18. The Ridiculous Whoppers Told by “The Father of History”
There are plenty of ridiculous whoppers in Herodotus’ Histories, which he passed along as fact, that earned him the nickname “The Father of Lies”. One such was his narrative about a struggle between giant one eyed Cyclopes and half-eagle, half-lion, griffins, who inhabited northern Europe. According to 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 an event that he believed 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 from sifting through the giant ants’ excavations. Few if any Greeks had ever been to the faraway lands described by Herodotus, so for centuries, the Greeks, and later the Romans, treated Herodotus’ ridiculous tales of far-fetched weirdness in distant lands as literal truths.