Herodotus today

Yalikavak, Turkey

Anyone writing a blog post owes a debt to the “Father of History,” Herodotus.

He was the first to show how write narrative history. And despite his additional appellation as the “Father of Lies,” he did show how to collect information systematically and to assess its validity. It’s noteworthy that his ἱστορία (historía, history), also means inquiry. The delivery channels have changed since the 5th century BCE, but we could still learn from his advocacy of careful methods.

Herodotus lived in Halicarnassus, the site of the famous Mausoleum, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, as well as an ancient stadium and castle. It’s now Bodrum, the booming town and resort area of southwestern Turkey.

We’re staying not far from Halicarnassus/Bodrum, near Yalikavak. Of course much has changed. Our stone cottage has a smaller doorway than he would have wanted, or is it possible that people today are taller?

There are still beautiful views of a landscape convoluted by millennia of volcanic activity and earthquakes, and of a limpid Aegean Sea. The vegetation is still of the maquis type, which is found throughout coastal regions in the Mediterranean–dense scrub, with evergreen shrubs, live oak, bay trees, olive trees, lavender, and rosemary. However, the hillsides are now coated with swaths of white block houses, reflecting the rapid development experienced here.

We have photovoltaic cells to heat our water, whereas his solar heating was entirely passive. I imagine a goatskin bag filled with water and hanging in the sun. But I’m not sure we’ve advanced much. A morning shower here leads to abstruse discussions along the lines of “Was the water hot?” “What do you mean by hot?”

We have amphoras in our cottage, just as Herodotus must have had.They’re still made and used locally. However, I’m not aware that the amphoras gather for symposia, as shown here in the Bodrum Kale (castle). That exhibit is part of the underwater archaeology museum, the world’s largest.

At the end of the day yesterday, we stopped to buy some vegetables for dinner. Although Herodotus wouldn’t have used the Turkish lirasi as we do, it’s not hard to envision him or someone in his household selecting beans, carrots, or onions as we did. Even the measuring device would have been similar, a crude balance with old, battered weights.

I’d always imagined Herodotus as an old man with a long white beard, as he’s portrayed in statues. But thinking of his life here, I now wonder: Would a young Herodotus be writing blog posts from his stone cottage? And when he was younger still, how much would he look like the young boy we see today?

2 thoughts on “Herodotus today

  1. Chip, Nice reading!
    Apparently, in the old days even tall guys had small doors on their house. Most of the old houses in the area are around 30 meters square, small doors and windows and the window usually with an outside wooden storm closure to keep out wind (Aegean is famous for this) and cold. The less fuel you use, was and still is the case.


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