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Herodotus and the invention of history
Herodotus and the invention of history

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2 Constructing the Histories: writing historically

In Section 1 you learned what Herodotus doesn’t think can count as history (even if it makes a good story), namely a past that is so distant that it cannot be examined. Just as importantly, you also learned that sources are not impartial. People provide accounts that are influenced by their own perspective and experience. In this section you will investigate what Herodotus does think counts as history, and how he goes about writing it in such as way as to alert us to the stakes involved.

A picture of a fragment of papyrus. The piece of papyrus is roughly square in form and clearly torn. The writing on it in Greek capitals is neat and runs in a single column down the centre of the papyrus roll. A ruler on the right indicates that the size of the fragment is roughly 9 cm in length.
Figure 11 Fragment from Herodotus’ Histories, Book 8. Papyrus, early second century CE. Sackler Library, Oxford, Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2099.