Traditionally known as the Father of History, the Greek writer Herodotus(c. 484-420 BC), was the first man to tell a story in prose on the scale of the ILIAD and the ODYSSEY. His subject is the war between the Persians and the Greeks but, in order to explain how this war came about, he also describes the rise of the Persian empire and analyses the causes of its conflict with neighbouring states. Despite its remoteness from our own time, this is a fascinating story, told by a great writer. Herodotus has a powerful narrative style and penetrating eye for character. The great men of the age are vividly described and extraordinary details of customs, places and even the weather are sketched in. Herodotus is not merely an historian; he is also a political commentator, a geographer, an anthropologist and a philosopher. Yet events are described swiftly in simple sentences and drama is rarely far away. The continuing relevance of the HISTORIES to our time has been vividly highlighted by the extensive allusions to the book in Michael Ondaatje's novel The English Patient. The film The English Patient in which the role of Herodotus' HISTORIES is even more pronounced opens in Britain in March 1997 after colossal success in the US.