Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC (c.484 BC – c.425 BC). He is regarded as the “Father of History” in Western culture. He was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a well-constructed and vivid narrative.
This is a tale that Herodotus learned in Egypt and many believe that this anecdote was told to him by Egyptian priests, claiming it a true story. Herodotus, himself, didn’t actually believe this particular story but he felt it was his duty to report what he was told.
Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron (1348) recasts the storytelling heritage of the ancient and medieval worlds into perennial forms that inspired writers from Chaucer and Shakespeare down to our own day. Boccaccio makes the incredible believable, with detail so sharp we can look straight into the lives of people who lived six hundred years ago. His Decameron hovers between the fading glories of an aristocratic past – the Crusades, the Angevins, the courts of France, the legendary East – and the colourful squalor of contemporary life, where wives deceive husbands, friars and monks pursue fleshly ends, and natural instincts fight for satisfaction. Here are love and jealousy, passion and pride – and a shrewd calculation of profit and loss which heralds the rise of a dynamic merchant class. These stories show us early capitalism during a moment of crisis and revelation.
The following example is Boccaccio’s romantic short tale Cymon and Iphigenia.