Herodotus, "the Father of History," was born in B.C. 484 at Halicarnassus in Asia Minor. There was talent in the family, for his uncle was a poet. He soon set out on his travels, first visiting Egypt,. then more than now the home of mystery, and just beginning to be opened to Greek curiosity, and passing on to Libya, Palestine, Babylon,. Scythia, Thrace, Macedonia, and Epirus, and so home to Caria, where he found political disorder raging that drove him to the island of Samos. Returning to Halicarnassus, he with others drove out Lygdamis, who had usurped the supreme authority, but the succeeding aristocratic government was little better, and those for whom he had worked taunted him with doing them more harm than good. In disgust, therefore, he retired to the Greek colony of Thnrii in Italy to find there the tranquillity which should enable him to carry out, the great work of his life. Some say that he wrote his history at Halicarnassus, and read it at the Olympic Games in 456 B.C., so charming the audience that they applied the names of the Muses to the different parts of his work, and so working on the emotions of Thucydides, then a boy of fifteen, as to make him weep, and determine him on the course of life-study which made him the other great historian of Greece. He is said to have read his history at Athens in 446 B.C., and to have received a prize of £2,500 for it. Pliny was of opinion that he wrote at Thurii, and completed his history to 409, but as it stands it ends very abruptly, and suggests that he died leaving it unfinished, early in the Peloponnesian war. Beginning with the struggle of the Greeks and Persians, the clashing of the East and West, Herodotus searches into the mythical stories of mutual outrage that led to the conflict. This carries him to Lydia, whose history he relates down to the fall of Croesus before the rising power of the Persians, and the subjugation of Asia Minor leads to the introduction of Babylon, and the life of Cambyses introduces Egypt, and that of Darius takes us among the Scythians. So the extension of the Persian kingdom leads to the treatment of Cyrene and Libya, and by a natural sequence of events we arrive at the Ionian revolt, and the struggle between Greece and Persia. Everywhere, however, there are minor digressions on the slightest provocation.
No account can convey any idea of the simple charm of Herodotus' style to those who have not read him in the original, or at least in a good translation, and modern research (except perhaps in the case of Egypt) has amply vindicated his character for truthfulness in matters which came under his own observation. Some excellent editions of his history with valuable comments and illustrations have been issued, and among Englishmen the brothers Rawlinson have done much towards increasing our knowledge of the subjects of which Herodotus treated, and also of his own merits.