Many a Mistaken Belief Can be Traced Back to Herodotus
The Father of History rightly deserved his other moniker, the Father of Lies, because of his tall tales. A typical Herodotus whopper was his narrative about the struggle between giant one eyed Cyclopes and half-eagle, half-lion, griffins, who inhabited northern Europe. Per Herodotus, the griffins roosted over and guarded stockpiles of gold, which were frequently raided by the one eyed giants. Herodotus did not narrate this story as the retelling of a myth, but as a belief that he took to be gospel truth.
Another Herodotus tall tale was about giant, gold-digging ants. As he told it, ants the size of foxes lived in the Persian Empire’s eastern provinces, in deserts whose sands abounded with gold dust. As they dug their anthills, mounds, and tunnels, they unearthed the gold dust, and the locals grew wealthy sifting through the giant ants’ excavations. Few if any Greeks had ever been to the faraway lands described by Herodotus. Thus, for centuries, the ancient Greeks, and later the Romans, treated Herodotus’ tales of weirdness in distant lands as literal truths.