the Athenian Agora. It is thought to
have been part of a draped statue
which stood in a library or gymnasium.

Agora Museum, Athens. Inv. No. S 270.

Portrait of Herodotus in Berlin at My Favourite Planet

Marble head of Herodotus.
2nd century AD Roman period copy
of a Greek original of the late 5th or
early 4th century BC. From Italy.
Height, including modern bust 40.5 cm.

Neues Museum, Berlin. Inv. No. Sk 295.

Purchased in 1766 by the art dealer
Giovanni Ludovico Bianconi from the
Natali Collection, Rome, for Friedrich II
of Prussia's palace at Potsdam. Entered
the Berlin museum in 1830.

These are two of the best-known types
of bust of Herodotus. In the badly-worn
Athens bust, he appears older, with
deeper furrows in the forehead and lines
beneath the eyes. In comparison, the
Berlin head seems to be of a much
younger man. Another type of bust,
discovered at Athritis (modern Benha),
Lower Egypt and now in the Metropolitan
Musem of Art, New York, shows him
between these ages: middle-aged and
somewhat more serious.

All the busts (including a double-herm
of Herodotus and Thucydides in Naples,
see photos below) appear to show the
same person, with a high-brow and a
beard ending in two parted, conical coils.

Marble bust of Herodotus in Naples at My Favourite Planet

Marble herm bust of Herodotus, with
his name ΗΔΡΟΔΟΤΟΣ inscribed on
the front of the herm shaft.

3rd century AD copy of a 4th century BC
Greek original. Height 48 cm.

National Archaeological Museum, Naples.
Inv. No. 6146. From the Farnese Collection.

Alabaster vase from Halicarnassus inscribed with the name of Xerxes at My Favourite Planet

Alabaster vase from Halicarnassus
with the name "Xerxes, the Great King"
inscribed in three lines of cuneiform
characters in the Persian, Median and
Assyrian languages, and below in
Egyptian hieroglyphics with a cartouche.

Made in Egypt 485-465 BC. Found at
the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus in
1857 by Charles Thomas Newton. [18]
Translucent white and yellow-brown
calcite. Height 28.8 cm.

British Museum. Inv. No. 132114.
See a map of Bodrum
(Halicarnassus) below.

A relief depicting a Persian archer

A cast of an enamelled brick relief
depicting a Persian archer in the
Louvre. From the palace of Darius I
at Susa (Elam, today in Iran).

Barracco Museum, Rome.
Inv. No. MB 242.
Herodotus' Histories can be read online at Perseus Digital Library.

In Greek, with notes in Greek:

A. D. Godley, Herodotus, Histories. Harvard University Press, 1920.

In English, with notes:

A. D. Godley, Herodotus, Histories. Harvard University Press, 1920.

There are a number of more recent translations in print, notably:

Herodotus, The Histories, translated by Robin Waterfield, with an introduction and notes by
Carolyn Dewald. Oxford World's Classics series, Oxford University Press, 1998, reissued 2008.
Paperback, 784 pages. A hefty paperback editon, with comprehensive notes, indexes, timeline,
maps and bibliography.
References to Herodotus
on My Favourite Planet

Athens Acropolis gallery:

page 4       page 8       page 11

Travel guide to Alexandroupoli, Thrace, Greece:

page 2, history       page 5, sightseeing
History of Kavala
History of Pergamon

Pergamon gallery 2:

page 13

History of Stageira and Olympiada:

Part 2       Part 3       Part 4

Part 5       Part 8

Ancient Stageira gallery:

page 13       page 19


The Cheshire Cat Blog:

Dion: the garden of the gods

Herodotus on Homer, Hesiod
and Greek religion:

Homer part 1

Marble herm of Herodotus from Tivoli at My Favourite Planet

The portrait of Herodotus on a double marble herm
of Herodotus and Thucydides (see photo below).
His name ΗΔΡΟΔΟΤΟC is inscribed in Greek along
the bottom of the bust. Early 2nd century AD.

National Archaeological Museum, Naples.
Inv. No. 6239.

The double herm of Herodotus and Thucydides in Naples at My Favourite Planet

Side view of the double herm of Thucydides (left) and Herodotus in Naples.

The portrait heads are early 2nd century AD copies
of early 4th century BC Greek originals. Height 58 cm.

Found in Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli, near Rome, around 1547-1555.
Later in the Farnese Collection in the Villa Farnesina, Trastevere,
Rome. Taken with the rest of the collection to Naples in 1787.

National Archaeological Museum, Naples. Inv. No. 6239.

Head of a marble herm of Herodotus from Rome at My Favourite Planet

Head of a marble herm of Herodotus.

Greek marble. 2nd century AD. Recovered from the rubble
of a demolished wall near the Porta Metronia, Rome.

Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, National Museum of Rome.
Inv. No. 124478. Acquired by the museum in 1940.

An inscribed marble base of a statue of Herodotus from Pergamon at My Favourite Planet

Fragment of an inscribed marble base of a standing statue of Herodotus from
the Sanctuary of Athena Polias Nikephoros, Pergamon. Late Hellenistic period.

Pergamon Museum, Berlin. Inv. No. IvP 199. Inscription IvP I 199.

The broken segment of a cylindrical, white marble block was found in March 1881 in the "Turkish Middle Tower" on the southern edge of the Sanctuary of Athena Polias Nikephoros. An indentation in the shape of a right foot on the top of the block indicates that it was the base for a standing bronze statue. Part of the inscription on the side of the base has survived, with the name ΗΡΟΔΟΤΟ[Σ] ΑΛΙΚΑΡΝΑΣΣ[ΕΥΣ] (Herodotos Alikarnasseys, Herodotus of Halicarnassus).

Height 34 cm, diameter 60 cm, height of lettering 2.5 cm.

Bases for statues of other Greek poets and historians have also been found at the sanctuary: Alkaios of Mytiline, Apollonios, Balakros, Homer and Timotheos [19]. The statues were probably part of a collection of monuments dedicated to famous writers exhibited in the Library of Pergamon within the sanctuary.

Read about two inscriptions from Halicarnassus honouring Herodotus
and other writers from the city on the Panyassis page.

See also the base of a statue of Homer from the Sanctuary of Athena, Pergamon.
Vyzantino Greek Restaurant, Plaka, Athens, Greece
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Map of Bodrum (Halicarnassus) at My Favourite Planet

Detail of a 19th century map of Bodrum, showing some
of the ruins and features of ancient Halicarnassus.

Source: Charles Thomas Newton, Travels and discoveries in the Levant,
Volume II
(of 2), Plate 1. Day and Sons, London, 1865. At the Internet Archive.

An inscribed poros column from Thebes at My Favourite Planet

Part of an inscribed poros (limestone) column with a metrical
inscription in the Boeotian alphabet, around 500 BC. In the
4th century BC the epigram was reinscribed on the other
side of the column in the Ionic alphabet.

Early 5th century BC. From the Temple of Apollo Ismenios,
Thebes, Boeotia, central Greece.

Thebes Archaeological Museum. Inv. No. 40993.

The epigram mentions the miraculous rediscovery of the gold shield which had been dedicated by the Lydian king Croesus (Κροῖσος, Kroisos; ruled circa 560-547 BC) to the divine hero Amphiaraos (Ἀμφιαράος, see Asklepios), and which had been stolen under mysterious circumstances. The inscription is seen as proof of Herodotus' testimony that in his time the shield was to be seen in the Temple of Apollo Ismenios at Thebes.

"Such were the gifts which he [Croesus] sent to Delphi. To Amphiaraus, of whose courage and fate he had heard, he dedicated a shield made entirely of gold and a spear all of solid gold, point and shaft alike. Both of these were until my time at Thebes, in the Theban temple of Ismenian Apollo."

Herodotus, Histories, Book 1, chapter 52. At Perseus Digital Library.

Herodotus Strret in Kos at My Favourite Planet

A street sign in Herodotus Street(Οδός Ἡρόδοτου, Odos Herodotou) in
the city of Kos, Dodecanese, Greece, just 5 km south, across the Aegean
Sea from Halicarnassus (today Bodrum, Turkey), Herodotus' birthplace.

Following centuries of occupation by crusading knights, Ottoman
Turks, Italy and Nazi Germany, many of the streets on Kos and
other Dodecanese islands were renamed when they became part
of the modern Greek state after World War 2. Many of the streets
in Kos are now named after famous Greeks ancient and modern.
Herodotus Notes, references and links

1. Herodotus, "pater historiae"

The famous quote from On the laws (De Legibus, Book 1, section 5) by Cicero (Marcus Tullius Cicero, 106-43 BC) is followed by a caveat:

"Quintus: I understand you, my brother; you think that the laws which ought to bind a historian are quite different from those which require to be observed in a poem.

Marcus: Certainly; inasmuch as the main object of the former is truth in all its relations, while that of the latter is amusement; although in Herodotus, the father of history, and in Theopompus, we find innumerable fables [i.e. fabulous or incredible tales]."

C. D. Yonge (translator, editor), The Treatises of M. T. Cicero: On the nature of the gods; On divination; On fate; On the Republic; On the laws; and On standing for the consulship. On the laws, page 400. H. G. Bohn, London, 1853. At googlebooks.

In Yonge's translation Herodotus is described as "the father of Greek history", but the word Greek does not appear in the Latin original:

"Quintus: Intellego te, frater, alias in historia leges obseruandas putare, alias in poemate.

Marcus: Quippe cum in illa ad ueritatem, Quinte, quaeque referantur, in hoc ad delectationem pleraque; quamquam et apud Herodotum patrem historiae et apud Theopompum sunt innumerabiles fabulae."

Georges de Plinval (editor), M. Tullius Cicero, De legibus, Book 1, section 5 (in Latin). Belles Lettres, Paris, 1959. At Perseus Digital Library.
Theopompus of Chios (Θεόπομπος ο Χίος, circa 380-300 BC) was a Greek rhetorician and historian who studied at the school of rhetoric established by Isocrates on Chios. He wrote Hellenika (Ἐλληνικαὶ ἱστορίαι), a continuation of Thucydides, in 12 books covering the period from the Battle of Cynossema (Κυνὸς σῆμα) in 411 to the Battle of Knidos in 394 BC, and Philippika (Φιλιππικὰ), a history of Greece during the reign of Philip II of Macedon (359-336 BC) in 58 books. He also wrote several orations, including panegyrics in praise of Philip II and Alexander the Great, and may have written Epitome of the History of Herodotus (Ἐπιτομὴ τῶν Ἡρρδότου ἱστοριῶν). Only fragments of his works have survived.

2. Halicarnassus

Halicarnassus (Ἁλικαρνᾱσσός, Halikarnassos or Αλικαρνασσός, Alikarnassos) was a city in Caria (Καρία), on the Aegean coast of southwestern Anatolia (Asia Minor), between Ionia (to the north) and Lycia (the south), and opposite the Dodecanese island of Kos.

It never played a significant role in ancient political events and knowledge of its history is scant. The prehistoric population was made up of peoples referred to as Carians and Leleges. There is evidence of a Greek presence in the area from the Mycenaean period, although larger scale colonization by Greeks appears to have begun in the 12th-11th centuries BC. The main settlement is thought to have been called Zephyria (Ζεφύρια, West Wind), on the small island between two bays, now joined to the mainland, on which the Castle of Saint Peter was built by the Knights of Rhodes in 1404. Another significant settlement or district was Salmakis (Σαλμακίς, see Panyassis), at the southwest of the western bay.

During the mid 6th century BC, along with the other Greek cities of the Aegean coast, it came under the control of the Lydian king Croesus until he was defeated by Cyrus II (the Great) of Persia in 547-546 BC. As part of the Persian Empire it was governed by local tyrants or satraps, the most famous being Mausolus (Μαύσωλος, 377-353 BC), whose tomb, known as the Mausoleum (see Pytheos), was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Two hundred years of Persian rule was ended when Caria was conquered in 334 BC by Alexander the Great. During Alexander's siege of the city it was devastated by fire, and although it was rebuilt it appears to have never to have fully recovered. Today it is the location of the modern port city Bodrum, in the Muğla Province of Turkey.

3. One of the notables of Halicarnassus

The phrase "Ἁλικαρνασεύς, τῶν ἐπιφανῶν", translated here as "of Halicarnassus; one of the notables", has also been interpreted as "Halicarnassian; one of the distinguished men of that place". It has been pointed out that this does not necessarily indicate that his social status there was high, but may refer to his later fame as a historian.

See: Jessica Priestley, Herodotus and Hellenistic culture: Literary studies in the reception of the Histories, page 20. Oxford University Press, 2014.

4. Artemisia, Pisindelis, Lygdamis I and Lygdamis II

Artemisia (Ἀρτεμισία, Artemisia I of Caria), the queen - a tyrant or dynast - of Halicarnassus in Persian controlled Caria, who fought on the side of the Persian king Xerxes I against the Greeks at the Battle of Salamis in 480 BC. Herodotus mentioned her several times (see quote below), and wrote that her father was Lygdamis (Λύγδαμις Α', Lygdamis I of Halicarnassus), a tyrant or dynast in the late 6th or early 5th century BC, and that she had a young son. He did not name her husband or her son, who the Suda calls Pisindelis (Πισίνδηλις).

The second Lygdamis (Λύγδαμις, died circa 453/450 BC), often referred to as Lygdamis II (Λύγδαμις Β') of Halicarnassus, is described here and in the Suda entry for "Panyasis" (see the Panyassis page) as the "third tyrant of Halicarnassus", after Artemisia, in the 460s or mid-450s BC. He was the son or grandson of Artemisia, perhaps the son of Artemisia's son Pisindelis.

It was this Lygdamis from whom Herodotus fled into exile on Samos, and who is said to have executed his kinsman, the poet Panyassis, perhaps following an unsuccessful uprising. Herodotus is said to have later returned to Halicarnassus and helped overthrow Lygdamis.

He is sometimes referred to as Lygdamis III: Lygdamis I being the 6th century tyrant of Naxos and ally of Peisistratos, the tyrant of Athens; and Lygdamis II being Lygdamis I of Halicarnassus.

"I see no need to mention any of the other captains except Artemisia. I find it a great marvel that a woman went on the expedition against Hellas: after her husband died, she took over his tyranny, though she had a young son, and followed the army from youthful spirits and manliness, under no compulsion. Artemisia was her name, and she was the daughter of Lygdamis; on her father's side she was of Halicarnassian lineage, and on her mother's Cretan.

She was the leader of the men of Halicarnassus and Cos and Nisyrus and Calydnos, and provided five ships. Her ships were reputed to be the best in the whole fleet after the ships of Sidon, and she gave the king the best advice of all his allies. The cities that I said she was the leader of are all of Dorian stock, as I can show, since the Halicarnassians are from Troezen, and the rest are from Epidaurus."

Herodotus, Histories, Book 7, chapter 99. At Perseus Digital Library.

5. "The Transgressor" - Julian the Apostate

Emperor Julian II (Flavius Claudius Iulianus Augustus, 331/332 - 363 AD, reigned 361-363 AD), also known as Julian the Apostate, was the last pagan emperor and attempted to arrest the growing dominance of Christianity in the empire. He was also a philosopher and author in Greek. The letter quoted in the Suda is thought to be a fragment of one of Julian's many epistles, numbered 155 in the collection edited by I. Bidez and F. Cumont, published in 1922. Herodotus is also cited as "the Thurian historian" in No. 152 (Epistle 22):

"The Thurian historian said that men's ears are less to be trusted than their eyes." (Histories, Book 1, chapter 8)

I. Bidez and F. Cumont, Imp. Caesaris Flavii Claudii Iuliani, Epistulae, leges, poematia, fragmenta varia. Les Belles Lettres, Paris, and Oxford University Press, 1922.

Preface and main text In Latin, quotes in Greek. 152 (Epistle 22), pages 207-208; 155 "Ad ignotum (Suidas Herodotus)", page 209.

English translations of Julian's epistles, epigrams and orations can be found at

Letter 11. To Leontius (No. 152 in Bidez-Cumont)

The shorter fragments, 1. From the Suda, under 'Ηρόδοτος and again under Ζηλωσαι (No. 155 in Bidez-Cumont)

6. Dung-eaters, fish-eaters and flesh-eaters

For the eaters of dung (bread from grain grown in manured soil), fish eaters (Ichthyophagoi, from Elephantine) and meat eaters (Ethiopians), see Histories, Book 3, chapters 19-25 and 30. At Perseus Digital Library.

7. Herodotus and the Ionic dialect in Halicarnassus

The claim that Herodotus began writing in the Ionic dialect of Greek when he was in Samos, which like much in the Suda has been variously accepted and dismissed by modern scholars, may be derived from Herodotus' own statement that Halicarnassians were Dorian Greeks from Troezen, made when he was discussing Artemisia (see the quote above).

The fact that Herodotus added "as I can show" ("ἀποφαίνω", often translated as "I declare") suggests that he felt it necessary to emphasize that the Carians were of Dorian stock and that there may have been doubt about this in his time. It is now widely believed that Halicarnassus was founded by both Ionic and Dorian Greeks following the Doric invasion of the Peloponnese in the late 12th to 11th centuries BC, and that the Ionic dialect became prevalent there. Official inscriptions of the Classical period found at Halicarnassus are written in Ionic. Lucian of Samosata referred to Herodotus' language as "his native Ionic" [see note 12].

"On the neighbouring coast of Asia Minor Halicarnassus was founded by Dorians and Ionians from Troezen, Iasus by Dorians from the Argolid, and Cnidus by Dorians from Argolis and Lacedaemonia. These were the farthest outliers of the Dorian invasion. They held a cult of Triopian Apollo on the Cnidian promontory, to which only the Dorians of Cnidus, Halicarnassus, Cos, and the three towns of Rhodes (Lindus, Ialysus, and Cameirus) were admitted." *

"Doric was spoken during classical times in Aegina, Megaris, and the eastern Peloponnese from Sicyonia to Lacedaemonia: in Messenia, where its wide distribution may be partly due to the later conquest of Messenia by Sparta; in the southern Aegean islands; and on the adjacent coast of Asia Minor; except at Halicarnassus, where the settlers were of mixed stock and the Ionic dialect prevailed."

"In Troezen the Ionic dialect survived long enough to be perpetuated in her colony Halicarnassus."

N. G. L. Hammond, A history of Greece to 322 BC, pages 78-79 and 82. Oxford University Press, 1959.

* The Hexapolis, a confederacy of six Dorian colonies on the coast of Caria and the neighbouring islands, with its spiritual centre at the sanctuary of Triopian Apollo at Knidos, was comparable to the Ionian League of twelve Ionian cities which met at the sanctuary of Poseidon at Panionion. Halicarnassus was expelled from the Hexapolis shortly before the birth of Herodotus, and its government was united with that of the neighbouring islands of Kos, Kalydna and Nysirus under Artemisia.

At some point the island of Megisti (today Kastellorizo), off the coast of Lycia, southwestern Anatolia (Asia Minor), was also occupied by the Dorians and later came under control of Rhodes (see A brief history of Kastellorizo).

Pausanias recorded that the Halicarnassians honoured Troezen as their mother city (metropolis) by building a temple of Isis there:

"Having crossed the sanctuary, you can see a temple of Isis, and above it one of Aphrodite of the Height. The temple of Isis was made by the Halicarnassians in Troezen, because this is their mother-city, but the image of Isis was dedicated by the people of Troezen."

Pausanias, Description of Greece, Book 2, chapter 32, section 6. At Perseus Digital Library.

A fragment of white marble in the British Museum, found at Bodrum by Alfred Biliotti and dated to around the 3rd century BC, bears the remains of six lines of an inscription mentioning Troezen, the mother city of Halicarnassus.

British Museum. Inv. No. 2013,5017.73 (Inscription 891). Not on display.

See: C. T. Newton (editor), The collection of ancient Greek inscriptions in the British Museum, Part IV, Section I, Gustav Hirschfeld, Knidos, Halikarnassos and Branchidae, No. DCCCXCI (891), page 57. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1893.

It has been pointed out by several scholars that just about all Greek prose authors of the Classical period wrote in Ionic, including Hippocrates (Ἱπποκράτης, circa 460-370 BC), who was from Kos, another Doric settlement.

8. Herodotus in Athens

There has been much speculation about how long Herodotus spent in Athens and what he may have done there. It is thought that as a metic (foreign resident) he is unlikely to have enjoyed the rights of an Athenian citizen, particularly since a law of 451 BC restricted the granting of citizenship. However, he may have been befriended by eminent Athenians such as the playwright Sophocles and Pericles, who was a principal supporter of the colonization of Thurii. Plutarch quoted the opening of an epigram apparently meant to accompany a song composed by Sophocles at the age of 55 (around 442 BC) for Herodotus, possibly the historian rather than someone else of the same name:

"And here is a little epigram of Sophocles, as all agree:

'Song for Herodotus Sophocles made when the years of his age were
Five in addition to fifty.'"

Plutarch, An seni respublica gerenda sit, section 3 (Whether an old man should engage in public affairs). At Perseus Digital Library.

9. Jerome on Herodotus in Athens

Saint Jerome (Greek, Εὐσέβιος Σωφρόνιος Ἱερώνυμος; Latin, Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus; circa 347-420 AD), was a priest from Illyria, and a prodigious writer on theology and history. He is best known for his Latin translation of most of the Bible (later known as the Vulgate), and his commentaries on the Gospels.

His Chronicle (Chronicon or Temporum liber, The Book of Times), a universal chronicle compiled in Constantinople around 380 AD, is a Latin translation of the chronological tables from the second part of the now lost Chronicon (Παντοδαπὴ Ἱστορία, Pantodape historia, Universal history), written in Greek by the theologian Eusebius of Caesarea (Ευσέβιος ο Καισαρείας, circa 260-339 AD). Eusebius' Chronicon covered the period from Abraham until 325 AD; Jerome's work added information up to 379 AD.

Jerome, Chronicle pp. 188-332, pages 194/195, 83rd Olympiad, 445 BC. Translated and edited by Roger Pearse and friends, Ipswich, UK, 2005. At

10. Athenian wages

See: Robert Flaceliere, Daily life in Greece at the time of Pericles, translated from the French by Peter Green. Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London 1965. Paperback edition, Phoenix Press, 2002. Page 130.

11. Plutarch, On the malice of Herodotus

The essay On the malice of Herodotus (Περὶ τῆς Ἡροδότου κακοηθείας) criticizing Herodotus for prejudice and misrepresentation has been attributed to Plutarch (Πλούταρχος, circa 46-120 AD), although some scholars believe it may have been written by Pseudo-Plutarch, a name given collectively to the author or authors whose works have been attributed to Plutarch.

Plutarch, De Herodoti malignitate, section 26. William W. Goodwin (editor), Plutarch’s Morals, Volume 4 (of 5). Little, Brown, and Company, Cambridge, MA, 1874. At Perseus Digital Library.

Diyllus (Δίυλλος) was an Athenian historian of the early 3rd century BC, who wrote a now lost history of Greece and Sicily in 26 or 27 books, covering events from the Third Sacred War (356-346 BC) to the death of Philip IV of Macedon (Φίλιππος Δʹ ὁ Μακεδών; died 297 BC), son of Cassander (Κάσσανδρος Ἀντιπάτρου, circa 350-297 BC).

Philippides (Φιλιππίδης) or Pheidippides (Φειδιππίδης) was the runner sent by the Athenians to Sparta to ask for help against the Persians at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC (Histories, Book 6, chapter 105). See Athens Acropolis gallery page 4.

12. Lucian on Herodotus

Lucian of Samosata (circa 125 - after 180 AD, see Aetion). His claim that Herodotus recited the Histories at the Olympic Games has been refuted, although since Herodotus or Aetion is supposed to have been an introduction or lecture addressed to a large and learned audience in Macedonia, there must have been at least a few present who would have had an opinion on the matter.

"I wish it were possible to imitate Herodotus's other qualities too. I do not mean all and every one (this would be too much to pray for) but just one of them – whether the beauty of his diction, the careful arrangement of his words, the aptness of his native Ionic, his extraordinary power of thought, or the countless jewels which he has wrought into a unity beyond hope of imitation. But where you and I and everyone else can imitate him is in what he did with his composition and in the speed with which he became an established man of repute throughout the whole Greek world.

As soon as he sailed from his home in Caria straight for Greece, he bethought himself of the quickest and least troublesome path to fame and a reputation for both himself and his works. To travel round reading his works, now in Athens, now in Corinth or Argos or Lacedaemon in turn, he thought a long and tedious undertaking that would waste much time. The division of his task and the consequent delay in the gradual acquisition of a reputation did not appeal to him, and he formed the plan I suppose of winning the hearts of all the Greeks at once if he could.

The great Olympian games were at hand, and Herodotus thought this the opportunity he had been hoping for. He waited for a packed audience to assemble, one containing the most eminent men from all Greece; he appeared in the temple chamber, presenting himself as a competitor for an Olympic honour, not as a spectator; then he recited his Histories and so bewitched his audience that his books were called after the Muses, for they too were nine in number.

By this time he was much better known than the Olympic victors themselves. There was no one who had not heard the name of Herodotus – some at Olympia itself, others from those who brought the story back from the festival. He had only to appear and he was pointed out: 'That is that Herodotus who wrote the tale of the Persian Wars in Ionic and celebrated our victories.' Such were the fruits of his Histories. In a single meeting he won the universal approbation of all Greece and his name was proclaimed not indeed just by one herald but in every city that had sent spectators to the festival."

Herodotus or Aetion (Ἡρόδοτος ή Ἀετίων), pages 139-151 (this extract on pages 144-145), in Lucian, with an English translation by K. Kilburn, Volume VI (of eight). William Heinemann, London; Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1959. Parallel texts in Greek and English. At the Internet Archive.

13. Markellinos on Herodotus' reading

Markellinos (Μαρκελλῖνος, also referred as Marcellinus), who probably lived around the 6th century AD, wrote a short Life of Thucydides, found in some of the ancient scholia (commentaries) on Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War.

The wording of the two versions of the story are so close that they must be from the same source.

See: Timothy Burns, Marcellinus’ Life of Thucydides, translated, with an introductory essay. In Interpretation, A journal of political philosophy, Volume 38 / Issue 1, pages 3-25. Queens College, Flushing, NY, 2010. (PDF document)

A shorter version of the same story appears elsewhere in the Suda:

"Organ, [Meaning] to desire [to swell with lust, to be eager]. Also [sc. attested is the participle] ὀργῶντες ['they being eager'] in Thucydides meaning they desiring. When Herodotus saw Thucydides weeping because of some enthusiasm, he said, 'I consider you fortunate, Olorus, for your success in fatherhood; for your son has a soul eager for learning.'"

Suda, Ὀργᾶν, omicron, 502. At Suda On Line.

14. Stephanus Byzantius on Herodotus' tomb in Thurii

Stephanus Byzantius, also known as Stephen of Byzantium (Στέφανος Βυζάντιος, Stephanos Byzantios; 6th century AD), the author of a geographical dictionary titled Ethnica (Ἐθνικά), of which only fragments have survived in an epitome compiled by a certain Hermolaus, who is otherwise unknown.

The text of the four-line inscription in Greek:

August Meineke, Stephanus Byzantinus, Ethnicorum quae supersunt (Ethnica), Θούριοι, pages 315-316. Reimer, Berlin, 1849. At the Internet Archive.

15. Markellinos on Herodotus' tomb in Athens

See the note above for the bibliographic reference and link.

Koile (Κοίλη, Hollow) was a deme of Athens, belonging to the Hippothontis (Ἱπποθοντίς) tribe, outside the Melitian Gate which led to the deme of Melite (Μελίτη Κεκροπίδας), in the west of Athens, north of the Pnyx. It is not certain that Thucydides returned to Athens from his exile in Thrace, or was buried there. Kimon was said to have died in Cyprus. The tombs, if they existed, may have been cenotaphs (symbolic empty grave monuments).

16. The muses and the Histories

Lucian is the earliest known writer to note the division of the Histories into nine books, each named after the muses.

See the note above for the quote, bibliographic reference and link.

It has been suggested that the division may have been made by a 1st century BC editor in Alexandria. An anonymous epigram, perhaps from this period, lends a poetical and mythological origin to the titling of the books:

"Ἡρόδοτος Μούσας ὑπεδέξατο: τῷ δ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἑκάστη
ἀντὶ φιλοξενίης βίβλον ἔδωκε μίαν."

"Herodotus entertained the Muses, and each,
in return for his hospitality, gave him a book."

William Roger Paton (translator), The Greek anthology, Volume III (of 5), Book IX, Epigrams, chapter 160, pages 84-85. Loeb Classical Library. William Heinemann, London; G. P. Putnam's sons, New York, 1915. Greek and English on facing pages. At the Internet Archive.

You can almost hear the clinking of teaspoons in china cups as Herodotus amuses the Muses in his crowded study.

17. "Portraits" of Herodotus

As with several "portraits" of other famous ancient Greeks (see for example Homer, Panyassis and Thucydides), the extant sculptures depicting of Herodotus are thought to be works of imagination, made long after his death. In many cases the modern identifications of the persons depicted are also questionable.

18. Alabastron inscribed with the name of Xerxes from Halicarnassus

According to Newton, the vase is identical to one in the Bibliothèque Impériale in Paris. A similar vase, also inscribed with the name of Xerxes, was excavated at Susa together with fragments of three others, and a porphyry vase with the name of Artaxerxes is in the Treasury of St. Mark's, Venice.

See: Sir Charles Thomas Newton and Richard Popplewell Pullan, A History of Discoveries at Halicarnassus, Cnidus and Branchidae.

Volume I, Plates, Plate VII. Day and Son, London, 1862. At University of Heidelberg Digital Library.

Volume II, Part 1, Chapter IV, pages 91-93. Day and Son, London, 1862. At the Internet Archive.

Volume II, Part 2, Appendix II: S. Birch, On the alabaster vase inscribed with the name of Xerxes, pages 667-670. Day and Son, London, 1863. At the Internet Archive.

19. Bases of statues of writers from the Library of Pergamon

See: Max Fränkel, Altertümer von Pergamon, Band VIII, Band 1: Die Inschriften von Pergamon, Nos. 198-203, pages 117-121. Königliche Museen zu Berlin. W. Spemann, Berlin, 1890.
Photos and articles © David John, except where otherwise specified.
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