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Herodotus: Historian or Storyteller?

            Herodotus wrote the Histories so ".that human achievements may not become forgotten in time, and great and marvelous deeds- some displayed by Greeks, some by barbarians-may not be without glory" (¶ 1.1). Here he begins his work of telling the past yearning for the truth. This gives us the immediate view as Herodotus the historian. However, there has been much debate as to the reliability of Herodotus' history, wherein the sensational nature of the content of the Histories leaves historians skeptical as to whether the historic narratives are factual data, or are lavished tales to be read primarily for entertainment. Indeed, Thucydides dismissed Herodotus as a storyteller for the sensational nature of his Histories. However, Herodotus remains our most explicit source of evidence for an historical narrative of the events leading up to the Persian War of the first half of the 5th century BCE. As such, it is fundamentally necessary to understand the nature and purpose of Herodotus' history in order to gain a clearer picture of the extent to which the accuracy of Herodotus' enquiry is admissible.
             While both history and storytelling have become intricate aspects of today's culture, the two can be said to differ in some key aspects. Storytelling developed with the function of entertaining, instilling moral values and entrenching cultural identity, while history entails an analysis of past events, often with an element of objectivity. In order to understand Herodotus as conforming to either an historian or a storyteller, we must look at and past Herodotus' preamble, examining the work in its entirety. Looking at the similarities and differences between the nature of history writing and storytelling through their presence in the Histories, will best determine whether or not Herodotus was a true historian. By better understanding where Herodotus might be placed relative to these two categories, finding where both historical and narrative traits are within the pages of Herodotus is the best approach to determine if he was a storyteller or a historian.

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