Short Biography of a Boring Author

Today, let’s talk about an author that you all consider ever so boring. By the time you finish reading this, however, you’ll realise he’s an author worth reading.

(At least that’s the theory.)

The Author’s Picture

To begin with, let’s have the author’s picture:

With a beard like that he’s obviously boring!

The Author’s Short Biography

For my part, what I consider boring… is biographical facts. So I’m going to keep this part short – mercifully we know next to nothing about him.

Birth & Death

He was born in Halicarnassus in Caria (we know this because he told us) – nowadays called Bodrum in Turkey. He lived in the 5th century B.C. which makes him a contemporary of Socrates (of drinking hemlock fame). However, unlike Socrates, our author died peacefully in his bed. For all we know.

Life (Being the Part between Birth & Death)

Our author is a much travelled person. Even by today’s standards he was well travelled – that means he’s been to more places than I have. His travels took him to Egypt and Tyre, and down the Euphrates to Babylon. He wrote a book about his travels although he then disguised this in the middle of a much longer history book. He’s a single book wonder.

After returning home, he became unpopular in his home town: maybe he dabbled in politics or the locals had enough of his outrageous tales about giant gold-digging ants in India and women urinating standing up in Egypt. So he moved to Athens where the Athenians paid him to shut up and finish his book.

Having finished it, he went to Olympia to read it out at the festival (as was the custom among authors at the time). Here he either:

  1. Waited until there were some clouds so that he could recite his book in the shade by which time the audience had all gone home… Or:
  2. He did recite his book to the audience and made young Thucydides cry. This might be why Thucydides in turn made his own book (only the second history book in history) a rather more boring read.

Three Quotes

Unlike Thucydides, this author is highly entertaining because…

Just like me, he never voluntarily sticks to the point:

Since my history proceeded from the first seeking occasions for digression… (IV.30)

Yet he could be succinct when he wanted to:

For no one is so senseless as to choose of his own will war rather than peace, since in peace the sons bury their fathers, but in war the fathers bury their sons. (I.87)

And he certainly was a more modern thinker than a lot of modern thinkers:

It is clear that not in one thing alone, but in many ways equality and freedom of speech are a good thing. (V.78.)

Father of Lies

Only his enemies called him Father of Lies. His admirers call him Father of History.

I usually just call him by his name: Herodotus.

Read more: Herodotus and the Persian Wars

(Originally written for the monthly Three Quotes feature of Bloggers' World.)

4 thoughts on “Short Biography of a Boring Author

    1. I’m glad I told you something new. 🙂 As for my Best Stories of Herodotus… well, it’s a work in progress. Some posts are better than others – I’m only working out how to share them without boring people as I go along. At some point, I might rewrite some of those that I feel didn’t come out all that well.

      Anyhow, if you want to have a go at reading some, I recommend you go back to the oldest posts (before I got bogged down in the battles against the Persians) to start with: Herodotus and the Persian Wars gives you the background quite well (even though I say so myself). A Trial of Freedom is not bad either… after that, I ended up trying to run through the actual Greek-Persian wars so there’s a lot of battles to read about – I need to finish that off so that I can get to the more entertaining stories he wrote!


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