World’s Renowned Historians
Historians played an important role in making people aware of what transpired during their time. They were able to provide a historic account of all the significant events which shaped today’s world by giving answers and supplying links from the past. And even if their accounts are only visible in history books, these historians will always be remembered for their contribution in educating today’s youth.
Also known as the “Father of History,” Herodotus is an ancient Greek historian who lived in the fifth century BC. Born in Halicarnassus, Caria (modern day Turkey), Herodotus was the first historian to systematically collect his materials, test its accuracy and arrange them in well-constructed narrative form. He wrote ‘The Histories,’ his only known work ever produced, which tells about the origins of the Greco-Persian wars as well as the geographical and ethnographical information. However, Herodotus was said to gather information from aristocrats and priests and quotes ‘eyewitnesses’ about events which they have no actual knowledge, making him the ‘Father of Lies.’ Although some defended his works, there are still many others who doubt his reliability.
Another Greek historian that lived during the Hellenistic Period, Polybius was born in Arcadia in 200 BC. His work, The Histories, is notable for describing the rise of the Roman Republic into its superpower status from 220 BC to 167 BC and how the republic slowly dominates over Greece. He also described the nature of politics in each powerful nation during his time as well as discussed the powers of the different parts of the republic. He was considered as one of the most reliable historians because of his ability to narrate events based on his personal knowledge. Unfortunately, some of his works were lost. Nevertheless, he is also accounted for his ideas regarding the separation of powers in the government.
Little are known about Thucydides’ life. Nonetheless, he was an Athenian who wrote the ‘History of the Peloponnesian War’ which details the 27-year war between Athens and Sparta. He was also considered as the “Father of Scientific History” due to his strict standards of evidence gathering and analysis in terms of cause and effect with no reference to the intervention of the gods in human affairs. He also wrote events on which he personally took part and focused on factual reports based on firsthand eyewitness accounts.
Born between 325 and 330 BC, Ammianus was a soldier during Constantius II time before he became a renowned historian. He documented the history of Roman Empire from the accession of Nerva to the death of Valens during the Battle of Adrianople. He also gave a description about the social and economic during his time and was able to narrate in detail about the tsunami in Alexandria on July 21 365 that ruined the metropolis and the shores of eastern Mediterranean. His works are compiled in a book called Res Gestae which originally has 31 books however, 13 of it were lost.
Also known as Xenophon of Athens, Xenophon was born as a part of the upper class and is a Greek historian, soldier, mercenary and philosopher. His works include Anabasis or the Persian Expedition which is often read by students studying the Greek language; Hellenica or the account of events in Greece from 411 to 362 BC which is also a continuation of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War; Cyropaedia, also the Education of Cyrus; and Agesilaus. He is also an admirer of Socrates whose sayings were included in his works such as Apology and Memorabilia.
Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus
Known as Plutarch, Plutarchus was born to a prominent family from Boeotia and was a Greek historian, biographer and essayist. Plutarch is known for his work, Parallel Lives, a biographies of famous Greek and Romans that are arranged in pairs in order to highlight their common moral virtues and vices. He wrote about the lives of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Marcus Brutus and Mark Antony among many others. His other well-known work, Moralia, is a collection of 78 essays and transcribed speeches and was made during the last 2 decades of his life.
One of the greatest Roman historians, Tacitus will always be known for his works Annals and Histories. Both a collection of 30 books, The Histories covers Titus’ suppression of the Great Jewish Revolt while The Annals talks about the death of Augustus Caesar up to the reign of Nero. Since Tacitus lived in the Silver Age of Latin Literature, his works has compactness of the Latin prose while penetrating insights into politics.
Cicero Marcus Tullius
A Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, orator, political theorist and constitutionalist, Cicero is considered as one of Rome’s greatest orators and prose stylists. Because of his eloquence and influence, Cicero’s works are considered worthy to be preserved such as De Re Publica or On the Republic and De Legibus or On the Laws, which articulates early conceptualization of rights based on ancient law and custom.
Gaius Julius Caesar
One of the most notable people during the ancient civilization, Julius Caesar is a Roman general, statesman, Consul and author of Latin prose who played a critical role in the rise of the Roman Empire. He was also considered as one of the best orators and wrote a lot of memoirs, poems and war commentaries such as The Commentarii de Bello Gallico which described his campaign in Gaul and Southern Britain during 50 BC and Comentarii de Belo Civil or the Civil War from Caesar’s perspective.
A Chinese historian during the Han Dynasty, Sima Qian is considered as the Father of Chinese historiography. His most commendable work, Records of the Grand Historian, and also stands as the official format of the Chinese history talks about the general history of China from the Yellow Emperor until the reign of Emepror Wu of Han.
The world has been in existence for thousands of years. Without these individuals, the people will not realize and be informed of the richness of the world’s culture and early civilization.