“Evaluate The Ways History Is Constructed” Year 12, History Extension Essay

1992 words - 8 pages

“Evaluate the ways history is constructed”
Depending on the historians’ time and the context, it determines the way their history is constructed through their research and purpose in which they write. Their differing in aim allows the historian to assemble their history in a dissimilar way, concluding that not all ways history is constructed is the same.
Ancient historian Herodotus constructs his history through the use of eye-witness interviews of possibly hundreds of people and eagerly sought two or three versions of events. He travels widely to get both Persian and Greek accounts to suit the history he bases it on which is The Rise of the Persian Empire (Books I-V) and Greece and the Persian Wars (Books V-IX). His histories set down to preserve the memory of the past by putting it on record, making his histories of a “commemorative level” for those who fought and died in the wars. He was seen as the inventor of history through his difference on how he produced it in comparison to early writer, Homer. Although they shared similarities containing comprehensive lists of troops and the interruptions of his narrative to digress about customs and geography. They differ in that Herodotus does not write in a poetic form but prose, the events he writes about pertain the living memory where as Homer had written in about distant times. Much of what he wrote was the result of his own travels, observations and inquires using sources and was very concerned with the issue of being bias, this is revealed through the avoidance of making the Persians out to be “villains” although the Greeks may have been the heroes. Each of Herodotus’ “Logoi” was recited for entertainment and also in book format, according to Cagnazzi it would have taken three to four hours to recite. Herodotus or “the father of history” constructs his history with the use of eye-witness accounts; however some historians argue that he is the “father of lies” through the use of the supernatural. K.H Waters states although gods do not directly determine events “This is not to say that supernatural control, and evidence of the concern of the divine powers for human affairs, have been entirely excluded by Herodotus; oracles and other superhuman manifestations frequently appear, and on the cosmic level an ill-defined Fate lies in the background”. Dealing with the avoidance of bias attitudes he proves to fail to escape the context of his times in another way, an example of this would be the fate of Persian King Cambyses. Herodotus describes Cambyses in a negative way, suggesting he executed his brother, incest’s with his sister, burns Egyptian noblemen alive, attacks the holy Apris and desecrates Egyptian mummies and tombs (Histories book III, 64) this relates to his pride in his Greek heritage and the seemingly miraculous victory of Greece over Persia. Herodotus constructs history through the use of interviews to portray his living memory accounts, he moves away from the writings of Homer to produce...

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