Essay about Greek History

765 Words 4 Pages
Greek History

"In this book, the result of my inquiries into history, I hope to…preserve the memory of the past by putting on record the astonishing achievements both of our own
and of the Asiatic peoples…." With this "mission statement" Herodotus introduces his Histories, the first recorded history text in the western world. Using fragments
of the past he reconstructs a picture of the whole; the objects of his researches included first-hand accounts and tales passed down through generations, physical
remains and artifacts, and his own intelligence and creativity. Using sources such as these (though he cites nothing), Herodotus describes the foundation of the Theran
colony of Cyrene, ca. 630 B.C.E.. In compiling
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The detail given in the Histories surpasses in amount that given in the
degree inscription but does not contain any overtly absurd or patently false accounts. Herodotus' description remains true to what is known about early Greek colonization: the oracular role, economic and agricultural pressures spurring colonization, and the mysterious and dangerous nature of unexplored territories. One aspect, given in both Herodotus and the inscription, matches evidence of the period. The Theran decree tells of Battos, "Archagetes [founder] and king" leading one hundred Therans to Africa; Herodotus writes that "with Battos as their leader and king…they sent two pentekonters to [Africa]," with each pentekonter containing fifty rowers each. Herodotus says the colonists were chosen "with brother drawing lots with brother;" the Theran decree relates that "[o]n equal and fair terms shall they sail according to family."

The main differences between the two accounts lie not in conflicts, but in new material. The inscription gives the rules to govern the actions of the colonists: their
rights of citizenship, the results of hardships to the colony. It also details how men could be forced to join the colonization party, and that the consequence for disobeying
the order of the mother-city was death. Herodotus remains silent on…