May 19, 2005


Herodotus is considered as the father of history. He was given this status because he had written an account of an event by adopting a method which could be called the scientific methodology of writing history for the first time.

Herodotus had cross examined the eyewitnesses in such a manner that the reality of the event which would have existed in its true form had been identified and then recorded.

The second importance or rather the cause of giving the status of fatherhood to Herodotus was that he had written during a period when there was no idea about writing a thing about past which could be categorized under the heading scientific inquiry.

The Grecian mind had developed the theory that the real fact can only be learned and discerned about such a thing which were permanent, which could be checked on one time at one place and reaffirmed with the same conclusion at any time at any place after any duration of time. They had precluded such questions and matters about which nothing was permanent and which were changing continuously. In this category, the events related to man as happening could be called such subjects which could not be subject to analytical evaluation as they were not permanent. History is the subject which try to tell the fact or the account of changing events of man during the past. Hence, it could not be considered fit for analytical evaluation because any conclusion so derived could never be checked and rechecked at all the places and at all the time with the same conclusion. However, Herodotus, who had recorded the event of his time had adopted a methodology which could be considered a scientific evaluation and then recorded his conclusion about that event. Hence, he had started a tradition of recording the events on scientific basis and thus he became the father of history.

However, there are some drawbacks and limitation of his discovery and invention. He had written about a contemporary event only. He had not subjected the facts about the events prior to his recorded event to his evaluation. He had taken them up as it was given to him with the argument that the past events were beyond his capability to verify. He claimed to have recorded them as they were being thought of by general opinion. He had recorded the opinion.

The second limitation is that he had written a record of a living memory with the help of living eyewitness. It means if we want to learn about some event of bygone days, that is of a score of generation back, we would claim that as there is no eyewitness alive to tell us about that time, hence, no such attempt can be made.


Here I write what I have been able to understand and comprehend from the reading of Collingwood, "The Idea of History".

Source Credit: Personal Copy of "The Idea of History"

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