Herodotus on Deity

By Glenda | September 16, 2009

Herodotus is often called the “father of history.” Born in about 485 BC in Halicarnassus , he wrote a bardic history of the Persian Wars, describing how a coalition of Greek city-states defeated invasion by the great Persian Empire. Widely traveled and observant, Herodotus recounts many details about the religions of various peoples of the ancient Near East. He is remarkably open minded and insightful and, almost 2500 years ago, had a sense of “common ground” that many people today, sadly, still lack. In a book entitled The Ancient Historians, author Michael Grant states: “…(Herodotus’) remark that no nation knows more about religion than any other suggests that Herodotus had an advanced conception in mind. He believed, that is to say, in a heavenly power that is common to all humanity. And, like the Ionian scientist Anaximander before him, he describes such a power by a neuter adjective, ‘the divine’ (to theion), without any personal differentiation. When this agency speaks in oracles, it is convenient to departmentalize its activity by the bestowal of a name. Yet what keeps the balance in the universe and the world is deity undefined.”

One comment | Add One

  1. Jim - 10/4/2009 at 9:48 am

    Isn’t “undefined” sort of a back door definition for deity. Picky, picky. : )

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