* 484 v. Chr. Halikarnassos
† 425 v. Chr. Thurioi
Herodotus was born in 484 B.C.E. in Halicarnassus (in present-day Turkey). For his part in plots against the tyrannical rule of the Persians, Herodotus was exiled to the island of Samos from his hometown of Halicarnassus. According to his own writings, he undertook extended travels to Persia, Egypt, Phoenicia, and Babylon. In 447 B.C.E., Herodotus went to Athens, where he maintained close contact with the great personalities of his time, including the writer Sophocles and the statesman Pericles. He participated in the founding of the colony Thurioi (in present-day southern Italy) in 443 B.C.E., where he lived and worked until his death in 425 B.C.E. Herodotus, of whose writings we know only his "Histories," belongs to a line of Greek authors who, at the beginning of the classical period of ancient Greece, tried to put down in writing the oral lore of the Greek peoples. In his monumental historical work, which was later divided into nine books, he described the time of war between the Persians and the Greeks at the beginning of the 5th century B.C.E.; this the most important source we have today for this period of ancient Greek history. Herodotus not only represented historical events, but he inlcuded many ethnological observations about the lands to which he himself had traveled. With these descriptions, the "Histories" are one of the most important Western sources of knowledge on the Medeans, Achemenideans, Scythians, and Sacians. The constitution debate contained in his work (Herodotus 3,80-84), in which the different forms of state are weighed against each other, is also of great importance. This is still a fundamental source in research on democracy today. His prose work was composed in a high literary style, so that the "Histories" had a lasting influence on later Greek and Latin writers of history. Cicero (De leg. 1,5) called Herodotus "pater historiae," the father of history.