Herodotus (485 B.C.?–425 B.C.), a Greek historian, called “the father of history.” His Historyis the first historical narrative and first great prose work of Greek literature. As factual history, however, it suffers from the fact that Herodotus was not critical in the use of his source materials.

The first two-thirds of Herodotus's work is partly an entertaining description of the many lands and peoples he visited and partly an unreliable history of most of the kingdoms of the eastern Mediterranean. The rest describes the Persian invasions of Greece in 490 and 480 B.C. Herodotus saw this conflict as an unavoidable clash between two different civilizations. His account of Greek heroism at the battles of Marathon, Thermopylae, and Salamis has stirred readers for more than 2,000 years.

Herodotus was born at Halicarnassus, on the southwest coast of Asia Minor (modern Turkey), at that time under the domination of Persia. After his uncle Panyasis, an epic poet, was put to death for conspiring against the Persians, Herodotus went into exile. He became an enthusiastic traveler and visited most of the known world, including Persia, Egypt, and Phoenicia. Herodotus lived in Athens from about 447 to 444 B.C. and then settled in the Athenian colony of Thurii in southern Italy. He was a friend of Sophocles and knew Pericles.