Talk:Herodotus

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Wikipedia policy[edit]

It is Wikipedia policy that things be under their MOST COMMON name. Please move "Herodotos" back to "Herodotus" where it was and where by Wikipedia policy it is supposed to be. In the article itself, he should also be called "Herodotus" as that is the way he is generally refered to in English (this IS the ENGLISH Wikipedia). But, by all means, include in the article all the data about the word "Herodotos" and how it relates to this guy. Thanks. 4.250.168.94 18:52, 6 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I agree with you. Care to list it on WP:RM? dab () 19:43, 6 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Done, although the talk page is still at Herodotos...this one will have to be deleted, but I wanted to let you know first. Adam Bishop 19:53, 6 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Herodotos is just an alternative transliteration of the Greek which is more faithful than the Latinized Herodotus. In anglophone scholarship, he appears about a 1/3 of the time as Herodotos. ajc--Ajcee7 09:01, 17 July 2006 (UTC)

Massive issues with the scrutiny of his work areas with sentences ranging from giant ants to the very out of place. Looks like a large section of veiled vandalism with extreme obvious bias.

Integration of material from another Wikipedia article[edit]

The Wikipedia article on the Battle of Plataea has some great information (all cited appropriately) on Herodotus (in the section called "Sources"):

The main source for the Greco-Persian Wars is the Greek historian Herodotus. Herodotus, who has been called the 'Father of History',[94] was born in 484 BC in Halicarnassus, Asia Minor (then under Persian overlordship). He wrote his 'Enquiries' (Greek—Historia; English—(The) Histories) around 440–430 BC, trying to trace the origins of the Greco-Persian Wars, which would still have been relatively recent history (the wars finally ending in 450 BC).[89] Herodotus's approach was entirely novel, and at least in Western society, he does seem to have invented 'history' as we know it.[89] As Holland has it: "For the first time, a chronicler set himself to trace the origins of a conflict not to a past so remote so as to be utterly fabulous, nor to the whims and wishes of some god, nor to a people's claim to manifest destiny, but rather explanations he could verify personally."[89]
Some subsequent ancient historians, despite following in his footsteps, criticised Herodotus, starting with Thucydides.[95][96] Nevertheless, Thucydides chose to begin his history where Herodotus left off (at the Siege of Sestos), and therefore evidently felt that Herodotus's history was accurate enough not to need re-writing or correcting.[96] Plutarch criticised Herodotus in his essay "On The Malignity of Herodotus", describing Herodotus as "Philobarbaros" (barbarian-lover), for not being pro-Greek enough, which suggests that Herodotus might actually have done a reasonable job of being even-handed.[97] A negative view of Herodotus was passed on to Renaissance Europe, though he remained well read.[98] However, since the 19th century his reputation has been dramatically rehabilitated by archaeological finds which have repeatedly confirmed his version of events.[99] The prevailing modern view is that Herodotus generally did a remarkable job in his Historia, but that some of his specific details (particularly troop numbers and dates) should be viewed with skepticism.[99] Nevertheless, there are still some historians who believe Herodotus made up much of his story.[100]

The Wikipedia article on the Greco-Persian Wars repeats the exact same information.

I think that this information is incredibly relevant to this article here and that someone should try and integrate it in. I would do it myself, but I am not a very skilled writer and editor of Wikipedia; perhaps someone with more experience at using wikis could try. IonNerd (talk) 12:52, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

Father of Lies[edit]

Oh yes, he was the Baba Gee of lies, maybe something in their can be written on the extent of lies he told about the persians, one which can be fully proven to be false is the number of the Persian army under xerxes... who traveled into Greece.... he said with confidence that that number was more than 1.7 million which is a lie, an article in iranchamber.com (podium section) gathers this information and cites modern historians claiming it to be around 100,000 (these are only the conservative ones) others believe the number to be 40,000 .... this is proven by analysing the capacity of the ships xerxes sent to Greece, and accounts about how long it took the army to march over the bridge they built.

this shoudl be included as it is seen in history as one of the biggest fabrication created thanks to herodotus's extreme bias!


Dude, the sheer amount of misspellings and poor grammer (as well as your terrible writing style) don't exactly help your cause. Out of curiousity, why are you so pissed off at a guy who was dead roughly 2300 years before you were born? Sure Herodotus had some false information, but what leads you to believe that INCREASING the size of the invading force is evidence of bias. Leaving aside the fact that you seem to pick and choose ancient accounts to believe, how is a miscount tantamount to delibrite fabrication? There are plenty of arguments to be made against Herodotus, this one sucks ass.

You spelt "grammar" wrong, lol.

Herodotus has always mentioned Persia as a group of evil, crazy, lunatics. He has said that they were cruel beings that enslaved much of the world. And that the Greeks were great people who's way of democracy was the perfect form of government. Now, here's a question, why did Herodotus choose to live in Persia rather than Greece? A possible answer defending him - he sacrificed his life trying live in an evil nation to write about them and tell the rest of the world and the people of the future about the cruelty of Persia. Well then why didn't Persia enslave him, sentence him to death, or even imprison him?

Response to above: I am sorry, but have you actually READ the Histories? Herodotus is not generally considered to have been "biased" or "racist" against the Persians - in fact, a lot of his fellow Greeks denigrated him because they thought that he had depicted the Persians TOO WELL... They would call him "philo-barbarian" - a "lover of barbarians" - because he seemed to respect and admire other cultures and civilizations too much. In other words, many Greeks felt he was too "internationlist" and not "patriotic" enough. I would highly suggest that before you post such claims again, you should actually READ the Histories. You will be plesantly surprised I think to find that some of the most interesting, most noble, most intelligent, and most wise characters in the Histories are not Greeks, but Persians.... look up the names "Artabanus" (also spelled "Artabanos") or "Otanes" - these two Persians present speeches that form a crucial thematic core for the Histories, and they are definitely described in very glowing terms by Herodotus. Or, just turn to the last page of the text and read the final speech that Cyrus gives to the Persians - it basically encapsulates Herodotus' view of the Persian Empire, and you will find that is not what you may have thought!

More on Herodotus' biography: To try to rectify the record, Herodotus was born in Halicarnassus around 484 BCE (the modern-day city of Bodrum in Turkey), which was indeed at the time part of the Persian Empire. However, it is believed that he left following a failed rebellion against Persian rule in 457 BCE (in which a relative of his, Panyassis, took part - perhaps Herodotus himself was also involved in the uprising, or at least supportive of it?). It seems that he spent the next ten years doing most of the travels that would supply the core of his information for the Histories (the topic of exactly where he went and when, and who he talked to, is another matter altogether).

Anyway, around 447 BCE, he arrived in Athens, where he seems to have associated with the intellectual elite centered on its leader, Pericles - including such figures as the orator Antiphon, the musician Damon, the philosophers Protagoras and Zeno, and the playwrights Euripides (author of Medea and the Bacchae among others) and Sophocles (of Oedipus Rex-fame). However, since it was very difficult to become a citizen of Athens, he left Athens in 443 BCE to join a group of colonists in founding the city of Thurii in southern Italy (he thereby would have become a citizen of Thurii since he was one of the "founding fathers"). He died in Thurii in either 425 or 414 BCE (there is some disagreement among the sources).

All of this information can be found in the "Barnes & Noble Classics" edition of the Histories; it is translated by G.C. Macaulay and has an excellent introduction by Donald Lateiner (from which introduction by Lateiner the above bio has been written).

Anyone noticed that in the article, it said that Herodotus "actually criticized Aristotle and other poets who wrote about the past for distorting it"? Isn't Aristotle after Herodotus' time?

New Archeological Evidence[edit]

Herodotus has been called the "Father of Lies" as the article states, but new archeological evidence has proven that at least some of what Herodotus wrote that was doubtful is actually true. Two examples that come immediately to mind are the recent discoveries of Scythian burial sites which parallel Herodotus' descriptions and a dedication by Sostratus, a wealthy Greek who is mentioned in "The Histories". It seems to me that this recent reassessment of Herodotus should be mentioned [I'm not sure if it's up to the original writer but thought it should be noted].

I've removed this sentence (which predates the above comments) "Recent archaeology has begun to prove his Histories were largely accurate." I don't know what discoveries this refers to to, but it seems inappropriate to anticipate the results of archaelogical research by saying that it has begun to prove something as yet unproved. The concept of "largely accurate" is also highly ambiguous. No one has ever thought that the Histories were completly made up (Sostratus, for example, is mentioned by other writers). Paul B 16:04, 16 October 2005 (UTC)

Somebody at IP: 160.39.147.17 vandalized the page and it needs to be reverted.

Doubt[edit]

I have and doubt: Who whas the Herodotus book that talk about the existence of lions in Greece and Balkans in your time??

   Are you saying you doubt that there were lions in Greece and the Balkans, or you doubt that Herodotus mentions them? --Dcsmith 02:17, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

there were lions in the ancient meditteranian until they were over hunted by the romans among others because they were popular for the colloseum.Several historians say this including Philip Matzyk (pico)

Herodotus "Father of Lies"[edit]

I just think overall this section needs more source citation, either pro or con. The only source listed is one that validates a Herodotus claim. I'm sure there is more out there. Agne27 20:24, 16 June 2006 (UTC)

I think the entire article need citations. Just take a look at the Article about the Mormons and see how good Wiki is at that. If only some of that energy were directed towards serious articles like this one... —Preceding unsigned comment added by 69.86.200.65 (talk) 02:17, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Major Renovation[edit]

This article in no way reflects the state of scholarship on Herodotus at the moment. The following I feel should be rectified:

  • It takes an overly sceptical view of his work which is now generally discounted as misconceiving the aims and nature of his work. Detlev Fehling's rabidly anti-herodotean stance claiming that he is a 'liar' has been roundly shown to fundamentally miss the point and import modern ideas about historiography, culture and society into a context in which they inevitably make no sense (the locus classicus contra Fehling is Nino Luraghi's article "local knowledge in herodotus", but see also Flory, Thomas, Gould, Griffiths etc).
  • The two main developments in herodotean studies, oral tradition and sophistic influence, are nowhere mentioned. For oral tradition, Rosalind Thomas' "Orality and Literacy in Ancient Greece" is best, along with the articles in which she addresses her findings to the problem of Herodotus. With regard to sophistic influence, again Thomas' "Herodotus in Context: Ethnography, Science and the Art of Persuasion" is key, along with the insights of R.L.Myres, though Thomas' book being so new (relatively speaking - 2000), the full implications have not cohered themselves into several more works in this area quite yet.
  • This leads in to the wider question of Herodotus as an 'historian'. His intellectual interests were far wider than this and history, rather than a profession as it is today, was a new genre which he created in order to cohere his other interests (incidentally, the fact that he is creating a genre instantly puts pay to Fehling's claim that he is lie and fabricating, since this would presuppose a genre to parody which, a priori, is impossible).
  • It should be noted that the majority of authobiographical material about Herodotus is apocryphal, created either in the ancient tradition to fit with the characteristics of his work, or by modern scholars to help massage evidence from Herodotus to fit their theories (this is now less the case, but was typical of those who would 'correct' Herodotus, e.g. Cawkwell, Burn, de Ste Croix, How & Wells, Grote etc.)
  • A discussion of the relative merits of different translations would be helpful - there is certainly an alarming disparity in quality between the various texts, with some cutting out sections deemed 'improper' altogether (e.g. blind scythian slaves shoving pipes up the vaginas of female horses to milk them).
  • In the last few years, a trend has emerged in the scholarship which increasingly argues for the ubiquity of events contemporary to Herodotus being reflected in his historical interpretation of the past. Crucially, this brings Herodotus far closer in method to Thucydides in his method, since, though in different ways, they thus both become historians of their own time. Certainly, the indirect and direct approaches to contemporary histroy which their styles encapsulate can be said to be two sides of the same coin. The importance of a genos, polis or ethne's history was of immediate political significance in diplomatic disputes, social interaction and the creation and manipulation of identity. Thus, Herodotus' work is not antiquarian, but in many respects rather daring in coming to fairly frank and uncomfortable conclusions about important families (the Alcmeonids most notably), poleis (Sparta, Athens and Corinth primarily) and ethnai (in particular the Ionians).
  • Considering how major this all is, I have removed the recommendation for this article to be put on Wikipedia CD since it is in such a state it may as well be a stub.

ajc --Ajcee7 09:31, 17 July 2006 (UTC)

This critique is as perceptive and relevant today as it was last year when it was written. Too bad we appear to have lost this editor. Time to get out the books and do some work. Alcmaeonid 18:22, 1 October 2007 (UTC)

The above criticisms remains valid in 2012. This is the poorest example of accuracy and scholarship by far I have seen on Wikipedia though there are certain speculative ideas here that though unorthodox should merit further thought. Though the Historia of Herodotus remains something of an enigma in both the validity of its content at least as claimed by its author, the final comments of the 2006 criticism as to the contemporary context have continued to be strengthened. The context of the onset of the events leading to the Peloponnesian War were initially raised by Charles Fornara in the 1950's and the late fifth century intellectual milieu was further explicated by Kurt Raaflaub, Rosalind Thomas, and others. Herodotus was highly original and revolutionary in his undrestanding of human sociaty and politics. Midway between history, literature, aethnography, and social commentary, he was more the Father of the Social Sciences in total than just the Father of History. The Wikipedia editors should encourage someone in the field to completely revise this artcile in a balanced and even-handed manner. SJF 2012 — Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.73.231.112 (talk) 21:23, 28 August 2012 (UTC)

Sahara sandstorm[edit]

The History Channel recently aired a program called The Sahara (9/23/06). They said Herodotus reported a Saharan sandstorm that killed 40,000 people, though modern historians do not believe it. Do you know where that might be found in his writings? (I tried to navigate The History Channel's website to ask this questions but without success.)

Cultural depictions of Herodotus[edit]

I've started an approach that may apply to Wikipedia's Core Biography articles: creating a branching list page based on in popular culture information. I started that last year while I raised Joan of Arc to featured article when I created Cultural depictions of Joan of Arc, which has become a featured list. Recently I also created Cultural depictions of Alexander the Great out of material that had been deleted from the biography article. Since cultural references sometimes get deleted without discussion, I'd like to suggest this approach as a model for the editors here. Regards, Durova 17:49, 18 October 2006 (UTC)


citations[edit]

people keep asking for citations for passages in the book! you wouldnt do that in harry potter would you


?? Liar ??[edit]

Did Herodotus say anything that Christian church does not like? If yes, then he will be called by all bad names by Christian historians.

Index of places and people[edit]

Any reader Herodotus will be frustrated by the very large number of unfamiliar (ancient) place names and, to a somwhat lesser extent, personal names. Does anyone know of a good index or map to accompany the reading? (please respond to my personal page) Many thanks. --Philopedia 17:20, 15 June 2007 (UTC)

Unnecessary? (in contributions section)[edit]

"For example, he reports that the annual flooding of the Nile was said to be the result of melting snows far to the south, and comments that he cannot understand how there can be snow in Africa, the hottest part of the known world; he concludes that the snow must be from Mount Kilimanjaro, a very large mountain in southern Africa.[citation needed] Although this hypothesis proved to be wrong, if it were not for Herodotus' method of comparing all theories known to him, we might never have discovered that such speculation existed in ancient Greece."

The point being asserted is merely that Herodotus' speculation proves to us today that such a speculation existed. It doesn't add any value to the article, nor does it enhance a reader's understanding of Ancient Greece or Herodotus; it is just a triviality that, although interesting, is not significant enough to be deemed one of Herodotus', the Father of History's contributions to human thought. It appears to be a subtle, even covert, attempt to erode the historian's reputation outside of the criticism section.

Response to above: Actually, this may not be an attempt to "erode the historian's reputation" but rather an actual defense of Herodotus' style and methodolgy - essentially, the point is made that Herodotus was using a "scientifically" objective method to weigh and compare the various sources of evidence that were available to him. In other words, Herodotus neither reported the very first idea that he heard nor was he satisfied with simple, widespread rumors or beliefs. Rather, he is consciously and meticulously investigating each claim that he had access to. Thus, even though he may have been wrong in the end (but then again, can we really expect that anyone in the ancient world would have had reliable geographic data? In an era before longitude and latitude, before even the idea that the Earth was in fact round, maps lacked any modern notion of "accuracy" or "veracity"), Herodotus is using a sound scientific method to derive his theory using the evidence he could find. The contribution is not the final answer, but the method by which Herodous worked. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 129.110.241.33 (talk) 19:59, 11 January 2008 (UTC)

Suspicions about copyrighted material[edit]

Some of the material on this page - particular under the 'contribution' sub head - seems very familiar, and I'm sure I've read it somewhere else recently. I can't put my finger on it. Tom Holland's Persian Fire, maybe? I need to check. However, in the meantime, could someone who has really read around the topic give it a quick look and see if it rings any bells? Particularly the material about the crossing of 'liminal' spaces. I may well be imagining this completely, in which case I offer my profound apologies to whoever wrote it.Bedesboy 22:43, 24 July 2007 (UTC)

Apology or Encyclopedia article?[edit]

The article sounds as if it is essentially defending the implausibilities within Herodotus's work.

While it is understandable to list counterpoints within an article, the entire 'Criticisms' section sounds apologetic. This article barely touches on the fact that Herodotus was a secondary source himself, and that almost all of his military figures for the Persian Wars are false by better than a 1000%+ margin of error. Some of his stories relating to Cyrus the Great are not supported historically either. Herodotus, throughout the Persian Wars, paints the Greeks as patrons for freedom... He completely ignored the fact that the majority of Sparta was living in the Helot caste, over a third of Athenians were enslaved, and women within Athens were property at best. Women and religious minorities within the Persian Empire were granted more rights than in probobly any other classical empire, despite the fact that it was an autocracy. Further, not all Greek states were even democratic, which makes Herodotus's claims even more bizarre. The fact that he peacefully lived within the Persian Empire his entire life is also considerable, when one looks at how much disgust he has for the empire in his writings. He certainly wasn't thrown in prison for his beliefs like many Greek scholars were (for supposedly being pro-Persian). If anything, one could make a fair argument that the Persians were closer to a free society when it comes to free speech, freedom of residence, minority protection, religious freedom, and women's rights. The Persians were also pivotal in ending Human Sacrifice throughout their territories. But of course, Herodotus paints them as devil hordes. My statements above by no means prove that Herodotus was completely false or that he was purposefully lying, but it does expose him as blatantly partisan in his work. By no means should he be passed off as an objective historian.

Response to above: I am sorry, but have you actually READ the Histories? Herodotus is not generally considered to have been "biased" or "racist" against the Persians - in fact, a lot of his fellow Greeks denigrated him because they thought that he had depicted the Persians TOO WELL... They would call him "philo-barbarian" - a "lover of barbarians" - because he seemed to respect and admire other cultures and civilizations too much. In other words, many Greeks felt he was too "internationlist" and not "patriotic" enough. I would highly suggest that before you post such claims again, you should actually READ the Histories. You will be plesantly surprised I think to find that some of the most interesting, most noble, most intelligent, and most wise characters in the Histories are not Greeks, but Persians.... look up the names "Artabanus" (also spelled "Artabanos") or "Otanes" - these two Persians present speeches that form a crucial thematic core for the Histories, and they are definitely described in very glowing terms by Herodotus. Or, just turn to the last page of the text and read the final speech that Cyrus gives to the Persians - it basically encapsulates Herodotus' view of the Persian Empire, and you will find that is not what you may have thought!

Some of his outlandish claims have recently been defended with new information, but that doesn't mean we need sentences like this in an encyclopedia article: "Herodotus was, however, by his day's standards, reasonably accurate in his accounts, respectful of evidence, and a master of narrative. It is unfair, in other words, to condemn him for relating tales of giant man-eating ants, if such stories were told to him." By Herodotus's day's standards, there wasn't exactly an established field of history like there was for astronomy and mathematics. This claim doesn't say much. The second sentence essentially apologizes for the mythological nature of Herodotus's work. Whether or not Herodotus's intention was for "The Histories" to be mythological or factual, the fact of the matter is: much of it is mythological or embellished.


"Herodotus is now recognized as a pioneer not only in history, but in ethnography and also anthropology." - Again, why is Herodotus being glorified in the Criticisms section? Regardless, I highly doubt there is a consensus on this claim.


Herodotus's work is interwoven with too much fairy tale to truly be defended as fervently as this article does. Herodotus's work was interesting, but it was, in many ways, good literature more than it was reliable history.

In support of the point raised in this section: the contents of this article are actually extremely out of date. It is a typical example of how popular knowledge stays stuck in 19th century levels of knowledge. Indeed, if you read any academic study on Herodotus from the past 20 years or so, you will find very little correspondence with this Wikipedia article. Depicting Herodotus as a historian in the modern meaning of the word makes no sense, and trying to defend his text to show that it either really was historically accurate or only wrong because his sources misinformed him, is equally bizarre. Herodotus' text was composed for an audience that expected certain things (both regarding contents and kind of stories), and engaged with scientific and philosophical theories of his time. Both of these considerations will have taken precedence over attempts to be truthful. Actually, to see trying to be truthful (or objective) as a virtue is a modern historical concept. Few researchers now think it was something that will have particularly motivated Herodotus. This automatically also makes discussions about whether or not his sources were accurate of secondary importance. I don't have time to rewrite the page myself (it would require a *major* overhaul to make it entirely up to date); but for anyone interested, check for example the following publications: R. Bichler, Herodots Welt: Die Aufbau der Historie am Bild der Fremden Länder und Völker, Ihrer Zivilisation und Ihrer Geschichte (Berlin 2000); R. Thomas, Herodotus in Context: Ethnography, Science and the Art of Persuasion (Cambridge 2000); R. Bichler and R. Rollinger, Herodot (Darmstadt 2000); E.J. Bakker, I.F.J. de Jong and H. van Wees (eds.), Brill's Companion to Herodotus (Leiden 2002). I know, saying that I don't have time is a lame excuse; that's how researchers always dodge having to write popular articles (and how the public never finds out what new ideas there are). But this is not even my field of study. In the meantime, maybe at least some kind of banner or note can be added to the page, notifying reader of the problems with its contents? Cheimoon (talk) 15:17, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

The "Further reading" section[edit]

The Further reading section of this article is out of hand with listings that are likely mostly promotional in nature. I think it should at least be trimmed down, but I would be more satisfied to eliminate it entirely. Thoughts? Ashanda (talk) 01:19, 27 April 2008 (UTC)


Gold photo[edit]

I don't see the relevance of the newly added photo of panned gold from Alaska. It should be removed if it IS in fact irrelevant. Kdammers (talk) 04:40, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

The text alongside is all about gold-dust, which is what the picture shows. Irrelevant? Try reading the article. Peterlewis (talk) 05:06, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
The phot is of nuggets. There is no scale to the photo, so it hardly adds any-thing specific. Why don't we also include a picture of a marmot - that would be much more useful? Kdammers (talk) 05:21, 3 May 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Kdammers that the photo of gold is not needed in this article. Presumably most people will know what gold is, and if they don't, they can look it up elsewhere in Wikipedia. I feel that this picture of gold nuggets doesn't enhance a reader's understanding of Herodotus or his work. --Kyoko 06:31, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

"Presumably" is a loaded question. The whole idea of an encyclopedia is to educate and inform. Not many people have actually seen a nugget or gold dust, and the story of gold-digging ants is famous. These articles on historians and classical authors are very poorly illustrated, so why not include your picture of a marmot? Peterlewis (talk) 06:50, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

You have a point about the fame of the gold-digging ants, and I also see why you might want to break up that section of text with an image. At the same time, I wouldn't want to see it become cluttered. At the very least, I suggest removing the caption, because Alaska has nothing to do with Herodotus. --Kyoko 07:02, 3 May 2008 (UTC)

Bust[edit]

The familiar bust has now been labeled as uncertain. Perhaps we should instead use the bust here: http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/hh/index.htm if it is available. Kdammers (talk) 11:33, 29 May 2008 (UTC)

Father of History? You are kidding, right? Please correct![edit]

How come that someone who lived during the 5th century BC can be claimed as the Father of History. 3'500 years before him History has been written. Ancient history is the study of the written past from the beginning of recorded human history. The span of recorded history altogether is roughly 3'000 years before Herodotus, with Sumerian cuneiform being the oldest form of writing discovered so far. This is the beginning of history by the definition used by most historians. (source: Wikipedia!)

"History Begins at Sumer" is a book written by Samuel Noah Kramer (1897–1990), one of the world's leading Assyriologists and a world renowned expert in Sumerian history and Sumerian language. The book answers the following questions: - Which civilization had the first system of law? - The first formal educational system? - - The first tax cut? - The first love song?


The answers were found in excavations of ancient Sumer, a society so developed, resourceful, and enterprising that it, in a sense, created history. The book presents a cross section of the Sumerian "firsts" in all the major fields of human endeavor, including government and politics, education and literature, philosophy and ethics, law and justice, agriculture and medicine, even love and family. (Source: book description from Amazon)

As a consequence, History has been recorded millenia before Herodotus!

So, how come is he still seen as the Father of History? Is he a great Historian? Absolutely. The Father of History? Please reconsider, and correct the entry. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 130.223.171.14 (talk) 14:56, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

It's your problem understanding the text. He was the Father of the study of History. --GnuDoyng (talk) 06:56, 25 November 2008 (UTC)

slave labor & pyramids[edit]

Where does H say that slaves built the pyramids? I searched the Gutenberg eText (maccauley translation) of Vol. 2 for the word "slaves" and also for "pyramid." I got no hits for the former. The discussions of pyramids include the following:

"he then bade all the Egyptians work for him. So some were appointed to draw stones from the stone-quarries in the Arabian mountains to the Nile, and others he ordered to receive the stones after they had been carried over the river in boats, and to draw them to those which are called the Libyan mountains; and they worked by a hundred thousand men at a time, for each three months continually. Of this oppression there passed ten years while the causeway was made by which they drew the stones, which causeway they built, and it is a work not much less, as it appears to me, than the pyramid; for the length of it is five furlongs and the breadth ten fathoms and the height, where it is highest, eight fathoms, and it is made of stone smoothed and with figures carved upon it. For this they said, the ten years were spent, and for the underground he caused to be made as sepulchral chambers for himself in an island, having conducted thither a channel from the Nile. For the making of the pyramid itself there passed a period of twenty years;"

"On the pyramid it is declared in Egyptian writing how much was spent on radishes and onions and leeks for the workmen, and if I rightly remember that which the interpreter said in reading to me this inscription, a sum of one thousand six hundred talents of silver was spent; and if this is so, how much besides is likely to have been expended upon the iron with which they worked, and upon bread and clothing for the workmen, seeing that they were building the works for the time which has been mentioned and were occupied for no small time besides, as I suppose, in the cutting and bringing of the stones and in working at the excavation under the ground? Cheops moreover came, they said, to such a pitch of wickedness, that being in want of money he caused his own daughter to sit in the stews, and ordered her to obtain from those who came a certain amount of money (how much it was they did not tell me): and she not only obtained the sum appointed by her father, but also she formed a design for herself privately to leave behind her a memorial, and she requested each man who came in to give her one stone upon her building: and of these stones, they told me, the pyramid was built which stands in front of the great pyramid in the middle of the three, each side being one hundred and fifty feet in length."

repeted deletions of sourced material[edit]

What purpose can possibly be served by deleting biographical material, referenced to modern commentary, from the biography of Herodotus??? Haiduc (talk) 17:46, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

Please stop adding original research to this article. You are making an assertion and then citing (ambiguous, I might add) primary sources to back your claim. What you need to do is supply a verifiable secondary source from a peer-reviewed journal, book published by a university press, etc., that makes this claim (for guidance take a look here).
This edit surprises me because you appear to be a seasoned editor. I urge you brush up on your understanding of sources and their use. ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 13:28, 17 June 2009 (UTC)
You may not have looked carefully at the material and the sources. I will wait a day before restoring the material to give you a chance to do so, as it is valid and properly sourced, even by the standards you purport to apply (one of the sources is published by Oxford). Those standards are a separate issue that I think you are mistaken about, and which, in the way you are applying them, fail the fundamental test of common sense. Maybe you should go back and read more carefully the material you suggested for me, since you seem to be following the letter but flouting the spirit.Haiduc (talk) 15:31, 17 June 2009 (UTC)

This reply surely tests the limits of my good faith. You make no reply to the kernel of the matter and instead throw up a subterfuge. I will try this again and only one more time. After that I will be compelled to proceed with the warning system.

Here it is: You and only you have made this assertion. It is nowhere to be found in your citations. To support it you have created a synthesis of highly ambiguous sources. This is a direct violation of Wikipedia's rule against original research. Since you seem reluctant to consult these sources I will quote directly from them:

Do not put together information from multiple sources to reach a conclusion that is not stated explicitly by any of the sources.

Editors should not make the mistake of thinking that if A is published by a reliable source, and B is published by a reliable source, then A and B can be joined together in an article to reach conclusion C. This would be a synthesis of published material that advances a new position, and that constitutes original research. "A and B, therefore C" is acceptable only if a reliable source has published the same argument in relation to the topic of the article.

So once more I ask you: please stop adding original research to this article. ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 15:00, 18 June 2009 (UTC)

It is hard to respond to your accusations since it is not clear which part of my text you are objecting to. I will nevertheless dissect it here bit by bit and explain how I have justified each passage. And I will wait yet another day before restoring it, unless of course you can show me where I have erred.
He is reported to have had an eromenos. According to Ptolemy Chennus in the Library of Photius, "Plesirrhous the Thessalian, author of hymns, was loved by Herodotus and was his heir; it is he who composed the introduction of the first book of Herodotus of Halicarnassus."<ref: "Καὶ ὡς Πλησίρροος ὁ Θεσσαλὸς ὁ ὑμνογράφος, ἐρώμενος γεγονὼς Ἡροδότου καὶ κληρονόμος τῶν αὐτοῦ" Photius, Library; "Ptolemy Chennus, New History" 190 :/ref>. This of course is a primary source. I am attaching the reference of the original text, so that serious readers will have access to it. This is as per Primary sources that have been reliably published (for example, by a university press or mainstream newspaper) may be used in Wikipedia... and I do not see where I have been careless.
This account has led some historians to assume Herodotus died childless.:ref>"The life of Herodotus drawn out from his book By Friedrich Christoph Dahlmann, George Valentine Cox; p.169:/ref> I have added the Dahlman ref now, to make things clear.
Another story, from the same source, has him dying before his erastes. In his histories, Herodotus does not mention the name of Candaulus' wife, allegedly because of the pain it brings him: "The wife's name was, it is said, passed over in silence by Herodotus because Plesirrhous, whom Herodotus loved, was taken with a woman called Nysia and who was of a family of Halicarnassus, and that he hanged himself when he was unsuccesful with her. It is for this reason that Herodotus does not mention the name of Nysia which was odious to him.[1] I see now that this had been left unreferenced. Was this the problem?
These two discrepant accounts are considered indicative of the literary taste of the age in which they were written. :ref>A Life of Aristotle, Including a Critical Discussion of Some Questions of ... By Joseph Williams Blakesley, p.26; 2009:/ref> Blakesley is here to reflect on the two discrepant accounts. This is a paraphrase of his argument. Let me know if you disagree with it.
Though some have categorized these anecdotes as "deceitful philology," that has to be considered a relative term, applicable to all of Herodotus' work. :ref>A commentary on Herodotus books I-IV By David Asheri, Alan Lloyd, Aldo Corcella, Oswyn Murray, Alfonso Moreno, Barbara Graziosi, p.1 :/ref> This is a close paraphrase of the original, a work published by Oxford University, considered authoritative: "This commentary by leading scholars, originally published in Italian, has been fully revised by the original authors and has now been edited for English-speaking readers by Oswyn Murray and Alfonso Moreno. It is designed for use alongside the Oxford Classical Text of Herodotus, and will replace the century-old historical commentary of How and Wells (1912) as the most authoritative account of modern scholarship on Herodotus." It and the following comment acknowledge the questions raised about the veracity of the two accounts yet are not willing to dismiss the accounts, Asheri claiming that nothing is certain when it comes to Herodotus (as the Wikipedia article itself acknowledges). Asheri also states that Plesirrhous was said to have been Herodotus' lover and heir.
Furthermore, it would be rash to reject them as worthless since they are not of a nature that would suggest it would have been worthwhile inventing them. <ref:The History of Herodotus By Herodotus, John Gardner Wilkinson, Henry Creswicke Rawlinson; p.27; 1859 edition. (p.32 in the 1875 edition):/ref> I have added a note to the ref regarding the different editions. Could that have thrown you off? This last sentence is also a close paraphrase of the original text, I do not see what there is to object here.
I look forward to your comments, and I am sure we can both abstain from turning this into a tempest in a teapot. Haiduc (talk) 18:44, 18 June 2009 (UTC)

This is your response? To put the same citations on the talk page without addressing the key issue of synthesis? This to me is evidence of bad faith. Stop trying to cloud the issue with long, intricate, off-topic replies. Synthesis is the issue. Synthesis.

Maybe an outline will help. Here are your references:

  1. Plesirrhous the Thessalian, author of hymns, was loved by Herodotus and was his heir, a matter that has led some historians to assume Herodotus died childless; it is he who composed the introduction of the first book of Herodotus of Halicarnassus.
  2. The wife's name was, it is said, passed over in silence by Herodotus because Plesirrhous, whom Herodotus loved, was taken with a woman called Nysia and who was of a family of Halicarnassus, and that he hanged himself when he was unsuccesful with her. It is for this reason that Herodotus does not mention the name of Nysia which was odious to him.
  3. These two discrepant accounts are considered indicative of the literary taste of the age in which they were written.
  4. Though some have categorized these anecdotes as "deceitful philology," that has to be considered a relative term, applicable to all of Herodotus' work.
  5. Furthermore, it would be rash to reject them as worthless since they are not of a nature that would suggest it would have been worthwhile inventing them.

1+2+3+4+5 = "He is reported to have had an eromenos". This is a synthesis by definition. No one source explicitly makes the assertion. You as editor, after putting the sources together do—which constitutes original research and is contrary to Wikipedia policy.

And so I ask one last time, please stop adding this original research to the article. This is my final request. If you continue I will begin the warning process on your talk page. ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 19:56, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

The material you claim is missing has been here all along, from Photios: ""Πλησίρροος ὁ Θεσσαλὸς ὁ ὑμνογράφος, ἐρώμενος γεγονὼς Ἡροδότου..." I hope we can now proceed to make this information available to our readers. Haiduc (talk) 22:35, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
I am sorry, I assumed that you could interpret the text. Babelfish gives us "[Plisirroos] ὁ Thessalian ὁ ὑ[mnografos], ἐ[romenos] [gegon]ὼ[s] Ἡ[rodotoy]" but a more fluent rendition might be "Plesirrhous the Thessalian, the hymnographer, was the eromenos of Herodotus." Haiduc (talk) 14:53, 25 June 2009 (UTC)
Interpreting text is not my job nor the job of any editor at Wikipedia. Around here that kind of activity is called original research. If this translation is from a secondary source it needs to be cited. If it is your own it is, again, original research. The translation used by you originally is the one by Henry (marked above as #1) which makes no explicit mention of eromenos.
As an aside, why am I not surprised that you would try to use Ptolemaeus Chennus as a source? Written five centuries after Herodotus' death and described by Photius himself as a work that "abounds in extraordinary and badly imagined information" this "strange history" is viewed in academic circles more as a curio than a piece of serious, useful scholarship. By way of example: the line which precedes the one you quote tells of a talking snake which, through a kind of super-vision, describes the events taking place at the battle of Artemesium to king Xerxes. [1] (It is also a primary source, btw.) Is this the kind of obfuscation to which an agenda-driven editor must resort, to reach his own ends? You appear to have editing talent. Put it to better use.
I hope this ends this little charade. Please allow me to spend my time on more important work. There is much to be done. How about dropping your agenda and joining in? ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 17:34, 26 June 2009 (UTC)
Thank you for your response. I appreciate your opinions about Ptolemaeus, but the interpretation of the text is better left to bona fide academics and published authors, who have been amply quoted in the section I am hoping to add to the article. What they say is that this material is neither more or less dubious then much else about Herodotus, including the rest of the contents of this article, as is acknowledged by the statement in the Biography section to the effect that "How much of this is correct is not known."
So why should we privilege certain dubious information over other dubious information, especially when we are informed by the scholars that it is not dismissible?!
I too believe that we have exhausted the possibilities of this dialogue, so I hope you will not mind if I open it up to the Wikipedia community, in the hope that others will have something to contribute. Haiduc (talk) 18:12, 26 June 2009 (UTC)

RfC[edit]

The validity of the following text is contested. However, it is sourced, and the sources seem to give it as much or as little validity as much of the rest of the information we have about Herodotus, including his own writings, and assert it cannot be dismissed out of hand. Please weigh in. Haiduc (talk) 18:22, 26 June 2009 (UTC)

He is reported to have had an eromenos. According to Ptolemaeus Chennus in the Library of Photius, "Plesirrhous the Thessalian, author of hymns, was loved by Herodotus and was his heir; it is he who composed the introduction of the first book of Herodotus of Halicarnassus."<ref: "Καὶ ὡς Πλησίρροος ὁ Θεσσαλὸς ὁ ὑμνογράφος, ἐρώμενος γεγονὼς Ἡροδότου καὶ κληρονόμος τῶν αὐτοῦ" (Eng tr. by user Haiduc: "Plesirrhous the Thessalian, the hymnographer, was the eromenos of Herodotus.") Photius, Library; "Ptolemy Chennus, New History" 190 :/ref>. This account has led some historians to assume Herodotus died childless.:ref>"The life of Herodotus drawn out from his book By Friedrich Christoph Dahlmann, George Valentine Cox; p.169:/ref>

Another story, from the same source, has him dying before his erastes. In his histories, Herodotus does not mention the name of Candaulus' wife, allegedly because of the pain it brings him: "The wife's name was, it is said, passed over in silence by Herodotus because Plesirrhous, whom Herodotus loved, was taken with a woman called Nysia and who was of a family of Halicarnassus, and that he hanged himself when he was unsuccesful with her. It is for this reason that Herodotus does not mention the name of Nysia which was odious to him.[2]

These two discrepant accounts are considered indicative of the literary taste of the age in which they were written. :ref>A Life of Aristotle, Including a Critical Discussion of Some Questions of ... By Joseph Williams Blakesley, p.26; 2009:/ref> Though some have categorized these anecdotes [referring to Plesirrhous as Herodotus' lover and heir] as "deceitful philology," that has to be considered a relative term, applicable to all of Herodotus' work. :ref>A commentary on Herodotus books I-IV By David Asheri, Alan Lloyd, Aldo Corcella, Oswyn Murray, Alfonso Moreno, Barbara Graziosi, p.1 :/ref> Furthermore, it would be rash to reject them as worthless since they are not of a nature that would suggest it would have been worthwhile inventing them. <ref:The History of Herodotus By Herodotus, John Gardner Wilkinson, Henry Creswicke Rawlinson; p.27; 1859 edition. (p.32 in the 1875 edition):/ref>

It sounds like synthesis to me. If you want to say "He is reported to have had an eromenos"", it needs a reliable secondary source directly stating that. If it is in any way a point important enough to include in the artice, sources should be easily found. Using a primary source and circumstantial evidence is not sufficient. If better sources are found, it still seems very long-winded for a minor point, but that is another issue.YobMod 10:04, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
There is no synthesis whatsoever.
  1. We have a primary source that clearly tells us he had an eromenos. Period. The Wikipedia rules do not say we cannot use primary sources. They merely enjoin us to use primary sources carefully, and only when they are reliable: "Primary sources that have been reliably published (for example, by a university press or mainstream newspaper) may be used in Wikipedia." No one argues with the reliability of the text, it has been the same for 2000 years. And no one is interpreting or drawing conclusions. If it says he had an eromenos that is like having it say he had a wife. We could then safely say in an article "He is said to have had a wife." Thus Ptolemaeus' primary text is sufficient in and of itself and nothing more is needed in order to be able to make that assertion in the article. However, it so happens that in this case we have much more.
  2. We have a work published by Oxford University Press that clearly tells he had a male lover: "Plesirrhous, a Thessalian hymnographer who was said to be Herdotus' lover and heir" which cites the very same source, Ptolemaeus. So we have a further confirmation that the matter has been recognized by a bona fide scholar, from a bona fide press, and even on page 1 of a very recent seminal work (2007) by renowned scholars (David Asheri and Oswyn Murray) presented as very important in its field: "There is no doubt that this commentary provides a monumental and enduring contribution to the study of Herodotus and his Histories. It is magnificent both in the general and in the particular. The General Introduction is written with an awareness of the whole and provides a framework for it."[2]
So the material not only satisfies the Wikipedia requirement that primary sources be used carefully and judiciously, but even satisfies the request by some editors that it be discussed in secondary sources. So where is the synthesis?! Haiduc (talk) 11:26, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
There's no synthesis in saying that H. is reported to have had an eromenos. Ptolemy Chennos says that Plesirrhous was Herodotus' eromenos, and does so in very straightforward Greek. However, Chennos' testimony is not considered trustworthy, and if this material is going to be included, it should be attributed to him specifically, along the lines of "The 1st century AD writer Ptolemy Chennos said that the Thessalian hymnographer Plesirrhous was Herodotos' eromenos..."
We need to be more careful in using the Asheri comentary here. Asheri mentions this bit of Ptolemy Chennos not to discuss whether Herodotus had an eromenos, but to discuss whether the first sentence of Herodotus' Histories ("This is the exposition of the enquiries made by Herodotus of Halicarnassus.") is genuine. Ptolemy Chennos says that Plesirrhous added the sentence; it's this contention that has been labelled "deceiful philology". Asheri is concerned about the authenticity of the first sentence of Herodotus' work, not whether Plesirrhous was really Herodotus' lover or not. Asheri summarizes Ptolemy Chennos as follows: "A writer of the first century AD, Ptolemy Hephaistion or Chennos ('quail'), attributed them to a certain Plesirrhous, a Thessalian hymnographer who was said to be Herodotus' lover and his heir." So Asheri cannot be used to support the idea that Herodotus had an eromenos, only that he was said to have an eromenos. --Akhilleus (talk) 12:57, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
I think we are in agreement here. As I am sure you noticed, the text I have prepared for inclusion in the article begins with: "He is reported to have had an eromenos." We can say no more than that, but certainly we can say no less. The rest is commentary, which puts the matter in the correct light.
And I agree with you about Asheri, his role here is to confirm that this passage has been discussed and analyzed in a secondary source. I make no claim about the veracity of Ptolemaus' account, simply leave the scholars to speak about that. Haiduc (talk) 13:52, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
Why make an RfC and then denigrate the opinion of editors who respond? You are verging on pushing an agenda here, if you are not prepared to listen to those whose opinons you solicit. It does not matter if Ptolemy says in very straightforward Greek that Herodotus had an eromenos - translations by wikipedia editors are OR, by definition — even if those editors are Greek/speak Greek. The translation into English must be in an external source, not least because I imagine the Greek language has changed quite a lot in the intervening 2000 years. So far, we have one english translation that says Plesirrhous "was loved by Herodotus", and one secondary source that interprets that to mean that Plesirrhous was Herodotus's lover. It might therefore be acceptable to get as far as "Herodotus is reported to have had a male lover, Plesirrhous." No published English translation that has been presented thus far says that "Herodotus had an eromenos". Even if it seems incredibly pedantic, to say that "He is reported to have had an eromenos" is synthesis.
You will undoubtedly argue that Plesirrhous was an eromenos, and that the Greek version of the text clearly states this — but until you produce an English translation that says 'eromenos', it will remain OR for you to conclude that. Note that it is irrelevant whether Herodotus did or did not have an eromenos. Indeed, you are probably correct in your assertions; but to get there you have used OR.
Furthermore, as Akhilleus points out, "He is reported..." is basically a weasel construct, which makes it sound as though this is a widely accepted/reported fact. In a case like this, the name of the source should be given. Thus; "The 1st century AD writer Ptolemy Chennos said that the Thessalian hymnographer Plesirrhous was Herodotos's lover".
Further, furthermore, a note on primary sources. Yes, wikipedia allows us to use primary sources. However, just because a primary source is reliably published, that does not make the primary source reliably. Scholarly consensus that the source is reliable is usually required - something that clearly does not exist in the case of Ptolemy Chennos. For instance, I would not write an account of the Battle of Plataea on the basis of Ctesias's account, even if it has been reliably published - because it is universally rubbished by scholars. The existence of a primary source does not mean that it should be used! MinisterForBadTimes (talk) 15:13, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
It is not my intention to denigrate anyone, and I do not see where I might have done so.
Let's see what we are in agreement about. Your suggestion to specify that it is Ptolemaeus who tells us about the eromenos is a sensible one, and the text should be amended as per your recommendation.
It should be quite clear to anyone with any familiarity with the subject that if Herodotus had a lover, it had to be an eromenos. Or are you suggesting that his behavior is contrary to the Greek norm? That would be original research indeed, and proof would have to be brought to support that assertion, that he had a male lover who was not an eromenos.
But more importantly, as for the translation, I have just done a bit of checking of Wikipedia rules, and it seems to me that all of you who claim that a personal translation is "OR" are dead wrong. THIS is what the rules are:

"Where English translations of non-English material are unavailable, Wikipedia editors may supply their own. If such translations are challenged, editors should cooperate in producing one they can agree on. Copyright restrictions permitting, translations published by reliable sources are preferred over those provided by Wikipedia editors."

So if anyone here would like to challenge my translation, please say on what grounds, or provide one of your own. Haiduc (talk) 16:28, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
Good god man what is your comprehension level? The rule you quote begins with: Where English translations of non-English material are unavailable... The translation by Henry has been quoted by you several times!?!?!?!??
Here's a sample of the regard academia has for the author of the source in question:
"Ptolemaeus Chennus—Ptolemy called, for reasons we shall never be able to discover, "the Quail." He was a man who shared the lunatic imagination of a Lucillius or a Petronius and combined it with the rich fantasy of the author of the work ascribed to Dictys of Crete. He told lies as easily as he breathed, he adored the paradoxical and the miraculous, and he saw Homer as an arch-rival. In the whole history of imperial fiction there is no personality who combines so fully the talents of deadpan mendacity, Homeric revisionism, and extravagant narration. The Quail is truly an embodiment of fiction, and yet—for good or ill he inhabited and undeniably reflected the real world... The work read by Photius was an extensive prose account of ancient mythology. It was entitled most appropriately The Paradoxical History. It was also known as the New History. Both titles reflect the fact that it contained (as Photius demonstrates in many pages of summary) a completely irresponsible rewriting of many of the famous stories of the past. All this was accomplished with a completely straight face and in a pose of scholarly precision. Countless authorities were cited for the rectifications advanced, but it has long been apparent that almost all these alleged authorities are known only through Ptolemy the Quail and are mentioned by no one else. It is perfectly clear that he simply made them up." - G. W. Bowersock, Fiction as History, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS, Berkeley, 1997, pp 24-25 [3]
Ptolemy Chennus was a fantasist and not a historian. "Many of the people and details given may be the invention of Ptolemy Hephaestion (also known as Ptolemy Chennos or Chennus) himself, rather than the product of his research. According to the Suda, this fantasist lived in the times of Trajan and Hadrian." [4] 190 note 1. Enough said? ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 17:31, 27 June 2009 (UTC)
Denigration:
  • "...Please weigh in."
  • "...It sounds like synthesis to me..."
  • "There is no synthesis whatsoever..."
Why ask for comment if you are just going to dismiss it out of hand? You may be right, but your tone is not.
More denigration: "it seems to me that all of you who claim that a personal translation is "OR" are dead wrong." Why do you need to adopt that tone?
I am not suggesting anything about Herodotus — you are. The onus therefore is on you to prove your point. "It should be quite clear to anyone with any familiarity with the subject that if Herodotus had a lover, it had to be an eromenos." I am not especially familiar with the subject, but surely he could have been the eromenos himself? For all I know, that is what the Greek text might say.
As for the translation issue, ok, I didn't know that. At this point, I don't think I have much more to contribute to this discussion, since I don't speak Greek, and this has become rather a technical issue. Hmmmmm. MinisterForBadTimes (talk) 17:16, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

Did I misunderstand something? I have looked into the source of the original English translation (not mine). It comes from the site of one Roger Pearse (a personal website, by the looks of it) and his source for the Ptolemaeus is, according to his description: "The complete critical edition is that of R. Henry, in Greek and French: René Henry, Photius: Bibliothéque, CNRS, Paris (1959)" Thus the English translation seems to be Roger's. Henry wrote in French. So we are comparing my translation out of the Greek with Roger's out of the French. Since Roger seems to be no authority and his translation is twice removed from the original, I do not think it should take precedence over mine.

As for your view of the credibility of Ptolemaeus, I respect that but it is beside the point. We already have authoritative commentary that asserts the material is not to be dismissed and that it is no more or less credible than much else about Herodotus That is a matter which the Wikipedia article on Herodotus already acknowledges by stating that "How much of this is correct is not known." So why are we privileging one bunch of uncertain information over another bunch?! It should all be presented as uncertain and the scholars should have their say, as they do, in their cited commentary about Plesirrhous. And let's let the Wikipedia readers decide how to interpret all this, rather than trying to do it for them. Haiduc (talk) 18:11, 27 June 2009 (UTC)

Your opinion of the translation is irrelevant. The fact remains that there is a published translation available which, btw, you used yourself in your original edit. Fortunate for us that this translation was made independent of any agenda—unlike your own.
Also, you are confused about the use of translations. It is one thing to make a translation (in absence of any other) and enter it into the encyclopedia for the better understanding of its readers, quite another to make a translation and then invent an original view of the material based on it. That is a whole different order of things and falls under the rubric of original research.
Regarding your comment above about the use primary sources: you conveniently left out the important qualifying sentence that follows the one you quoted: "Any interpretation of primary source material requires a reliable secondary source for that interpretation." ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 14:33, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

It seems that this RfC has run its course, so I would like to integrate what has been learned here into the proposed text. I will eliminate the spurious translation out of the French with my direct translation from the Greek, as per Wikipedia rules. That should put to rest any notions of synthesis, which already seem to have been refuted anyway. If anyone objects to the accuracy of my translation, please state exactly what errors you think I have made, otherwise, by Wikipedia rules, it will stand as it is, all the more so as user Akhilleus (above) confirms the sense of the Greek original: "Ptolemy Chennos says that Plesirrhous was Herodotus' eromenos, and does so in very straightforward Greek." The previous rendition, translated from French into English on a personal website by a person with no credentials, is of no academic value, cannot be used as a reference, and has been refuted by two Wikipedia editors with knowledge of Greek. It should also be crystal clear that no interpretation whatsoever is involved.

According to Ptolemaeus Chennus in the Library of Photius, "Plesirrhous the Thessalian, the hymnographer, was the eromenos of Herodotus and was his heir."<ref: "Καὶ ὡς Πλησίρροος ὁ Θεσσαλὸς ὁ ὑμνογράφος, ἐρώμενος γεγονὼς Ἡροδότου καὶ κληρονόμος τῶν αὐτοῦ" (Eng tr. by Wikipedia editor Haiduc) Photius, Library; "Ptolemy Chennus, New History" 190 :/ref>. This account has also led some historians to assume Herodotus died childless.:ref>"The life of Herodotus drawn out from his book By Friedrich Christoph Dahlmann, George Valentine Cox; p.169:/ref>

Another story, from the same source, has him dying before his erastes. In his histories, Herodotus does not mention the name of Candaulus' wife, allegedly because of the pain it brings him: "The wife's name was, it is said, passed over in silence by Herodotus because Plesirrhous, whom Herodotus loved, was taken with a woman called Nysia and who was of a family of Halicarnassus, and that he hanged himself when he was unsuccesful with her. It is for this reason that Herodotus does not mention the name of Nysia which was odious to him.[3]

These two discrepant accounts are considered indicative of the literary taste of the age in which they were written. :ref>A Life of Aristotle, Including a Critical Discussion of Some Questions of ... By Joseph Williams Blakesley, p.26; 2009:/ref> Though some have categorized these anecdotes as "deceitful philology," that has to be considered a relative term, applicable to all of Herodotus' work. :ref>A commentary on Herodotus books I-IV By David Asheri, Alan Lloyd, Aldo Corcella, Oswyn Murray, Alfonso Moreno, Barbara Graziosi, p.1 :/ref> Furthermore, it would be rash to reject them as worthless since they are not of a nature that would suggest it would have been worthwhile inventing them. <ref:The History of Herodotus By Herodotus, John Gardner Wilkinson, Henry Creswicke Rawlinson; p.27; 1859 edition. (p.32 in the 1875 edition):/ref>

If no further objections are raised, I will be adding the material to the article in short order. Haiduc (talk) 14:46, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

MinisterForBadTimes is right. You ask for comment and then close your ears to anything that doesn't fit into your agenda. Please be advised that, as I stated above, I will begin the warning process if you re-enter this original research. I have also asked for some more fresh eyes to take a look. ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 15:46, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

What mysterious agenda are you talking about? And, your accusations of OR have already been refuted, please read the discussion carefully. Let me recap:

  1. On June 12th you reverted my work claiming in the ed. sum. OR and PRIMARY. But you were wrong on both counts, since there is no OR. I am not asserting anything not already in the sources or the original text, and primary sources are not disallowed.
  2. On June 16th you again revert the work, despite the addition of another reference, again claiming in the ed. sum. OR and the need for secondary sources, again in error, as per above.
  3. On June 17th you revert yet again despite the addition of more references, and you again claim on the talk page this time that there is ambiguity and that we need secondary sources. But Ashari as secondary source clearly represents Ptolemaeus as saying that P. is the lover of Herodotus, and there is no ambiguity in the Greek text.
  4. On June 18th you respond to my defense by claiming that support for my text "is nowhere to be found in your citations." But it is, in the Greek, which we now have in an accurate translation.
  5. On June 24th you respond claiming "synthesis," at which point I realize where your argument lies, in my (apparently) unjustified inclusion of the term "eromenos." But I hope that by now that has been clarified, it is not "synthesis," it is in the Greek, in black and white.
  6. On June 26, in response to my clarification, showing you exactly where the term "eromenos" is found in the sources, you respond that you are not here to "interpret," and that any translation done by me is "original research." But here you are grossly in the wrong, because looking at a text is not "interpretation" and because your assertion about Wikipedia rules prohibiting editor translations is patently false. At this point you also introduce the notion of the unreliability of Ptolemaeus. But here you are beginning to argue with the cited scholars. As per the citations I provide, they have already acknowledged this aspect.
  7. On June 27th you continue arguing with the sources (?!) You also accuse me of breaking the rules by overriding a previous English translation "by Henry." But this is false, as the translation is obviously not by Henry, as he wrote in French.
  8. Finally, on June 29th, after I show you where you were mistaken regarding the "Henry translation," you again return with the same old, refuted accusations of original research and interpretation, and you continue to cling to a spurious translation.

I am not sure how to address this repetitive obstruction of the referenced text. Please bring in whoever you like, but we need to bring this matter to a close. All your valid objections have been addressed, and the rest have been shown to be invalid or based on false premises. Why do you persist in blocking this material, and what agenda are you accusing me of??? Haiduc (talk) 18:01, 29 June 2009 (UTC)

My that's quite a fanciful narrative, worthy even of the fantasist Chennus, your primary source. What, no mention of Yobmod who told you it was a synthesis? No mention of Akhilleus's observation that you had trouble with your Asheri source, that it cannot be used to support the idea that Herodotus had an eromenos? No mention of MinisterForBadTimes warning about all sources not being equal? and the dangers of trying to translate ancient Greek texts because the language has changed in many ways (which is why we rely on published scholars to do this work)? If one wasn't entirely convinced of your good faith one might leap to the conclusion you were selecting only those things that fit into your plan. I echo MinisterForBadTimes question: why ask for comment and then denigrate those disagree? and ignore all facts contrary?
I have ordered up the sources you are using and intend to scrutinize them carefully. There's something rotten in the state of Wikipedia. ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 10:58, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Alcmaeonid, maybe you can dial back the rhetoric a little bit; it's not making this situation any better. Also, please read what I wrote more carefully; Asheri cannot be used as support that Plesirrhous was H.'s eromenos, but he can be used as support that Ptolemy Chennos reported that Plesirrhous was H.'s eromenos. --Akhilleus (talk) 13:35, 30 June 2009 (UTC)
Since no one seems to have anything else to say, I have posted the material, slightly abbreviated from the version just above. You, Alcmeonid, are welcome to check sources as you see fit, and when and if you do, should you find anything amiss, please let me know. Haiduc (talk) 11:16, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
Whilst the argument over the first part of the section may or may not be over, this does not alter the fact that most of what you have added is simply waffle, which tells us nothing about Herodotus, and is solely intended to justify the use of Ptolemy Chennus as a source. I have therefore removed it. I have edited the first part of the section (without changing the overall message) to draw attention to Chennus's unreliability, and to explain the concept of eromenos further (which is otherwise thrown in at the reader from left-field). MinisterForBadTimes (talk) 15:45, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
I think that the sources are a bit less judgmental about this account. They assert it cannot be dismissed, and that all Greek literature is questionable, and thus the notion of accuracy is not white and black but relative, and this specifically in the context of the Ptolemaeus passage. I also do not see why it is relevant to point out that the account is epitomized. All this seems to me to be waffling intended to disparage the information, while the material removed provided context and educated the reader. But I will not edit your formulation, and will leave it to your discretion. Haiduc (talk) 16:16, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
You are right, the account cannot be dismissed. It may be true. However, it is entirely standard practice to qualify the use of primary sources. Ptolemy Chennus is a late source, and he is much derided. It is also entirely worth pointing out that the article is epitomized; since we do not have the original text, how do we know exactly what Chennus said? Did he say eromenos? Or was that the word used by the person who re-wrote the text? A primary source written by a fantasist (not my words) 700 years after the events in question is an unreliable source; a re-written version of an unreliable primary source is doubly unreliable. When using this source, it is correct to point out its limitations. Even Photius derides Chennus - that's how bad a source he is. Would you write a history of Greece based on Chennus? I suspect not. Why then should this one anecdote not be subject to the same criticism?
As for the material removed, it does not provide context, for the most part it is just more of the doubly unreliable story provided by Chennus, which adds nothing to the main point (which, as far as I understand it, is that Herodotus had an eromenos). "Furthermore, it would be rash to reject them as worthless since they are not of a nature that would suggest it would have been worthwhile inventing them" — what context is provided by this sentence? It is a huge circumloquation, and an entirely negative argument — it does not provide any evidence to actually back up the assertion made by Chennus. MinisterForBadTimes (talk) 16:51, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
I am not the one who said it cannot be dismissed, John Gardner Wilkinson and Henry Creswicke Rawlinson are: "... it would be rash to reject them as worthless." See the refs above, in the text. That's why your derisive formulation strikes me as skewed. I think both perspectives need to be featured, for a balanced preswentation. But as I said, up to you. Haiduc (talk) 17:58, 1 July 2009 (UTC)
PS And, by the way, thank you for your collaboration. This is a much more pleasant way to do business. Haiduc (talk) 18:00, 1 July 2009 (UTC)

Original research[edit]

I have removed the original research once again. Although I applaud the attempt at compromise by MinisterForBadTimes, the rules concerning WP:OR are strict and for very good reason. Wikipedia is not a publisher of original thought. It is also not a democracy. There is no provision that allows the inclusion of original research based on any type of compromise. And the rule applies to history as well as the sciences as per Mr. Wales' statement here: [5].

The OR violations are these:

1.The improper use of a primary source. The foundation of this edit is a primary source. The rule states:

Primary sources that have been reliably published (for example, by a university press or mainstream newspaper) may be used in Wikipedia, but only with care, because it is easy to misuse them. Any interpretation of primary source material requires a reliable secondary source for that interpretation. Without a secondary source, a primary source may be used only to make descriptive claims, the accuracy of which is verifiable by a reasonable, educated person without specialist knowledge. For example, an article about a novel may cite passages from the novel to describe the plot, but any interpretation of those passages needs a secondary source. Do not make analytic, synthetic, interpretive, explanatory, or evaluative claims about information found in a primary source.

The edit constitutes an interpretation not backed by any secondary source. The secondary sources provided only allude to the primary—they in no way endorse the statement.

2. The use of an original translation where a published one exists. The rule is clear: "Where English translations of non-English material are unavailable, Wikipedia editors may supply their own." Since there is a translation published by tertullian.org which can be found here: [6], any original translation is not allowed.

This is enough to close the matter right here. But since I ordered the sources and have taken a careful look at them, I'll post my findings in the following section. My reason for doing this is to clearly separate and differentiate the two discussions.

Unpacking the edit[edit]

The edit fails under other criteria as well.

An unreliable primary source[edit]

Ptolemy Chennus is not a historian but a writer of fantasy. He is regarded in academic circles as a writer of fiction (ref. - G. W. Bowersock, Fiction as History, UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS, Berkeley, 1997, pp 24-25 [7]; & Literary Frauds among the Romans, Author(s): Alfred Gudeman, Source: Transactions of the American Philological Association (1869-1896), Vol. 25 (1894), pp.150, Johns Hopkins University Press.[8]) In all the quite extensive secondary literature on Herodotus written in the 20th & 21st century there is not a single instance of Chennus being used as a source of biographical information. Period. If someone can find one, please let us know.

Misused secondary sources[edit]

The Blakesley source has been used improperly. If you read the source here: (pp 25-26) [9] you will understand that, far from affirming the content, the author is citing the Chennus source as an "amusing instance" of how "vague statement can burgeon into circumstantial narrative" when separated by many centuries. He also talks about how writers like Chennus felt compelled to make up details for their readers. The source speaks of Chennus' inventions in a mocking tone, e.g. "Not to mention the secret death of Hercules, Achilles, and other celebrated characters, we are informed of the name of the Delphian..." etc. On top of that there is no explicit mention of any eromenos only the assertion that Plesirrhous had inherited Herodotus' property and wrote the preface to his History.

The Asheri source is also forced into service not meant by the author. As Akhilleus pointed out above, the kernel of the matter here is the supposed authorship by Plesirrhous of the first sentence of the Histories. In the next paragraph Asheri cautions: "A guiding rule should be to look for biographical information about an ancient author in his own work, rather than relying on apocryphal reconstructions. (ital.s mine.) Read it yourself here: [10]

The Wilkinson source is not an endorsement by any stretch of the imagination. Instead it is merely a caution not to dismiss them out of hand: "These statements rest, it must be admitted, on authority of the least trustworthy kind ; but it seems rash to reject them as worthless. They have no internal improbability ; and it is in their favour that they are not such as it would have been worth any man's while to invent." This was written in 1862. Much scholarship has passed under the bridge since then and not one mainstream source has done anything but reject them as worthless. Add to that the fact that even here there is no mention of eremenos. Wilkinson merely states that Plesirrhous is said to have inherited Herodutus's property and brought out all his work after his death.

Conclusion[edit]

Add it all up and this edit indeed is shoddy scholarship at best, at worst a misuse of sources to fit into an editing agenda. It has no place in an encyclopedia. ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 17:02, 6 July 2009

Comment from the RfC: I'm not certain who wrote the above, but I largely agree with what has been said. Ptolemy is not a reliable source of accurate historical information; he is widely know to have written historical fiction and to have taken gross liberties with the actual facts. This is in no way a source to hang such a claim on.

In reference to the secondary sources, they seem to be used in a context that they do not actually support. The ones I was able to access do not confirm the claim - they do mention it, but as said above, Blakesley does so to point out the kinds of fanciful additions authors used to entice people to read their "historical" works. A better reading of the secondary sources would be to directly contradict Ptolemy's statement or at the very least, seriously question its accuracy.

I'm not convinced that Ptolemy's fantasy deserves being mentioned at all, but if it does it should be stated with the provision that later historians generally found this claim, like many of his other claims, highly unlikely. Shell babelfish 04:56, 14 July 2009 (UTC)

Sorry, didn't realize I hadn't signed the above. I have added my sig. above. And now, please join me in ridding the article of this spurious edit. Regards, Alcmaeonid (talk) 14:10, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Eromenos question[edit]

Alcmeonid, I have looked very carefully over your lengthy refutation, and I do not see any claim that is new, and that has not already been addressed and found wanting. It is symbolic that you start by begging the question, with your assertion that you have "removed the original research." More fallacies are sure to follow such an opening. Let's study the matter point by point.

  1. The improper use of a primary source It is not "interpretation" to say "Ptolemaeus said he had an eromenos" when Ptolemaeus indeed said he had an eromenos. This is a "descriptive claim" and is expressly allowed by the rules. You then repeat your old and tired accusation that "The edit constitutes an interpretation." But you don’t explain how it constitutes an interpretation? Well, sir, how?
  2. The use of an original translation where a published one exists I have already pointed out here how and why the personal website translation is spurious. It is twice removed from the original, and has been done by a private individual with no credentials. Could be a bright high school student for all we know. But instead of responding to my argument, you are merely repeating your accusation as if it was fresh one, and not the old and already refuted claim that it really is. Even if the personal website translation had been by a recognized authority, we would still be within our rights to point out that the lover is represented by Ptolemaeus using the word "eromenos."
  3. Misused secondary sources There are three of these. Of Blakesley (moot now, since it was deleted in MinisterForBadTimes’ final version of the text) you say that he "has been used improperly" as he did not affirm the content. Indeed he did not. But that is not why I included him. I included him to support the explanation of the existence of two conflicting anecdotes: "These two discrepant accounts are considered indicative of the literary taste of the age in which they were written." I am sure that you will agree that Blakesley indeed does confirm just that when he writes that Yet the age whose taste could render books of this description [referring to Ptolemy’s work] popular was no more recent than that of Hadrian… Of the second, Asheri, (also moot, for the same reason) you claim he has been "forced into use not intended." But Asheri’s role here is to support the contention that "Though some have categorized these anecdotes as 'deceitful philology,' that has to be considered a relative term, applicable to all of Herodotus' work." I am sure you will agree that Asheri indeed does confirm just that when he writes that Since there are not a few who would include Herodotus’ own work within this category, the notion of Schwindlerei in connection with Greek literature has become relative. Wilikinson, the third source, (moot as well) likewise. He was never used to "endorse" the notion that Herodotus really had a boy beloved. He was used to endorse the position that such material should not be dismissed out of hand. He says that explicitly when he writes that ...it would be rash to reject them as worthless. But I see you disagree with this scholar. Speak to him, sir, not to us. May I conclude that all three secondary sources were used to support only what they themselves claimed, and never to support the veracity of Ptolemaeus’ anecdote, as you seem to insinuate. I think that exposes your argument as a blatant example of a straw man argument, does it not?
  4. An unreliable primary source Here you are debating with the secondary sources, which have given us their view of Ptolemaeus’ reliability, and of the reliability of Greek literature in general. Bt it is not our business as editors to debate our sources. We have no qualifications to do so. Furthermore, our article itself states, about the biographical data on Herodotus, "How much of this information is accurate is not known." Just so, and now to that we add another item of information of dubious accuracy, much like the rest. What of it, and why treat this item any differently from the rest of the dubious material we have already accumulated here???

Alcmeonid, you have once again presented a bunch of fallacies and misrepresentations as "scholarly argument" all the while asserting that the text we are debating is itself "unscholarly." And to make matters worse, you have said nothing new but have merely rehashed old and useless arguments. And all this in the context of a barrage of insinuations against me as an agenda driven editor, and against Wikipedia as a place where “something is rotten.” But when pressed to explain what exactly you are insinuating you are nowhere to be found. What is my agenda, sir, and what is rotten in Wikipedia? Fish or cut bait. Haiduc (talk) 23:26, 7 July 2009 (UTC)

Comment from WP:CGR[edit]

It is true that Photius says this; it is also true that this is Hellenistic gossip summarized by a late byzantine (quite possibly unreliably). But if we give Rawlinson's judgment in full, which is pretty close to Bowersock, I see no harm in asserting these facts; they are, after all, the case. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 16:29, 8 July 2009 (UTC)

Photius doesn't say it, he is merely summarizing Chennus. Please provide a source that declares this a summary of Hellenistic gossip and not, as cited above, a fiction invented by Chennus.
Per Asheri's guidance: "A guiding rule should be to look for biographical information about an ancient author in his own work, rather than relying on apocryphal reconstructions." Fiction, gossip, apocryphal reconstructions (particularly when not made by reliable secondary sources) all have no place in the encyclopedic biography of an historian. They have no relevant bearing on the Histories of Herodotus which really is the important subject here. If anyone can find information in this section not backed by a reliable secondary source, please feel free to remove it. ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 14:42, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
It's incontrovertible that Photius said Ptolemy Chennos said Plesirrhous was Herodotus' eromenos. Ptolemy may have been wrong about this, but there's no real reason to suppose this piece of information is false. The "fiction" comes in when Chennos says that Plesirrhous added the introduction to the first book. As I've said already, Asheri is not interested in whether or not Plesirrhous was Herodotus' eromenos--he discusses the passage of Photius because of the idea that the first sentence of the Histories is not actually Herodotus' own words. In fact, that's what Photius is interested in as well, and presumably what Ptolemy Chennos was interested in as well. The fact that an ancient Greek male had an eromenos is unremarkable; in fact, it would be more unusual if an ancient Greek male didn't have an eromenos. --Akhilleus (talk) 18:41, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
As I said above this is not an original contribution of Photius. He is merely summarizing Chennus. As to your latter assumption, I think we all know that Wikipedia runs not on assumptions but on referenced facts. This is fiction and as such has no place in an historical biography. We also know that none of the biographical information found in mainstream academic publications contain this information. As Dahlmann says in the source used: "Of the circumstances of the old age of Herodotus, history has nothing to record. As little does it know of his children, if he had any, or of his collateral relations." Here we have a valid secondary source to go by. Let's follow its lead and stick to the facts. ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 19:16, 17 July 2009 (UTC)
You are arguing with the sources (Photius and Ptolemaeus, as if it mattered that one summarized the other, and as if it was up to you to make that judgment) and the scholars, who have chosen to not dismiss this source. Dahlman is not the only one with an opinion here, and there is no reason we should restrict ourselves to him when we have Asheri published by Oxford University asserting that all information about Herodotus is to some extent doubtful. Haiduc (talk) 20:05, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Request for Resolution[edit]

I'm getting pretty sick of the constant edit reverting on the main article. It's fairly obvious that you disagree with each others stance and are unlikely to ever find common ground. That said, I am going to ask that you try and come to some workable conclusion on the talk page without editing and reverting the main article. If this is impossible, I think I'm going to ask an admin to come in and sort this out. I've posted this on your talk pages too, just in case your not watching this page. Fol de rol troll (talk) 12:54, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

My suggestion is that you restore the article to is last consensus format, before this latest attempt to remove the information. Three editors have supported the material and posted it, and we should not deprive the readers of this information based on the flawed arguments repeatedly presented. But for the time being I do not intend to restore the material myself. Haiduc (talk) 13:03, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
As noted on your talk page, the people who have contributed to this debate on this page have largely been against inclusion. The people who have re-added the info have been yourself and Septentrionalis. MinisterForBadTimes re-wrote it, making it quite clear that the veracity of the claim was disputable. All other edits have either been minor edits to other information, or removal of the information. Fol de rol troll (talk) 13:36, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
As noted on your talk page, three editors have inserted the material into the article, and a fourth has supported its validity. Against it has been raised a barrage of fallacious arguments, ad hominem insinuations, and vague fulminations against Wikipedia in general, accusations and insinuations that when challenged have not been defended.
As for the veracity of the claim being disputable, first of all everything about Herodotus is disputable, secondly there is nothing disputable about reporting that the claim has been made, and thirdly that is not for us to determine but for the scholars, and they have had their say. Haiduc (talk) 13:49, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
I checked the edit log. Your assertions about support from the editors are not true. I checked that before making my previous edit. Please list the times and names of the editors you are claiming to have done this and I'll be happy to accept it, if I have made an error. If everything about Herodotus is disputable, then perhaps their should be nothing on the page other than "There are no reliable sources that tell us anything about Herodotus personal life." The information that is currently their is sourced with the source given from a reasonably reliable history. Claims have been made about Will Smith's beliefs on Scientology, but if you look at his page, this is treated rather well, IMO. Just because something is posited and can be sourced doesn't mean that it must be included. As most historians deride Ptolemy Chennos as unreliable, are we justified in including his information in the article? It is my belief that we aren't. I could write a book saying the world was square, that the Prime Minister of Great Britain is Harrison Ford and that all sports are co-ordinated lies to hypnotise and sedate the masses. I could self-publish this book and then someone could write wikipedia articles including my assertions. I would fully expect that if anybody added my assertions, with sources, to any relevant article, it would be removed as obvious nonsense. You could add that (deluded fool) "Fol De Rol Troll has said ..." but it wouldn't add anything to the article except that some published fantasist has made a doubtable claim. Fol de rol troll (talk) 14:01, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
Septentrionalis added the material to the article, as did MinisterForBadTimes as did I. That makes three. Akhilleus supported it: "It's incontrovertible that Photius said Ptolemy Chennos said Plesirrhous was Herodotus' eromenos. Ptolemy may have been wrong about this, but there's no real reason to suppose this piece of information is false." I do not know what you are talking about "my assertions are not true." Haiduc (talk) 14:24, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
To suggest that I support the addition of the material is at best a severe misrepresentation, and at worst bad faith. I have said repeatedly that I do not support the addition of the material. NOR have I added any material.In good faith, I did try to come to a compromise by removing some of the material. However, let me state for the record that I oppose the addition of the material. I am now disinclined to compromise, since my position on this has been misrepresented.
Haiduc has misrepresented the opinions of others on more than one occasion. As far as I can see, Akhilleus has never supported the inclusion of the material. He has said that it is not WP:OR to say that Chennus said that Herodotus had an eromenos. Under no circumstances is this the same as supporting the inclusion of the material.
I agree with Akhilleus that the material is not original research. Personally, I feel that Alcmaeonid has gone too far in trying to prove that is original research; this is a secondary issue. For me, the issue is this: is this material worth having in the article? And my answer would be no. It is obvious that Chennus's worth as a source is nil, so including any of his claims is pointless. 'Even if Herodotus did have an eromenos (which as Akhilleus points out, is very likely), Chennus's statement to that effect is still effectively fiction. Chennus probably didn't know one way or the other, and just made it up. It doesn't need to be in the article, and more editors oppose its addition than support it. So it shouldn't be in the article, in my opinion. MinisterForBadTimes (talk) 15:35, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
I agree that Septentionalis re-added it. MinisterForBadTimes changed YOUR edit from this

"According to Ptolemaeus Chennus in the Library of Photius, "Plesirrhous the Thessalian, the hymnographer, was the eromenos of Herodotus and his heir.[4]. This account has also led some historians to assume Herodotus died childless.[5] Another story, from the same source, has the youth dying before his erastes. Allegedly, Herodotus does not mention the name of Candaulus' wife because of the pain it brings him: "The wife's name was, it is said, passed over in silence by Herodotus because Plesirrhous, whom Herodotus loved, was taken with a woman called Nysia and who was of a family of Halicarnassus, and that he hanged himself when he was unsuccessful with her. It is for this reason that Herodotus does not mention the name of Nysia which was odious to him.[6][7] Though some have categorized such anecdotes as "deceitful philology," that has to be considered a relative term, applicable to all of Herodotus' work.[8] Furthermore, it would be rash to reject them as worthless since they are not of a nature that would suggest it would have been worthwhile inventing them.[9]"

To this

"According to the late, and much derided source Ptolemaeus Chennus (whose account only exists in epitomized form)[10], Herodotus had young male lover (eromenos) in the Greek pederastic tradition. Chennus names him as Plesirrhous the Thessalian, and says that he was Herodotus's heir, a suggestion that has led some historians to assume that Herodotus was childless.[11][12] Herodotus' death and burial are placed either at Thurii or at Pella, in Macedon, between 425 and 420 BC. It is suspected he was buried at Thurii as he typically referred to himself as "Herodotus of Thurii." [13] How much of this information is accurate is not known. It was common practice in antiquity for the biographies of poets to be pieced together from inferences drawn from their works. Something similar may have happened in Herodotus' case. His casting as a tyrannicide may simply reflect the pro-freedom attitude that he expresses in the Histories, whereas the stays at Samos and Athens may have been invented to explain the pro-Samian and pro-Athenian bias that has often been thought to pervade his work. His exile from Halicarnassus may also be fictional: later historians, such as Thucydides and Xenophon, underwent periods of exile, and their fates may have been retrospectively imposed on Herodotus by later writers.[citation needed]"

I don't see this as an edit in defence of your position. It removes what you said. This is why I stated that I had checked the edit history, I suggest you do the same. Fol de rol troll (talk) 15:40, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
Apologies, an error in the original edit meant that the line about the eromenos didn't appear, it had been kept, which didn't show until I repeated the correction the editor subsequently made. Eitherway, the edit made obviously casts aspertions as to the veracity of the statement. Fol de rol troll (talk) 17:28, 18 July 2009 (UTC)
Three editors included the material. I was satisfied with the version that MinisterForBadTimes formulated because it acknowledged the existence of the claim, even though I felt it was bit opinionated. So we seem to be talking past each other, imputing intentions that do not exist.
As for you, MinisterForBadTimes, I am sorry if it seems to you that I misinterpreted your action, but your inclusion and restatement of the material seemed to me like a support of that material (in your own version). You supported the fact that the claim was made and you then furnished opinions disparaging the claim. OK. The main point was that the topic was covered, not swept under the rug. That is what we are charged to do as editors, not to act as nannies for the readers, "we'll let them know this but we will not let them know that." As for your threat to be inflexible as revenge for a perceived slight, that is your business, not mine. Haiduc (talk) 16:54, 18 July 2009 (UTC)

the latest incarnation[edit]

I see that this discredited information has been added back to the article even though there is still opposition to it by what now appears to be a majority of editors. Its latest incarnation is as "Hellenistic gossip summarized by a late byzantine." I have asked for a source backing this assertion and have received none. And yet we find the edit forced back in. Just one more example of skipping over critical points of discussion to arrive at a predetermined end.

That leaves us back with Chennus. A primary source. Unreliable. One used without a reliable, secondary source to back it up per: "Any interpretation of primary source material requires a reliable secondary source for that interpretation." The interpretation here is that Chennus was not inventing but passing on some kind of tradition. We have no evidence of this. Instead I have provided several reliable sources that label Chennus a "forger", "liar", "writer of fiction", etc. I wont bother to cite them again.

In the specific case of Rawlinson, I think we can safely say that the burden of evidence has not been met. The latter states: "The source cited must unambiguously support the information as it is presented in the article." He does no such thing. For those interested you can read the passage here[11]. Then scratch your head.

The argument that "since everything we know is doubtful lets add more doubtful stuff" could be highly entertaining if not for the sad fact that it's meant to be taken seriously. Now there's a serious standard of scholarship for you. But there is a crucial, critical difference between the "doubtful" that can and cannot be added. To be added it must be deemed worthy by a reliable secondary source, not simply by a Wikipedia editor. (Forgive the sarcasm but remember I have been wasting precious editing time with this guy here for weeks!)

It all boils down to this. If he can find a mainstream, reliable, secondary source that says "Herodotus had an eromenos", then it can be added via the rules of Wikipedia. Period. Find this source and the argument is over. Of course those of us who have read the Herodotus biographical material know that it is nowhere to be found. The current academic consensus is this: "we know nothing of his collateral relations." I'm trying to imagine what would happen if this kind of material was submitted even at an undergraduate level. But then not even an undergraduate would risk that kind of embarrassment.

Now I know that anyone reading here will think this ends the debate. Finito! But no. Wait. Below you will most likely find another long winded, convoluted, off-point rejoinder filled with all kinds of huffy indignation, ad hominem denigrations, and misrepresentations of editor's points. Which brings up another subject to be addressed when this one is over. What is the proper procedure if you find an editor in violation of Wikipedia editing rules, deem the editor impervious to reason and bereft of good faith, and you don't want to be tied up in long, circular, repetitive discussion? Is there a wiki-court where specialists in this stuff can bring some resolution to bear? If not, it is long overdue.

Since I am currently doing field work and am unable to pursue this matter on a daily basis, I would ask the concerned editors above to re-join the battle of maintaining a minimal academic standard here. Thanks in advance. And thank you Minister, thank you Fol de Rol, for your pointed, insightful input. ~ Alcmaeonid (talk) 16:29, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

"long winded, convoluted, off-point rejoinder filled with all kinds of huffy indignation, ad hominem denigrations, and misrepresentations of editor's points" is a decent characterization of the above post. --Akhilleus (talk) 18:03, 22 July 2009 (UTC)

Three revert rule[edit]

Haiduc has now broken the three revert rule, though Alcmaeonid may also have done. I'm passing this to the admins when I return from going out. Fol de rol troll (talk) 18:22, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

How do you figure that? The 3RR says that you can't revert more than three times within a 24-hour period. I don't see that here. Both Haiduc and Alcmaeonid are edit-warring, though. --Akhilleus (talk) 18:36, 23 July 2009 (UTC)
Akhilleus, thank you for your lucid posts. I do, however, have to take issue with you on one point. I do not see my work here as "edit warring." The coverage of Ptolemaeus' discussion is something that has been introduced into the article by three different editors. MinisterOfBadTimes not because he agrees with the claim, but apparently out of a gentlemanly effort to find a compromise in a situation where editors do not all agree. (I hope that this time I am representing your edit correctly.) Septentrionalis and I because we find that it is indeed the case that Ptolemaeus made the claims he made. You yourself agree that it is legitimate to mention that Ptolemaeus made the claims he did. And at least two important scholars concur that the material cannot be dismissed. So how is my attempt to preserve this bit of text, worked out over time by a number of different editors, from the repeated deletions of an intransigent editor who uses innuendo, straw man arguments and ad hominem attacks, and does not respond to rebuttals, "edit warring?!" I do not mind putting up with all kinds of flack as a result of editing on the topic of LGBT history in general and pederasty in particular, but I do not think it is fair to be lumped with those who would suppress this information. Haiduc (talk) 23:58, 23 July 2009 (UTC)

Gold digging marmots[edit]

Wouldn't this section be more relevant on the Histories page? --15lsoucy (talk) 17:14, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

Herodotus wrote about Alexander in India!!??!![edit]

Some of the historians claims that in case of Alexander's battles in India he has wrote much of which was dictated to him by the Macedonian army.[11]


Erm, what? Deleted. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.40.163.93 (talk) 22:02, 16 October 2009 (UTC)

Problems with sourcing[edit]

There seems to be a problem with some sources for this article. I quote from the present edit (italics mine):

There are several pieces of gossip about Herodotus. According to Ptolemaeus Chennus, a late source who has been accused of fiction, as summarized in the Library of Photius, an eleventh-century Byzantine cleric, "Plesirrhous the Thessalian, the hymnographer, was the eromenos of Herodotus and one of his heirs.(ref)"Καὶ ὡς Πλησίρροος ὁ Θεσσαλὸς ὁ ὑμνογράφος, ἐρώμενος γεγονὼς Ἡροδότου καὶ κληρονόμος τῶν αὐτοῦ" [Eng tr. by Wikipedia editor Haiduc] Photius, Library; "Ptolemy Chennus, New History" 190(ref). This account has also led some historians to assume Herodotus died childless.(ref)The life of Herodotus drawn out from his book By Friedrich Christoph Dahlmann, George Valentine Cox; p.169</ref> Henry Rawlinson, in the nineteenth century, argued that, although such anecdotes were from an "authority of the least trustworthy kind", it might well be true that Herodotus was childless and Plesirrhous published his work after his death; no one would find it worth the trouble to invent such stories.(ref)The History of Herodotus By Herodotus, John Gardner Wilkinson, Henry Creswicke Rawlinson; p.27; 1859 edition. (p.32 in the 1875 edition)(/ref)

Here is one of the quoted sources, 'The History of Herodotus', George Rawlinson, 1859:[12] and these things ought to be noted :

  • It is NOT Henry Rawlinson but George Rawlinson that summarizes the gossip about Plesirrhous - page 27, Chapter 1 (Henry provided an essay but not this particular chapter).
  • Photius was 9th century not 11th
  • George Rawlinson refers to Ptolemy Chennus by his other name Hephaestion. I quote Note 3 from page 27: "These particulars are reported by Hephaestion (ap. Phot. Bibliothec. Cod. 190, page 478), a late writer of small authority who moreover throws discredit on his own anecdotes by allowing them to contradict one another. The same Plesirrhous, who in two of his tales is made to be our author's heir, in another is said to have committed suicide while Herodotus was still engaged upon his work."
  • Rawlinson makes no mention of pederasty and thus the claim about a pederastic relationship between Herodotus and Plesirrhous rests entirely on the laughable authority of Hephaestion/Chennus. Was the Plesirrhous who committed suicide the lover of Herodotus, or was it one of the other Plesirrhouses, or all three? This needs to be clarified. Maybe Haiduc can quote some more from the Greek since he seems to have it at his fingertips - where did you locate the quote, Haiduc?
  • So much other gossip about the life of Herodotus is covered in Rawlinson's book, one can't help wonder why the issue of pederasty was singled out as worthy of interest; and why was this bit of gossip considered important enough to keep even at the cost of an edit-war? I like the bit about Herodotus being buried with Thucydides. Why wasn't bit of gossip mentioned? Amphitryoniades (talk) 06:38, 16 December 2009 (UTC)
The vast notes above detail the discussion over this information. I am still of the belief that it shouldn't be in the article and it's a view pushed by the inserting editor. Feel free to challenge the consensus and delete it, I'll support you should you do it, I really couldn't be bothered doing it for the trouble it'll cause. Fol de rol troll (talk) 18:51, 16 December 2009 (UTC)

Yes, 'vast' is right, and the result of all that argument is misinformation. I think there are several options. 1. Retain and expand Ptolemaeus Hephaestion/Chennus as a source in order to demonstrate how extraordinarily unreliable ancient sources can be; 2. Retain P H/C as a source and introduce other fanciful or unreliable sources on issues that are important to us as individual editors (I'm particularly interested in the issue of human rights abuses in ancient Greece, particularly slavery, misogyny and pederasty); 3. remove P H/C as a source and get on with developing an article that is in bad need of conscientious editing. I'm ready for advice on these options. Amphitryoniades (talk) 22:37, 16 December 2009 (UTC)

I've decided that option 1 offers the best opportunities and I am going to divide the biography into two sections titled Herodotus seen by other liars and Herodotus seen by other historians. As the titles imply, the first section will be dedicated to nonsense about the life of Herodotus, such as spouted by 'pseudo-Plutarch' and Dio Chrysostrom, our friend Ptolemaeus Hephaestion/Chennus and the likes of Lucian, while the second section will be dedicated to the reasoned conclusions of modern historians working with selected sources. This should keep everyone happy, including the reader. I hope to get the nonsense out of the way in one day of edits then tackle the sensible stuff the following day. But the best laid plans of mice and men do often gang aglay. Amphitryoniades (talk) 05:39, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

In order to establish the Liar/Historian role, I have to preface the biography with remarks about Herodotus' place within the literary and oral traditions of the time, and that includes a brief overview of the nature of his achievement. I'll be standing on the shoulders of gigantic scholars - guys with encyclopaedic memories and extraordinary powers of synthesis - or maybe I'm more like one of those little fish that swim inside the mouths of sharks, picking their teeth. I have 3 sharks - George Rawlinson (1859), A.R.Burn (1972) and Oswyn Murray (1986). I suppose there are bigger sharks out there but these will do for the moment. Amphitryoniades (talk)

Perfectly happy to see how you get on with it, I personally would tend to option 3, but if you can do opt. 1, I'm happy to give it a go. I wouldn't use "Herodotus seen by other liars" as a title though as it's very controversial. I'm not sure if you were being a bit tongue in cheek though. I would go with something like "Herodotus and Fantasy" and "Herodotus and History". Maybe. Fol de rol troll (talk) 22:47, 18 December 2009 (UTC)

I was being cheeky yes but serious too. Herodotus is known as the The Father of History but also as The Father of Lies - if he has that latter epithet, do Ptolemaeus Hephaestion/Chennus or pseudo-Plutarch deserve anything better? Hardly. Option 1 is option 3 if handled properly. Amphitryoniades (talk) 00:04, 19 December 2009 (UTC)

I think the article needs yet another section - this to be titled The Histories. There is already a separate article titled Histories (Herodotus) but that is simply an overview of the content book by book. We need an overview that accounts for the general structure, style and composition of his Histories - an overview that belongs in an article about Herodotus since it pertains to his unique characteristics as an author and as a man. I'll set up the new section and link it to the other article. Amphitryoniades (talk) 02:50, 23 December 2009 (UTC)

Phrasing[edit]

I undid an edit by Wran, who claims that an earlier phrasing was far superior - see here for a comparison. First, I don't see how the earlier phrasing is far superior. Second, I came up with both phrasings. Third, your contribution history indicates that you are prone to high-handed edits, and there is a suspicion that you might be a puppet. Please justify your decision here if you want to be taken seriously. Amphitryoniades (talk) 00:29, 30 May 2010 (UTC)

Selincourt translation[edit]

I restored the Selincourt translation of the opening to Historiae - it had been replaced by Wran with a so-called "vastly more accurate translation" that was almost unreadable. See here for a comparison. The Selincourt translation is recommended reading in the OCD 2003 edition and the fact that it aims at good English is no reason not to use it, even though it takes a few liberties with the exact wording. The Greek wording is now included for those who are interested in the exact wording of the original. Amphitryoniades (talk) 00:17, 19 June 2010 (UTC)

Successful mentions of historical migration by Herodotus[edit]

Hello, through many days of research, I have in my opinion wrote an article which successfully describes the migration of an ancient median tribe Baloch people as mentioned by Herodotus. Please leave your comment on the talk page of the article. And please do not be rude if you think something is wrong, it took very long to write it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by BalochMedia (talkcontribs) 22:45, 10 September 2010 (UTC)

Birth/death dates[edit]

The introduction first sentence has "(c. 484 BC – c. 425 BC)." But the info box on the right says born c. 490, died c. 430. I realize we might not have concrete dates but these two figures ought to at least match! Leperflesh (talk) 19:33, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

The date 484 BC comes from Aulus Gellius. We don't really know anything about his date of death, it's all just an educated guess. Suda - which was written over 1000 years after Herodotus - reads though:
"He went back to Halicarnassus and drove out the tyrant; but later, when he saw that the citizens were jealous of him, he went of his own will to Thurii, which was colonized by the Athenians, and after he died there, was buried in the agora. But some say that he died in Pella."
I'll edit the infobox to make the dates match up.

--Dblk (talk) 20:39, 5 May 2011 (UTC)

Loose use of "Lies"/"Liars"[edit]

Given these terms are inherently value-rich territory, I think we need to be a bit more careful in our use. I have no issue whatsoever with the discussion of Herodotus that relates to the elements of his work that may not be factual. But in review of the sources, I'm not sure we're following due weight here. There is a fairly large emphasis on "Father of Lies" and criticism, that doesn't seem to be borne by the balance of the sources. In any case, beyond that general balance issues, I think sections with subtitles like (Life - as told by other liars) push the envelope, even with "liars" set apart with quotations. Simply dividing it up by classical and contemporary biographies, or any other means would seem to work as well. Even if it's not the intent, the title implies that Herodotus was, in fact, a liar. That's a different assertion than saying someone else called him a liar. I'm not sure the quotation marks on liar negate that. It also seems fairly non-encyclopedic, stylistically. I'd suggest renaming that subsection, and then taking a hard look at the balance of criticism in the viewpoint of due weight. Jbower47 (talk) 16:29, 11 July 2011 (UTC)

I disagree strongly. Herodotus's credibility has always been a major issue for scholars and 'Father of Lies' is an appropriate title for dealing with that issue since it is a title that some authors ancient and modern have conferred on him. The section is sourced and it is even-handed. I'm not quite sure what you mean by "fairly non-encyclopedic, stylistically", but then I wrote most of it. There is an element of wry humour in that section and maybe you are objecting to that. However, many of the claims made about Herodotus by ancient authors are absurd and humour is hard to avoid. Besides, Herodotus didn't write a stylistically dry version of history and I think the current presentation reflects something of his lively spirit without any loss of credibility. McCronion (talk) 06:24, 13 July 2011 (UTC)

Ratings![edit]

Another triumph for the ratings system!

  • Trustworthy 1/5 (17 votes)
  • Objective 4/5 (19 votes)
  • Complete 4/5 (20 votes)
  • Well Written 2/5 (16 votes)

And here is the current article. Hmmm. How can it score so low for trustworthiness and so high for objectivity? Well, I love ratings—they tell us what kind of audience we are writing for. Eyeless in Gaza (talk) 06:26, 14 December 2011 (UTC)

General Clean Up[edit]

There was a tag on the article, criticizing the tone and style. I have attempted to clean up the style and tone, as well as grouping related material into a single section to make it flow better. The "liars" material has been retained, but has been grouped more appropriately. Wdford (talk) 14:47, 24 October 2013 (UTC)

Manuscript tradition[edit]

One important thing that is missing from this and the Histories_(Herodotus) article is any information of the manuscript tradition. OK, the content article has links to two small articles on particular MS fragments, but that is hardly adequate for a work of such importance. I see there is a listing at http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/manuscripts/greek_classics.htm#Herodotus, but I have no expertise in this area and cannot judge its accuracy or completeness, and it does not provide any discussion of the issues. It would be useful also to have info on which MSS form the basis of modern editions. --Pfold (talk) 15:43, 19 January 2014 (UTC)
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