The Invention of Herodotus

Many thanks to Ray Kierstead [history 1978– 2000], Peter Steinberger [political science 1977–], and Reed for returning focus on Herodotus and the histories he created. For, as Professor Kierstead reminds us, his account of the conflict between the Greeks and Persians is not a mere chronicling of facts, but the primal recognition that “time is the working out of such archetypical patterns” as reversals of fortune, pride, and punishment, and crime and retribution. As Henry Immerwahr so brilliantly illustrated, form and thought are originally unified by the father of history, the idea of which is perhaps as much akin to Platonic philosophy as to Sophoclean drama. The great Croesus story is indeed the seminal episode in the Histories and interlocks concentrically with the ultimate account of the Persian Wars. So, it generates the awful realization that any linear interpretation of history is, at the very least, simplistic. And it sustains my belief that Herodotus and his intellectual descendants currently less regarded—Hegel, Freud, Camus—are the better guardians of history.

Marc Madden ’71

Corte Madera, California