"Soft regions give birth to soft men," concluded the fifth century BC Greek historian Herodotus of Hallicarnassus in the coda to his wide-ranging ethnographic, historical, folkloric, and political work known to us today as the "Inquiries" or Histories. The idea of environment deeply influencing human culture has been derided as simplistic "environmental determinism," but in the late twentieth century it has been elaborated into plausible anthropological models by theorists of human culture from the geographer Jared Diamond to the economist Thomas Sowell, models that have in turn been used by historians trying to understand questions ranging from the origins of cultural forms to disparate outcomes in achievement in multicultural societies. This freshman writing seminar scrutinizes ancient conceptions of ethnicity in Herodotus, Aristotle, and several other works by Greek and Roman thinkers. Through these texts we examine two things crucial to any historian's understanding of past societies: cultural adaptation and historical representation. First, how do ancient and modern writers see culture as an adaptive response to environment? And second, to what extent can historical writers be trusted in their representations of other societies? This course's main goal is to teach students critical reading, writing and research skills, and to this end, writing workshops will be held and attention paid to the way that scholars take contrasting positions. Secondarily, this class will serve all students, regardless of intended major, as a useful introduction to the influential, extraordinarily colorful, and frequently hilarious writings of Herodotus, the "father of history"; to ancient history; and to History as an academic discipline suspended between the humanities and the social sciences.