- Herodotos -
Born in Halicarnassos somewhere between 490 and 480 BC, Herodotos travelled throughout the Antique World and visited Egypt extensively at around 450 BC, when the country was under Persian domination.
He retired to Thurii in Italy, where he finished his main accomplishment, the Histories, an account of the countries he visited. He died in between 430 and 420 BC.
Herodotos mainly visited the North of Egypt, the Delta, where there were some Greek collonies, and Memphis. A detailed description of Thebes is missing in his accounts, which lays doubt on his claim that he travelled as far South as Elephantine (Aswan).
Herodotos' value lies in the fact that he tried to accurately describe what he saw in Egypt during his travels. His is the oldest and most extensive and comprehensive account of the Ancient Egyptian civilisation.
As a historian, however, Herodotos is far overcredited. Although he did try to distinguish facts from fiction, when it comes to his historical account of Ancient Egypt, he simply recorded what he was told. His historical account contains many inaccuracies and anecdotes that are probably more the result of folk tale rather than historical facts.
As such, his Histories give us a fair insight into how the Ancient Egyptians viewed their own history. Thus he confirms the Ancient Egyptian tradition which names Menes as their first king. He also states that this Menes was the founder of the city of Memphis, which is probably a reflection of the chauvinism of the Memphite priests who were his main source of information.
He comments on Kheops' despotic and cruel nature, which can also be found in the story recorded on the Westcar Papyrus, where Kheops orders a prisoner decapitated just to see of Djedi the magician can heal the victim and bring him back to life.
Despite his obvious shortcomings, Herodotos has been one of the main sources of knowledge about the Ancient Egyptian civilisation and history for centuries.
Marble bust representing Herodotos.
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|The Ancient Egypt Site created by Jacques Kinnaer||
Last update: 21 July, 2009