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Free course

Herodotus and the invention of history

Free statement of participation on completion
Herodotus and the invention of history

With the information explosion online, how can you tell fake news from the real thing, or be more sensitive to how information can be weaponised? In the fifth century BCE, a Greek by the name of Herodotus faced a similar challenge when he set out to examine why his people, the Greeks, and the Persians went to war with each other. Chief among his tasks was deciding what and whom to believe, as he pieced together the events of the past. His response was to produce an enquiry (in Greek: historiē, which is where the English word ‘history’ comes from). In this free course, Herodotus and the invention of history, explore how Herodotus puts together his enquiry and learn how in doing so he makes the problem of finding out what happened to our own history too. 

Interested in taking your learning further? You might find it helpful to explore the Open University’s Classical Studies courses and qualifications.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • identify the context in which Herodotus was writing and the subject matter of his Histories, as well as key episodes, themes and issues
  • analyse passages of Herodotus' text in order to learn how he presents his material and his methods as a historian
  • evaluate sources (including Herodotus' writing as well as modern-day material) as you assess their reliability and significance
  • discuss aspects of identity in the ancient Greek world, especially the opposition between Greeks and non-Greeks
  • reflect on personal experiences as an informed critical reader.

First Published: 22/04/2024

Updated: 22/04/2024

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