The Impossibility of Stepping into the Same Story Twice: Investigating Herodotus as a Presocratic Historian

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Due to the authorship of his grand opus, The Histories , Herodotus of Halicarnassus, for the ancients as well as for us was renowned as the ?father of history,? the founder of a genre.1 Yet no historian of antiquity was more severely censured than Herodotus; with charges of inaccuracy, of bias, and telling folktales.2 Modern scholars such as Detlev Fehling or Francois Hartog, have used two basic critiques to dissect Herodotus: the question of credibility and a structurally incoherent narrative. The issue of credibility lies in the variability of his sources. Herodotus has not given us a narrative that performs the historical service of telling the audience ?how it really was.? He fails to get to the bottom of the events which assigns him the title of a fabulist. Herodotus has adorned his tale with devices of a story-teller to give the work greater credence.3 In regards to the arguments against Herodotus I assert that it takes a different perspective to fully grasp his avenue of writing, these are the strengths of the work tied to the unity that I want to express. I want to explore his so called ?shifty,? false narrative that he has woven through the lens of the material monists, the Presocratics. The form matches the content and the content is representative of a Heraclitean or Anaximanderian world. Attempts to understand Herodotus by way of the modern perception of history is flawed. We have to consider his field of history relevant to his time. His work articulates an alternative epistemology and indeed an alternative ontology. The Presocratic philosophers are the perfect context to view his canon of history. 1 Thomas, Rosalind, Herodotus in Context: Ethnography, Science and the Art of Persuasion , Cambridge University Press, United Kingdom, 2000, 4. 2 Hartog, Francois, ?Herodotus,? pgs 120-125 of A Guide to Greek Thought: Major Figures and Trends , edited by: Brunschwigm Jacques; Lloyd, Geoffrey E.R.. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2003 3 Fehling, Detlev, Herodotus and his ?Sources , ? Leeds, 1989, expanded translation by J.G. Howie of Die Quellenangaben bei Herodot. Studien zur Erzahlkunst Herodots , Berlin and New York, 1971.


Damian Stocking




Ford Research Endowment

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