474 UNIVERSAL HISTORY.-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
They put down in prose what things soever they saw and heard abroad. Others rewrote the
rhapsodies and legends of the bards, but their work was childish and unworthy to survive.
Then came the great HERODOTUS, justly styled the Father of History. He was born in
Halicamassus, in the year B. C. 484. He was a Dorian by descent and an Ionian by
education. His merit consists in this, that he, first of the great minds of the Aryan
race, perceived that history should be stripped of poetic disguises, and yet given an
artistic and philosophic form in the language of common life. Herodotus had the genius of
the traveler, the curiosity of an antiquarian, the industry of an artisan. He sought
companionship with the literati of foreign cities. He stored his mind with records of the
East. He reflected not a little upon the nature and causes of events, and thus fitted
himself for historical authorship to a degree not to be expected of his age. He selected
for a theme the great struggle between his country and Persia. As his narrative proceeds
and he finds himself in contact with other nations, he pauses with a natural grace to
recount their annals, their customs, their traditions, their laws. Garrulous? Granted;
but such garrulity! Would that the primitive world had produced more such charming
gossips! To spare the one were to lose the quaintest monument of ancient literature.
After him came the philosophic THUCYDIDES. He selected for his theme the then recent
Peloponnesian war. He thus secured a unity of subject for which we should look in vain 'in
the work of the Father of History. Educated in the political school of Pericles, under the
full influence of the sophists and rhetoricians of Athens, by nature of a calm
temperament, in which reason predominated over imagination, Thucydides came to his task
fully equipped, both in himself and his discipline.
True, his language's sometimes heavy and not always perspicuous. True, that many of his
periods are inartistic and unmusical; but his is the history of reason and truth. The
story is told without passion and with but few touches of prejudice. It is a story as if
told by an impartial statesman who reviews with great breadth of vision and impartial
judgment one of the most momentous epochs in the history of his people. The Peloponnesian
war thus found an expositor equal in greatness to itself.
Then came XENOPHON-charming story- teller of the Athenians. In qualities of mind he was
inferior to Thucydides. He had neither the elevated views nor the unbiased judgment of his
predecessor. He was withal something of an adventurer. Out of sympathy with his own city
and state, he drifted to the Spartans. As one of the leaders of a band of mercenary
soldiers, he accepts pay from Cyrus the Younger and goes with that ambitious prince
against Darius. He writes the Retreat of the Ten Thousand, and afterwards the Memorabilia
of Socrates. His style is above reproach, and displays the capabilities of the Attic
tongue at its best estate. The purity of his diction gave him a reputation with his
countrymen above the intrinsic merits of his works. As a model of Attic Greek, the
Anabasis of Xenophon will ever hold a leading place; as a history it takes rank with the
military records of Caesar's Gallic War.
Then came Oratory-a necessary concomitant of the political freedom of the Greeks. The
progress of Athens from an aristocracy to a democracy made public speech a prerequisite of
leadership. The greatest debaters of the world were Athenian citizens, interested in the
affairs of the commonwealth; advocates, partisans; men who espoused one side of a question
with a passionate zeal that displaced all other considerations and made life a burden
until the passion was liberated in utterance. From this it should not be inferred that all
the Greek orators were men