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Herodotus

Birthdate: 484 BC
Date of death: 425 BC

Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus in the Persian Empire . He is known for having written the book The Histories , a detailed record of his "inquiry" on the origins of the Greco-Persian Wars. He is widely considered to have been the first writer to have treated historical subjects using a method of systematic investigation—specifically, by collecting his materials and then critically arranging them into an historiographic narrative. On account of this, he is often referred to as "The Father of History", a title first conferred on him by the first-century BC Roman orator Cicero.Despite Herodotus's historical significance, little is known about his personal life. His Histories primarily deals with the lives of Croesus, Cyrus, Cambyses, Smerdis, Darius, and Xerxes and the battles of Marathon, Thermopylae, Artemisium, Salamis, Plataea, and Mycale; however, his many cultural, ethnographical, geographical, historiographical, and other digressions form a defining and essential part of the Histories and contain a wealth of information. Herodotus has been criticized for the fact that his book includes many obvious legends and fanciful accounts. Many authors, starting with the late fifth-century BC historian Thucydides, have accused him of making up stories for entertainment. However, Herodotus states that he is merely reporting what he has seen and heard. A sizable portion of the information he provides has since been confirmed by historians and archaeologists. Wikipedia

Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen (2009) / Public domain

Works

Histories
Herodotus

„The only good is knowledge, and the only evil is ignorance.“

—  Herodotus

The words of Socrates, as quoted by Diogenes Laertius.
Misattributed

„Call no man happy till he dies.“

—  Herodotus

Herodotus actually attributes this to Solon in a conversation with King Crœsus.
Variants:
Deem no man happy, until he passes the end of his life without suffering grief
Many very wealthy men are not happy, while many who have but a moderate living are fortunate; and in truth the very rich man who is not happy has two advantages only as compared with the poor man who is fortunate, whereas this latter has many as compared with the rich man who is not happy. The rich man is able better to fulfil his desire, and also to endure a great calamity if it fall upon him; whereas the other has advantage over him in these things which follow: — he is not indeed able equally with the rich man to endure a calamity or to fulfil his desire, but these his good fortune keeps away from him, while he is sound of limb, free from disease, untouched by suffering, the father of fair children and himself of comely form; and if in addition to this he shall end his life well, he is worthy to be called that which thou seekest, namely a happy man; but before he comes to his end it is well to hold back and not to call him yet happy but only fortunate. Now to possess all these things together is impossible for one who is mere man, just as no single land suffices to supply all things for itself, but one thing it has and another it lacks, and the land that has the greatest number of things is the best: so also in the case of a man, no single person is complete in himself, for one thing he has and another he lacks; but whosoever of men continues to the end in possession of the greatest number of these things and then has a gracious ending of his life, he is by me accounted worthy, O king, to receive this name.
The History of Herodotus Book I, Chapter 32 http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/hh/hh1030.htm.
Misattributed

„In peace sons bury fathers, but in war fathers bury sons.“

—  Herodotus, book Histories

Variant translation: In peace, children inter their parents; war violates the order of nature and causes parents to inter their children.
Book 1, Ch. 87.
The Histories

„Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all. The conscientious historian will correct these defects.“

—  Herodotus

This statement is not to be found in the works of Herodotus. It appears in the acknowledgements to Mark Twain's A Horse's Tale (1907) preceded by the words "Herodotus says", but Twain was simply summarizing what he took to be Herodotus' attitude to historiography.
Misattributed

„This is the bitterest pain among men, to have much knowledge but no power.“

—  Herodotus, book Histories

Book 9, Ch. 16
Variant translations:
Of all men's miseries the bitterest is this: to know so much and to have control over nothing.
The most hateful torment for men is to have knowledge of everything but power over nothing.
The Histories

„It is said that as many days as there are in the whole journey, so many are the men and horses that stand along the road, each horse and man at the interval of a day’s journey; and these are stayed neither by snow nor rain nor heat nor darkness from accomplishing their appointed course with all speed.“

—  Herodotus, book Histories

Book 8, Ch. 98
variant: Not snow, no, nor rain, nor heat, nor night keeps them from accomplishing their appointed courses with all speed. (Book 8, Ch. 98)
Paraphrase: "Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" ”
Appears carved over entrance to Central Post Office building in New York City.
The Histories

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„Knowledge may give weight, but accomplishments give lustre, and many more people see than weigh.“

—  Herodotus

Actually a quotation from a letter of Lord Chesterfield dated May 8, 1750.
Misattributed

„Some men give up their designs when they have almost reached the goal; while others, on the contrary, obtain a victory by exerting, at the last moment, more vigorous efforts than ever before.“

—  Herodotus

Though widely attributed to Herodotus this in fact comes from the Histories of Polybius, Book 16, chapter 28: "Some men, like bad runners in the stadium, abandon their purposes when close to the goal; while it is at that particular point, more than at any other, that others secure the victory over their rivals". (Translation of Evelyn S Shuckburgh).
Misattributed

„It is better to be envied than pitied.“

—  Herodotus, book Histories

Book 3, Ch. 52
The Histories
Variant: How much better a thing it is to be envied than to be pitied.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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