The Father of History, or Father of Lies?
The Greek historian Herodotus of Halicarnasus (circa 484 – circa 425 BC) is often referred to as “The Father of History”, because he is credited with writing the first great historical narrative of the ancient world. He traveled widely, or at least claimed to have done so – some obvious errors in his descriptions of places he supposedly visited have cast those claims in doubt. Herodotus collected the stories he gathered from his own travels, or from the hearsay of other travelers, into The Histories, a record of ancient politics, geography, and cultures, deemed Western literature’s founding work of history.
However, while Herodotus is rightly lauded as the Father of History, he also known to quite a few critics as “The Father of Lies“. For good reason: the man’s writings included not only some wrong details, but some major whoppers, as well. Not only modern scholars, but even some of Herodotus’ contemporaries, scoffed at his claims. Today, many question whether Herodotus had ever traveled beyond Greece, and had instead simply penned The Histories by collecting stories from people he encountered at home. As seen below, many a ludicrous belief that became popular for centuries can be traced back to Herodotus.