Saturday, October 18, 2014

Catching up with Herodotus …

… Father of History | The Weekly Standard. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Temperamentally, literarily, and methodoligically, Herodotus and Thucydides could scarcely have been further apart. Thucydides’ strength was in analysis, Herodotus’ in description. Concision, dazzling formulation, and intellectual penetration were where Thucydides’ power lay, while expansion and sympathy for human difference was Herodotus’ forte. Herodotus appears to have been a man of wider tolerance, with a more generous nature and distinterested outlook than Thucydides. Herodotus’ motive was pure knowledge; Thucydides, meanwhile, wrote under the cloud of having been exiled for 20 years from Athens because of his failure to arrive in time to rescue the Athenian forces at the Battle of Amphipolis early in the Peloponnesian War.
I read Herodotus when I was in high school. I still have the volumes downstairs. And I remember him as great company throughout. Maybe that's where I got my lifelong preoccupation with trying to see things just as they are.

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