AN ACCOUNT OF EGYPTby Herodotus
Little is known of Herodotus's life beyond what can be deduced from his writings. He was born in 485 B.C., or perhaps a few years earlier, in Halicarnassus, a small Greek city on the coast of Asia Minor. His family was wealthy and perhaps aristocratic, but while he was still quite young they were driven from the city by a tyrant named Lygdamis. Herodotus lived for… See more details below
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Little is known of Herodotus's life beyond what can be deduced from his writings. He was born in 485 B.C., or perhaps a few years earlier, in Halicarnassus, a small Greek city on the coast of Asia Minor. His family was wealthy and perhaps aristocratic, but while he was still quite young they were driven from the city by a tyrant named Lygdamis. Herodotus lived for several years on the island of Samos and at a later date, is said to have returned to Halicarnassus to take part in the overthrow of the tyrant, but he did not remain there.
Herodotus spent several years of his early manhood in unusually extensive traveling. One early trip was to the Black Sea, where he appears to have sailed along both the south and west coasts. Later he went by sea to the coast of Syria, then overland to the ancient city of Babylon, and on his way back he may have traveled through Palestine to Egypt. He certainly visited Egypt at least once, probably after 455 B.C. It is possible that he went on his travels primarily as a trader, for in his writings he shows great interest in the products and methods of transport of the countries he describes, and few Greeks of his generation could have afforded to make such lengthy journeys purely for pleasure. He made excellent use of his opportunities, inquiring everywhere about the customs and traditions of the lands through which he passed and amassing a great store of information of all kinds.
About 450 B.C. Herodotus went to live for a time in Athens. During his stay there he is said to have become a close friend of the poet Sophocles. Another tradition, that he also became intimate with the great Athenian statesman Pericles, is much less reliable. After a time, however, Herodotus migrated to the Athenian colony of Thurii in southern Italy, which remained his home for the rest of his life. The date of his death is uncertain; the latest events he mentions in his writings took place in 430 B.C., and it is usually supposed that he died not long afterward.
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