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Western Civilization I - Europe to 1700
What is History

This recorded lecture focuses on certain points discussed in this section that have arisen ambiguity, conflicting opinions, or extensive discussion among the historians.
(coming soon) for 30 min.

Section Outline
  • A definition of history as a discipline
  • The birth of the study of history by Herodotus
  • Thucydides, the founder of scientifc history
  • History as an Art and as a Science Reading/Study Material
  • History. Read the introduction, Etymology, and Description.
  • Herodotus, Histories. Read the introduction and paragraphs 1-3 from History of Herodotus/Book 1.
  • Thucidides, History of the Peloponnesian War. Read paragraphs 20-23 from the History of the Peloponnesian War/Book 1. Review Questions
  • What is the etymology of the word 'history'?
  • Describe the uses of the word 'history' in ancient and modern times?
  • Give a definition of History as a discipline.
  • Name some of the complementary disciplines that historians use in order to understand the past?
  • Why did Herodotus write his Histories?
  • How did Herodotus learn about the events he refers to?
  • Identify the part(s) of Herodotus writing in the first three paragraphs that he makes reference(s) to different versions of the same event.
  • Identify the part(s) of Herodotus writing in the first three paragraphs that he makes reference(s) to stories he heard.
  • Should historians, according to Thucydides, take for granted whatever they are told? Give examples of his opinion from the assigned paragraphs.
  • What is the method that Thucydides used in order to find the true course of events?
  • Why does Thucydides believe that his account may not attract much interest?
  • Why has Thucydides written his account?
  • Does Thucydides make any differentiation among the causes of the Peloponnesian War he is going to describe? Test Yourself Questions
  • Write a short paragraph defining History as an Art and as a Science.
  • In a short essay compare and contrast the methods that Herodotus and Thucydides used in order to write their accounts. Complementary Material
  • Herodotus biography
  • Thucydides biography and comparision with Herodotus
  • Herodotus speaking. (6 min.)
  • Thucydides speaking. (5 min.) Further Reading
  • Carr, Edward Hallett. What is history ? This is a short book that offers some basic answers to what history is.
  • Stern, Fritz. Ed. The varieties of history: from Voltaire to the present. This is a more demanding collection of writings of a number of historians from various historical schools since the age of Enlightenment. It will give you an idea of how many different aspects of the study of history (historiography) exist.