Greek historian, known as the father of history, born in Halicarnassus (now Bodrum, Turkey). He is believed to have been exiled from Halicarnassus about 457BC for conspiring against Persian rule. He probably went directly to Sαmos, from which he traveled throughout Asia Minor, Babylonia, Egypt, and Greece. The direction and extent of his travels are not precisely known, but they provided him with valuable firsthand knowledge of virtually the entire ancient Middle East. About 447BC he went to Athens, then the center and focus of culture in the Greek world, where he won the admiration of the most illustrious men of Greece, including the great Athenian statesman Pericles. In 443BC Herodotus settled in the Panhellenic colony of Thurii in southern Italy. He devoted the remainder of his life to the completion of his great work, entitled History, the Greek word for "inquiry."
The History has been divided by later authors into nine parts. The earlier books deal with the customs, legends, history, and traditions of the peoples of the ancient world, including the Lydians, Scythians, Medes, Persians, Assyrians, and Egyptians. The last three books describe the armed conflicts between Greece and Persia in the early 5th century BC. In the History the development of civilization moves inexorably toward a great confrontation between Persia and Greece, which are presented as the centers, respectively, of Eastern and Western culture. Herodotus's information was derived in part from the work of predecessors, but it was widely supplemented with knowledge that he had gained from his own extensive travels. Although he was sometimes inaccurate, he was generally careful to separate plausible reports from implausible ones.
The History may be the first known creative work to be written in prose. Both ancient and modern critics have paid tribute to its grandeur of design and to its frank, lucid, and delightfully anecdotal style. Herodotus demonstrates a wide knowledge of Greek literature and contemporary rational thought. The universe, he believed, is ruled by Fate and Chance, and nothing is stable in human affairs. Moral choice is still important, however, since the gods punish the arrogant. This attempt to draw moral lessons from the study of great events formed the basis of the Greek and Roman historiographical tradition, of which Herodotus is rightly regarded as the founder.