HiST 201 Essay 2: What was History to the First Historians? Comparing Herodotus and Thucydides

Herodotus and Thucydides were Greeks of the 5thcentury BCE (500 – 400 BCE) who wrote histories. Based upon this description, it would be reasonable to suppose that they had similar interests and views of the world. But close examination of their histories reveals profound differences between them. Follow the prompts below to illuminate key features of both historians’ work and evaluate how much, or little they had in common. A paragraph for each prompt will suffice. The text of Herodotus and Thucydides and evidence we have covered in class are the only sources you will need, but if you refer to ideas that are not your own please include a parenthetical citation like this: (Name, year, page number).
Word limit 3500 words. Due on Blackboard by 5:00pm on Wednesday, 11/14. 
What were Herodotus’ aims in writing his Histories? Discuss whether or not he tends to stick to these stated aims. Please use examples from the passages we have read to support your answer. (3 points)
What were Thucydides’ aims in writing his History of the Peloponnesian War? Discuss whether or not he tends to stick to these stated aims. Please use examples from the passages we have read to support your answer. (3 points)
Compare what Herodotus and Thucydides emphasize as important factors in historical change. Then compare the pattern historical change tends to take in each historian’s work. Be sure to support your answer with relevant examples from the work of each historian. (4 points)
Assess how reliable or accurate Herodotus’ Historiesare. Be sure to support your answer with relevant examples from passages of Herodotus that we have read and other sources of evidence that either corroborate or contradict what he writes in his Histories. Also be sure to consider whether or not he omits anything important. (3 points)
Assess how reliable or accurate Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian Waris. Be sure to support your answer with relevant examples from Thucydides that we have read, and pay particular attention to his comments on his own methods and his criticisms of other historians. Also be sure to consider whether or not he omits anything important. (3 points)
Compare Herodotus’ and Thucydides’ views of the Athenian democracy. Refer to specific examples from Herodotus’ Historiesand Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian Warto support your answer. (4 points)
Thucydides wrote after Herodotus and was probably familiar with Herodotus’ work. Think about what you have written above and the passages we have read from each author. Then try to determine what Thucydides might have thought of Herodotus’ Historiesand why he would have that opinion. Be sure to emphasize the evidence that you think is most convincing. (3 points)

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