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The Histories (Greek: ; Ancient Greek: [historíai?]; also known as The Histories) of Herodotus is considered the founding work of history in Western literature. Written in 440 BC in the Ionic dialect of classical Greek, The Histories serves as a record of the ancient traditions, politics, geography, and clashes of various cultures that were known in Western Asia, Northern Africa and Greece at that time. Although not a fully impartial record, it remains one of the West's most important sources regarding these affairs. Moreover, it established the genre and study of history in the Western world (despite the existence of historical records and chronicles beforehand).
The Histories also stands as one of the earliest accounts of the rise of the Persian Empire, as well as the events and causes of the Greco-Persian Wars between the Achaemenid Empire and the Greek city-states in the 5th century BC. Herodotus portrays the conflict as one between the forces of slavery (the Persians) on the one hand, and freedom (the Athenians and the confederacy of Greek city-states which united against the invaders) on the other.
The Histories was at some point divided into the nine books that appear in modern editions, conventionally named after the nine Muses.
Motivation for writing
Herodotus claims to have traveled extensively around the ancient world, conducting interviews and collecting stories for his book, almost all of which covers territories of the Persian Empire. At the beginning of The Histories, Herodotus sets out his reasons for writing it:
Here are presented the results of the enquiry carried out by Herodotus of Halicarnassus. The purpose is to prevent the traces of human events from being erased by time, and to preserve the fame of the important and remarkable achievements produced by both Greeks and non-Greeks; among the matters covered is, in particular, the cause of the hostilities between Greeks and non-Greeks.
-- Herodotus, The Histories, Robin Waterfield translation (2008)
^Herodotus (Book II, 68) claimed that the trochilus bird visited the crocodile, which opened its mouth in what would now be called a cleaning symbiosis to eat leeches. A modern survey of the evidence finds only occasional reports of sandpipers "removing leeches from the mouth and gular scutes and snapping at insects along the reptile's body."
^ abHerodotus (1987). The History, translated by David Gren. University of Chicago Press. ISBN0-226-32770-1. pp. 37-38.
^Arnold, John H. (2000). History: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. 17. ISBN0-19-285352-X.
^Fehling, Detlev (1989). "Some demonstrably false source citations". Herodotus and His 'Sources' . Francis Cairns, Ltd. 50–57. ISBN0-905205-70-7. Lindsay, Jack (1974). "Helen in the Fifth Century". Helen of Troy Rowman and Littlefield. 133–134. ISBN0-87471-581-4
^Macfarland, Craig G.; Reeder, W. G. (1974). "Cleaning symbiosis involving Galapagos tortoises and two species of Darwin's finches". Zeitschrift für Tierpsychologie. 34 (5): 464-483. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0310.1974.tb01816.x.
^Kim, Lawrence (2010). "Homer, poet and historian". Homer Between History and Fiction in Imperial Greek Literature. Cambridge University Press. 30-35 ISBN978-0-521-19449-5. Allan, Williams (2008). "Introduction". Helen. Cambridge University Press. 22-24 ISBN0-521-83690-5. Lindsay, Jack (1974). "Helen in the Fifth Century". Helen of Troy. Rowman and Littlefield. 135-138. ISBN0-87471-581-4