Herodotus appears to have been the first to use the verb “to philosophize”

I was reading a book “An Introduction to Philosophy by George Stuart Fullerton”. The author explains in this book that how the Greek historian Herodotus had used the verb “to philosophize” in his book where Solon meets Croesus. The paragraph is like this:

“The Greek historian Herodotus (484-424 B.C.) appears to have been the first to use the verb “to philosophize”. He makes Croesus tell Solon how he has heard that he “from a desire of knowledge has, philosophizing, journeyed through many lands.” The word “philosophizing” seems to indicate that Solon pursued knowledge for its own sake, and was what we call an investigator.”
– George Stuart Fullerton. An Introduction to Philosophy (Part 1, Chapter 1.1)

And in a different book “Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy: Theoria in Its Cultural By Andrea Wilson Nightingale” the author writes about the same thing as:

“…king greeted him as follows: “My Athenian guest, word has come us of your wisdom and wandering, how you have traveled much of the earth philosophizing and pursuing theoria….”
-Page 64

Another book “The Life of the Mind by Hannah Arendt” the author writes:

“Before turning to Socrates, I want to mention briefly the curious context in which the word “philosophize”, the verb, not the noun, makes its first appearance. Herodotus tells us of Solon, who, having framed the laws of Athens, set out upon ten years of travel, partly, for political reasons but also for sight-seeing-theorein. He arrived at Sardis, where Croesus was at the height of his power. And Croesus, after having shown Solon all his riches, addressed him thus: “Stranger, great word has come to us about you, your wisdom and your wandering about, namely, that you have gone visiting many lands of the earth philosophizing with respect to the spectacles you saw…”
-Hannah Arendt, The Life of the Mind (Page 164, Chapter – The Roman Answer)

Socrates and Philosophy in the Dialogues of Plato By Sandra Peterson” and “The Bow and the Lyre: A Platonic Reading of the Odyssey By Seth Benardete” and many other books in which authors explain about the same thing that the verb “to philosophize” was used by Croesus according the book of Herodotus. but when I read the book “The History of Herodotus by Herodotus” there is no use of this verb “to philosophize” and written as:

“So Solon, having left his native country for this reason and for the sake of seeing various lands , came to Amasis in Egypt, and also to Croesus at Sardis. Having there arrived he was entertained as a guest by Croesus in the king’s palace; and afterwards, on the third or fourth day, at the bidding of Croesus his servants led Solon round to see his treasuries; and they showed him all things, how great and magnificent they were: and after he had looked upon them all and examined them as he had occasion , Croesus asked him as follows: “Athenian guest, much report of thee has come to us, both in regard to thy wisdom and thy wanderings , how that in thy search for wisdom thou hast traversed many lands to see them; now therefore a desire has come upon me to ask thee whether thou hast seen any whom thou deemest to be of all men the most happy.
-Herodotus. The history of Herodotus — Volume 1 Translated by G. C. Macaulay (Location 1.30)

It confused me a lot so I tried to find the original writings of Herodotus which is in Greek language. Let me show you the original paragraph in which Herodotus writes about this:

“Τούτου ένεκα και διά να περιηγηθή διαφόρους τόπους ο Σόλων αποδημήσας ήλθεν εις την Αίγυπτον προς τον Άμασιν, και κατόπιν εις τας Σάρδεις προς τον Κροίσον . Φθάσας ενταύθα εξενίσθη υπό του Κροίσου εις τα ανάκτορα· την τρίτην δε ή την τετάρτην ημέραν, υπηρέται τινές, κατά διαταγήν του Κροίσου, περιέφερον τον Σόλωνα μεταξύ των θησαυρών και τω έδειξαν όλα όσα ήσαν μεγάλα και πολυτελή. Αφού δε εθεάσατο και ηρεύνησε τα πάντα ανέτως, ηρώτησεν αυτόν ο Κροίσος ως ακολούθως· «Ω ξένε Αθηναίε, η μεγάλη φήμη της σοφίας σου και των περιηγήσεών σου έφθασε μέχρις ημών· ηξεύρομεν ότι φιλοσοφών περιήλθες μέγα μέρος της γης διά να γνωρίσης τον κόσμον . Επιθυμώ λοιπόν να σε ερωτήσω ποίος εξ όλων των ανθρώπων τους οποίους είδες είναι ο μάλλον ευδαίμων.» Ταύτα δε ηρώτα ο Κροίσoς διότι επίστευεν ότι ήτο ευδαιμονέστατος πάντων. Αλλ’ ο Σόλων, χωρίς να τον κολακεύση παντάπασιν, αλλά λέγων την αλήθειαν, απεκρίθη· «Ο Τέλλος ο Αθηναίος, βασιλεύ.» Εκπλαγείς ο Κροίσος διά την τοιαύτην απόκρισιν, τω είπε με περιέργειαν· «Πόθεν εικάζεις ότι ο Τέλλος είναι ο ευδαιμονέστατος των ανθρώπων;» Ο δε Σόλων απεκρίθη· «Πρώτον διότι ο Τέλλος, ζων εις ευτυχούσαν πατρίδα, εγέννησε παίδας ωραίους και εναρέτους, και εξ όλων τούτων είδε να γεννηθώσι τέκνα τα οποία έζησαν όλα· δεύτερον διότι και κατάστασιν αρκετήν είχε δι’ Έλληνα ενόσω έζη και η τελευτή του βίου του εγένετο λαμπροτάτη. Διότι εις μάχην τινά των Αθηναίων προς τους αστυγείτονάς των της Ελευσίνος, πολεμήσας και αυτός και τρέψας τους εχθρούς εις φυγήν, απέθανεν ενδόξως· οι δε Αθηναίοι τον έθαψαν δημοσίαις δαπάναις εκεί όπου έπεσε και τον ετίμησαν πολύ.»”
-Herodotus. Ιστορίαι Ηροδότου, Τόμος 1 (Original writings of Herodotus in Greek language)

As in above paragraph you can see the bold word in Greek language “φιλοσοφών” which means “Philosophizing” or “Philosophizer” and with this original translation I came to know that this was just a problem of translation. In the original Greek book written by Herodotus the word was “φιλοσοφών” which had taken a different meaning in English translation.

Confusion is solved now and it was really interesting.

2 thoughts on “Herodotus appears to have been the first to use the verb “to philosophize”

  1. Νομίζω ότι το Kindle σας, σας κάνει πολλές υπηρεσίες. :p

    I just found out (don’t laugh…) that Herodotus was almost a contemporary of Shakyamuni and therefore certainly was in contact with information about him. It seems that the information was circulating from India to Europe via Greece. Our language is Indo-European, I wonder if there would be no traces of this word, possibly by the sonority, or the meaning, in Sanskrit…

    Thank you for sharing : )

    1. Hey Maryline 🙂

      Kindle can not translate a language to another language. Most of the time I use Google or Bing online translation tools.

      And yes, you are right. Herodotus was almost a contemporary of Buddha. Ryszard has written many things in his books about the effect of Buddha and Herodotus on Ionians and other thinkers of that time.

      I will try to find more about it. Thank you so much Maryline. Blessings. _/_

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