Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the Greek writer known as the father of histories, dubbed by his detractors as the father of lies. Herodotus (c484 to 425 BC or later) was raised in Halicarnassus in modern Turkey when it was part of the Persian empire and, in the years after the Persian Wars, set about an inquiry into the deep background to those wars. He also aimed to preserve what he called the great and marvellous deeds of Greeks and non-Greeks, seeking out the best evidence for past events and presenting the range of evidence for readers to assess. Plutarch was to criticise Herodotus for using this to promote the least flattering accounts of his fellow Greeks, hence the ‘father of lies’, but the depth and breadth of his Histories have secured his reputation from his lifetime down to the present day.

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  • Tom Harrison No other episodes
    Professor of Ancient History at the University of St Andrews
  • Esther Eidinow No other episodes
    Professor of Ancient History at the University of Bristol
  • Paul Cartledge 21 episodes
    A. G. Leventis Senior Research Fellow at Clare College, University of Cambridge

Reading list

  • The Herodotus Encyclopedia
    Christopher Baron (ed.) (Wiley-Blackwell, 2021) Google Books →
  • The Cambridge Companion to Herodotus
    Carolyn Dewald and John Marincola (Cambridge University Press, 2006) Google Books →
  • Herodotus
    John Gould (Bristol Classical Press, 2000) Google Books →
  • The Histories
    Herodotus (ed. Paul Cartledge, trans. Tom Holland) (Penguin, 2014) Google Books →
  • The Landmark Herodotus: The Histories
    Herodotus (ed. Robert B. Strassler, trans. Andrea L. Purvis) (Quercus, 2008) Google Books →
  • The History of Herodotus
    Herodotus (trans. G.C. Macaulay, ed. Donald Lateiner) (Barnes & Noble, 2018) Google Books →
  • Herodotus: A Very Short Introduction
    Jennifer T. Roberts (Oxford University Press, 2011) Google Books →
  • The Persian War in Herodotus and Other Ancient Voices
    William Shepherd (Osprey, 2019) Google Books →

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Programme ID: m000zv33

Episode page: bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000zv33

Auto-category: 930 (History of the ancient world)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello. To some, Herodotus was the father of history.