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Herodotus of Halicarnassus

Herodotus of Halicarnassus was a Greek writer and historian. He was born in 484 BC (Halicarnassus) and died in 425 BC (Thurii). He has been referred to as the father of history.

Herodotus was born in Halicarnassus in Asia Minor. Here he was politically active and involved in the attempt to overthrow the tyrant Lygdamides. After his failure, he was forced to go into exile on the island of Samos. On his return, however, he was again involved in a plot against the same tyrant, but already successful. In his old age, on the other hand, he returned again to Samos.

Throughout his life Herodotus travelled widely and argued that history should be approached geographically and, conversely, geography should be approached historically. Hence his famous statement 'geography is real, man-made history'. He also spent a long time in Athens, where he made contact with Sophocles and Pericles, for example. Here he received a reward from the city for reading extracts from his work.

His Histories consisted of nine books, thus forming the most complete account of the world known to the Greeks of that time. It describes, among other things, the origins and development of the Persian Empire and its conflict with Greece, and the relations between Greek communities. It also deals systematically with Egypt or gives the first reliable accounts of Scythia (in the Black Sea).

Herodotus also mentions Indus or southern Nubia. For him the Mediterranean, the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Ocean (Erythraean Sea) are the only connected seas. Libya (Africa) and Asia are surrounded by water spaces in the south. "As for Europe, no one knows for sure if it is bathed by water in the east and north," he asserted.

He also addresses topographical data here, making an inventory of rivers, mountains, cities, and so on. Marginally, he also discusses the customs of various tribes and ethnic groups. Then, for example, the diversity of fauna and flora.