66 Notable Quotes By Herodotus For Chroniclers
The Father of History
Herodotus was an illustrious Greek historian. He was a contemporary of Euripides, Thucydides and Socrates. He was born in Halicarnassus, in the Persian Empire and lived in the fifth century. He is considered as the ‘Father of History’. He treated historical subjects as a method of investigation by gathering material critically and systematically. He then arranged them in historiographic narrative. He broke away from Homeric tradition and is considered to be the first one to do so. The only work that Herodotus is known to have produced is ‘The Histories’ which is a record of his ‘inquiry’ on the origins of ‘Greco-Persian Wars’. His thoughts, stories, opinions, views are sometimes considered whimsical and at times imprecise, however, he always claimed that he reported only what he was told. Here is a corpus of quotable quotes and sayings by Herodotus on bitterest, miseries, control, knowledge, ignorance, peace, friendship, control, truth, believe, risks, people, goal, fear, soul, destiny, evil, freedom etc which have been extracted from his work, writings, thoughts, stories and life.
Of all men’s miseries the bitterest is this: to know so much and to have control over nothing. It is better by noble boldness to run the risk of being subject to half of the evils we anticipate than to remain in cowardly listlessness for fear of what might happen. If a man insisted on always being serious, and never allowed himself a bit of fun and relaxation, he would go mad or become unstable without knowing it. Men trust their ears less than their eyes. Some men give up their designs when they have almost reached the goal, while others, on the contrary, obtain a victory by exerting, at the last moment, more vigorous efforts than ever before After all, no one is stupid enough to prefer war to peace; in peace sons bury their fathers and in war fathers bury their sons. But this I know: if all mankind were to take their troubles to market with the idea of exchanging them, anyone seeing what his neighbor's troubles were like would be glad to go home with his own. The most hateful grief of all human griefs is this, to have knowledge of the truth but no power over the event. The saddest aspect of life is that there is no one on earth whose happiness is such that he won't sometimes wish he were dead rather than alive. The worst pain a man can suffer: to have insight into much and power over nothing. Happiness is not fame or riches or heroic virtues, but a state that will inspire posterity to think in reflecting upon our life, that it was the life they would wish to live. In peace, children inter their parents; war violates the order of nature and causes parents to inter their children. Force has no place where there is need of skill Historia (Inquiry); so that the actions of of people will not fade with time. Great deeds are usually wrought at great risks It is the greatest and the tallest of trees that the gods bring low with bolts and thunder. For the gods love to thwart whatever is greater than the rest. They do not suffer pride in anyone but themselves. Hippocleides doesn't care. No one is so senseless as to choose of his own will war rather than peace, since in peace the sons bury their fathers, but in war the fathers bury their sons. Now stop your dancing; you wouldn't come out and dance when I played to you. Now it happened that this Candaules was in love with his own wife; and not only so, but thought her the fairest woman in the whole world. This fancy had strange consequences. Astyages had a daughter called Mandane, and he dreamed one night that she urinated in such enormous quantities that it filled his city and swamped the whole of Asia. They made it plain to everyone, however, and above all to the king himself, that although he had plenty of troops, he did not have many men. Circumstances rule men; men do not rule circumstances. It is better by noble boldness to run the risk of being subject to half the evils we anticipate than to remain in cowardly listlessness for fear of what might happen. I shall therefore discourse equally of both, convinced that human happiness never continues long in one stay. How much better a thing it is to be envied than to be pitied. Many exceedingly rich men are unhappy, but many middling circumstances are fortunate. In soft regions are born soft men. Illness strikes men when they are exposed to change. As the old saw says well: every end does not appear together with its beginning. I never yet feared those men who set a place apart in the middle of their cities where they gather to cheat one another and swear oaths which they break. The man who has planned badly, if fortune is on his side, may have had a stroke of luck; but his plan was a bad one nonetheless. One should always look to the end of everything, how it will finally come out. For the god has shown blessedness to many only to overturn them utterly in the end. Whatever comes from God is impossible for a man to turn back. But I like not these great success of yours; for I know how jealous are the gods. The gods love to punish whatever is greater than the rest. God does not suffer presumption in anyone but himself. Great things are won by great dangers. Do you see how the god always hurls his bolts at the greatest houses and the tallest trees. For he is wont to thwart whatever is greater than the rest. Men's fortunes are on a wheel, which in its turning suffers not the same man to prosper for ever. A man calumniated is doubly injured - first by him who utters the calumny, and then by him who believes it. Remember that with her clothes a woman puts off her modesty. Civil strife is as much a greater evil than a concerted war effort as war itself is worse than peace. It is clear that not in one thing alone, but in many ways equality and freedom of speech are a good thing. Death is a delightful hiding place for weary men. There is nothing more foolish, nothing more given to outrage than a useless mob. The ears of men are lesser agents of belief than their eyes. The destiny of man is in his own soul. All men's gains are the fruit of venturing. If someone were to put a proposition before men bidding them choose, after examination, the best customs in the world, each nation would certainly select its own. Force has no place where there is need of skill. The most hateful human misfortune is for a wise man to have no influence. He is the best man who, when making his plans, fears and reflects on everything that can happen to him, but in the moment of action is bold. When a woman removes her garment, she also removes the respect that is hers. To think well and to consent to obey someone giving good advice are the same thing. Knowledge may give weight, but accomplishments give lustre, and many more people see than weigh. Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all. The conscientious historian will correct these defects. I am bound to tell what I am told, but not in every case to believe it. Great deeds are usually wrought at great risks.
It's impossible for someone who is human to have all good things together, just as there is no single country able to provide all good things for itself.
Of all men's miseries the bitterest is this: to know so much and to have control over nothing.
Some men give up their designs when they have almost reached the goal; While others, on the contrary, obtain a victory by exerting, at the last moment, more vigorous efforts than ever before.
If a man insisted always on being serious, and never allowed himself a bit of fun and relaxation, he would go mad or become unstable without knowing it.
The only good is knowledge, and the only evil is ignorance.
In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons. Of all possessions a friend is the most precious.