Lisa Bowen-Moore

Herodotus (484-424 BC ?) a Greek historian, known as the father of history, who was the first historian to apply critical evaluation to his material, while also recording divergent opinions. He made his prose style resemble the finest poetry by its persuasiveness, its charm, and its utterly delightful effect. Although his writings have been praised, their trustworthiness has been questioned both in ancient and modern times. After four years in Athens, he traveled widely in Egypt, Asia and the Black Sea region of E. Europe, before settling at Thurii in S. Italy in 443 BC. He wrote accounts of his various travels for the people of Greece. He read his, "History" publicly to the Athenians and was rewarded for this historical work. He contrived to set before his fellow citizens a general picture of the world, of its various races, and of the previous history of those nations which had one. He also was very careful to diversify his pages by scattering among his more serious matter tales, anecdotes, and descriptions of a lighter character, which are very graceful additions to the main narrative.

Two men are famous contemporaries of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon, who were both from Athens. Thucydides (460 BC - 400 BC?) was a better historian than Herodotus and his critical use of sources and research made his "History of the Peloponnesian War" a significant influence on later generations of historians. Xenophon (430 BC - 355 BC?) began his "Hellenica where Thucydides ended his work about 411 BC and carried his history to 362 BC. His writings were superficial in comparison to those of Thucydides, but he wrote with authority on military matters.

Herodotus believed that many Greek rituals and customs were inherited from the Egyptians as the Greek civilization developed. He recorded the wide range of religious practices he encountered in his travels, comparing the religious observances of various cultures, such as sacrifice and worship, with their Greek equivalents. He quite possibly followed the cult practices of Serapis, which is the Greek Name for Osiris the embodiment of goodness, who ruled the underworld. He identified Isis with Demeter, the Greek goddess of earth, agriculture, and fertility. About two centuries later, under the Greco-Egyptian Empire, which was created by Alexander the Great, the worship of Osiris (Serapis) was developed as a means of uniting the Greeks and Egyptians.

He observed that the Egyptians strongly opposed the acceptance of foreign customs. However, at Chemmis, at large city near Neapolis, the people worshipped Perseus, a Greek god. Greek ceremonies were used and gymnastic games were held in his honor. Chemmites believed that Perseus belonged to their city by descent.

His account of the mourning practices relates to the artwork of the "Wall Painting at Hierakonpolis" of the late pre-dynastic period. In the painting, a funerary scene is depicted with people, animals, and boats. In the boats, there are tombs and mourning women. Herodotus states that during the mourning the women would wander through the streets weeping with their bare breasts exposed beating themselves for seventy (70) days and would sing the song of Maneros, the funeral dirge. This customary song of Maneros (in Egypt) is identical to the song called Linus (in Greece). While this mourning period was occurring the body was taken to a professional embalmer, who would remove the brain (through the nostrils) and the other organs and treat the body inside with drugs, spices, and oils. They would then place the body entirely in natrum for seventy (70) days. After that exact time the body was washed, and wrapped in linen bandages from head to foot covered in gum that was used as glue, and given back to the family for burial. When a foreigner lost his life by falling prey to a crocodile or by drowning in the Nile River, the law allowed for the body to be embalmed in the manner such as the treatment of a wealthy Egyptian. This was done because of the beliefs of Egyptians that the death of such a manner transcends the body as something more than just a mere man.

Works Cited

- Blakeney, E.H.. The Histories of Herodotus. Trans. George Rawlinson. New York. Everymans Library Series, E.P. Dutton, 1970.
- "Greek Mythology." Microsoft ? Encarta ? 98 Encyclopedia. ? 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
- "Herodotus." Microsoft ? Encarta ? 98 Encyclopedia. ? 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
- "Isis (mythology)." Microsoft