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Herodotus and Hellenistic Culture1

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 February 2009

Oswyn Murray
Balliol College, Oxford


Our understanding of the world is not static; it can both expand and contract, and it can also stagnate. In history the expansion of the known universe has come about from various causes, from scientific advance, the slow processes of trade and exploration, from, colonization, and especially from conquest. Periods of expansion produce often a re-evaluation of the external world, both that which was already known and that which was previously unknown, or on the fringes of the known. But no one is wholly capable of a direct response toreality: reality as soon as it is experienced is perceived, organized: ‘Die Welt ist die Gesamtheit der Tatsachen nicht der Dinge’ (the world is the totality of facts, not of things).

Research Article
Copyright © The Classical Association 1972

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page 200 note 2 Wittgenstein, L., Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus 1. 1. The context of course is differ ent.Google Scholar

page 200 note 3 Herod, . 2. 35Google Scholar ; on this pattern of reversal in ancient anthropological descriptions, see Pembroke, S., ‘Women in Charge’, J.W.C.I. xxx (1967), 1 ff., esp. 16-18Google Scholar; compare also Herodotus’ emphasis on , Trüdinger, K., Studien zur Geschichte der griechisch rômischen Ethnographic (Diss. Basle, 1958), 21 ff.Google Scholar

page 200 note 4 See the excellent sketch of Ahmad, S. Maqbul, Encyclopedia of Islam, ii (1965), 575–87 s. Djughräfiya.Google Scholar

page 201 note 1 Text and translation in Goeje, M. J. de (ed.), Bibliotheca Geographorum Arabicorum, vi (1889).Google Scholar

page 201 note 2 An excellent impression of al-Mas'ūdī's main work, the Akhbar ez-zeman (in 30 volumes ,of which only the first survives), can be gained from the abbreviation of it which he wrote, published in nine volumes by Meynard, G. Barbier de and Courteille, Pavet de, Macoudi, Les Prairies d' Or, Collection d'ouvra ges orientaux, Societe Asiatique (1861-77).Google Scholar

page 201 note 3 Momigliano, A. D., ‘The Place of Herodotus in the History of Historiography’, Secondo contributo alla storia degli studi classici (1960), 29 ff.Google Scholar, esp. 39 ff. (also in Studies in Historiography [1966], 127 ff.)Google Scholar ; and Erodoto e la storiografia moderna’, Secondo contributo, 45 ff., esp. 52 ff.Google Scholar

page 201 note 4 See for these authors Elliott, J. H., The Old World and the New 1492-1650 (1970), chap. 2, esp. 46 ff.Google Scholar

page 201 note 5 It was a common theme : cf. Strabo, 1. 2. 1, citing and expanding Eratosthenes ; and 2. 5. 11 on the problem of autopsy.Google Scholar

page 202 note 1 For the older view, cf. Kirchhoff, A., Über die Entstehungszeit des Herodoteischen Geschichtswerk2 (1878), 9Google Scholar; Bauer, A., Herodots Biographic (1878), 4.Google Scholar For modern views cf. e.g. Momigliano, in the articles cited p. 201 n. 3Google Scholar ; Strasburger, H, cited below, p. 211 n. 4.Google Scholar The best discussion of the influence of Herodotus in antiquity is still Jacoby, F., RE Suppl. ii (1913), 504–15Google Scholar ; see also Schmid-Stdhlin, , Geschichte der griechischen Literatur, i. 2 (1934), 685–70Google Scholar ; and the useful thesis of Riemann, K. A., Das herodoteische Geschichtswerk in der Antike (Diss. Munich, 1967). To all of these I am deeply indebted for references in this section.Google Scholar

page 203 note 1 Willis, W. H., ‘Census of Literary Papyri’, G.R.B.S. ix (1968), 212Google Scholar; I am grateful to Prof. E. G. Turner for information about the future Oxyrhynchus publication. The Herodotus papyri so far published are collected in Paap, A. H. R. E., De Herodoti reliquiis in papyris et membranis Aegyptiis servatis (Diss. Utrecht, 1948).Google Scholar

page 203 note 2 Amherst, P. ii, 12 = Paap, no. 10)Google Scholar; see below, , p. 204.Google Scholar On the problem of possible commentaries on prose authors before Didymus, see Pfeiffer, R., History of Classical Scholarship (1968), 224 f., 277 f.Google Scholar ; and on Didymus’ methods, West, S., C.Q.xx (1970), 288 ff.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

page 203 note 3 Pfeiffer, , op. cit. 197Google Scholar ; Schol. Sophocles, , Philoctetes 201.Google Scholar

page 203 note 4 Longinus, 13. 3Google Scholar ; cf. Dionysius, , ad Pomp. 3Google Scholar ; Demetrius, 112Google Scholar ; Jacoby, , RE Suppl. ii. 502 ff.Google Scholar

page 203 note 5 Howald, E., Hermes, lviii (1923), 133–8.Google Scholar

page 203 note 6 Delage, E., La Géographic dans les Argonautiques d'Apollonios de Rhodes (1930), 82 ff.Google Scholar, 279 in general ; in particular pp. 79 f. (Apoll, . I. 591Google Scholar: Herod, . 7. 193), p. 255Google Scholar (Apoll, . 4. 1349Google Scholar: Herod, . 4. 189).Google Scholar

page 203 note 7 Apoll, . 4. 1537 ff.Google Scholar: Herod, . 4. 179 ; Delage op. cit. 261–70.Google Scholar

page 204 note 1 Oxy, P.. xxiii (1956), no. 2382 ; Pack2, no. 1707.Google Scholar

page 204 note 2 Gaertringen, F. Hiller von, Peek, W., Hermes, lxxvi (1941), 220Google Scholar ; presumably the base of a double-herm; Hiller von Gaertringen assigns the poem to Antipater of Sidon, which, in the absence of any more specific statement about the date of the inscription, would suggest that the editors thought it late Hellenistic. It has not yet been observed that this poem seems to contain the earliest reference to the ‘Muses’ of Herodotus (otherwise first attested in Lucian), and therefore also to the nine-book division (first certain reference Diodorus) ; the remaining evidence is in Schmid-Stählin, , op. cit. 662 n. 3.Google Scholar Lebas-Waddington, 1618 (second century A.D.) records an early statue of Herodotus which stood in the position of honour in the gymnasium at Halicarnassus .

page 204 note 3 Altertümer von Pergamon, Inschr. no. 199.Google Scholar

page 204 note 4 Dion, . Hal. ad Pomp. 3Google Scholar ; II. ii. III, p. 207 Usener-Radermacher.

page 204 note 5 Despite the critical attitude of Aristotle, he used Herodotus often, as did other philosophers: some examples, Riemann, , op. cit. 36 ff.Google Scholar ; Geffcken, J., Zwei griechischen Apologeten (1907), 188 n. 3.Google Scholar

page 204 note 6 For Aristarchus’ commentary and bibliography, see Paap, no. 10 ; Pack2, no. 483; Schmid-Stählin, , op. cit. 665 n. 8.Google Scholar

page 205 note 1 Jacoby, , RE Suppl. ii 510.Google Scholar

page 205 note 2 For the epitome, see F.G.H. 115 T 1, F 1-4. 304.Google Scholar The purpose of this epitome is obscure : cf. Laqueur, R., RE 5 A (1934), 2188Google Scholar, and below, p. 206 n. I. On the character of the history, Strabo I. 2. 35 = F 381 ; cf. Triklinger, , op. cit. 60 ff.Google Scholar

page 205 note 3 Herod, . 1. 202: F.G.H. 124 F 38Google Scholar; Herod, . 1. 175: F 25Google Scholar; cf. F 30; Riemann, , op. cit. 50 f.Google Scholar ; Jacoby, , RE Suppl. ii. 512.Google Scholar

page 205 note 4 The anti-Herodotean polemic is sketched in Hauvette, A., Hérodote (1894), 63180Google Scholar; see also Schmid-Stahlin, , loc. cit. (p. 202 n. 1).Google Scholar For Ctesias and Herodotus see Jacoby, F., RE xi (1922), 2041–66Google Scholar; Momigliano, A., Atene e Roma, xii (1931), 15 ff.Google Scholar = Quarto contributo, 181 ff.

page 205 note 5 Diod, . 1. 69. 7 ; cf. the implicit attacks in 1. 59.2 (Herod. 2. III) ; 62.2 (2. 112) ; 66. 0 (2. 151).Google Scholar

page 205 note 6 From Thuc. I. 21-2 onwards ; cf. esp. the passing references to Herodotus as in Aristotle, de gen. anim. 3. 5, 756b6 ; F 248, Rose p. 196; Jos, . c. Ap. 1. 16.Google Scholar

page 205 note 7 Diod, . 1. 37. 4.Google Scholar

page 205 note 8 For an up-to-date bibliography on Nearchus, (F.G.H. 133)Google Scholar, see Spoerri, W., Kleine Pauly, iv (1970), 33 f.Google Scholar On his relationship to Herodotus see esp. Pearson, L., The Lost Historians of Alexander the Great (1960), 118 ff. (though he goes too far in thinking that literary form has distorted the truthfulness of Nearchus’ account ; and some of his examples are not convincing).Google Scholar

page 206 note 1 The close relationship between Nearchus and Herodotus raises a wider question : Professor E. Badian pointed out to me on the occasion of this paper that there is some evidence for Herodotus having been a major geographical source for the planning of Alexander's expedition in general. Was Theopompus’ epitome an epitome of the early books of Herodotus rather than of the late ones, and designed as a field-book for the campaign which Philip planned?

page 206 note 2 Herod. 3. 102, 105: Nearchus F 8. On this story see the excellent note of How and Wells ad loc. ; Tarn, W. W., The Greeks in Bactria and India 2 (1951), 106 ff. is useful for references, but somewhat too rationalistic in his approach.Google Scholar

page 206 note 3 F 11.

page 206 note 4 Herod. 2. 5; 2. to : F 17; cf. Arrian, , Anab. 5. 6. 38.Google Scholar On Nearchus’ use of Herodotus here, see Pearson, , op. cit. 118–20.Google Scholar

page 206 note 5 F 18–20 ; Pearson, , op. cit. 120–3Google Scholar; Trüdinger, , op. cit. 66 f.Google Scholar

page 206 note 6 F. i. I omit any discussion of Onesicritus : his inventiveness and strong philosophical interests make him a special case, and put him outside the main stream of serious ethnographic historians with which I am concerned here. Nevertheless the influence of Herodotus can of course be shown.

page 207 note 1 On Hecataeus, , see the works cited in my article, ‘Hecataeus and Pharaonic King ship’, J.E.A. lvi (1970), 141–71.Google Scholar For arguments for and against the date there proposed, see the discussion between myself and Stern, M. in J.E.A. lix (1973) (forthcoming).Google Scholar On Hecataeus and Herodotus see also the comments of Vogt, J., Tübinger Beiträge z. Alterturnswissenschaft, v (1929), 132 ff.Google Scholar

page 208 note 1 The available accounts of Megasthenes, (F.G.H. 715)Google Scholar are not particularly satis factory: bibliography in Derrett, J. D. M., Kleine Pauly, iii (1969), 1150 ff.Google Scholar; add the important discussion of Altheim, F., Weltgeschichte Asiens im griechischen Zeitalter i (1947), 257–64.Google Scholar The long and discursive article of Stein, O., RE xv (1931), 230326Google Scholar contains also the most balanced appreciation, especially on his relationship to earlier Greek thought, 237–67. But the central importance of the relationship between Megasthenes and Hecataeus has not so far been realized. It is clear in general (much of the evidence collected by Stein 272 ff. and Trüdinger, , op. cit. 75 ff.Google Scholar is relevant here). In detail see for instance Megasthenes F 32. 54 on the perfect nature of Indian society, F 14 and F 4. 36. 4 on climate, population, colonization, conquest, (an implicit contrast or comparison with much in Hecataeus, e.g. Diod. 1. 28), or the ‘Stoic’ description of the nature of the (F 33. 59) in identical words to Hecataeus 264 F 1 .

page 208 note 2 The gap between the evidence of the fragments and the harsh judgement of Strabo on Megasthenes’ reliability (T 4, a contrast Arrian, T 6) is best explained by seeing Megasthenes as an accurate reporter, but uncritical of his predecessors and informants : cf. the somewhat unsympathetic account of Brown, T. S., A.J.P. lxxvi (1955), 18 ff.Google Scholar On Megasthenes’ relationship to Herodotus, see esp. F 23: Herod. 3. 102 (the gold-digging ants again) ; further examples in Stein, , op. cit. 237 f.Google Scholar On the relative importance of Herodotus and Ctesias for Megasthenes, see Stein, , op. cit. 243.Google Scholar

page 208 note 3 Bibliography on Berossus, (F.G.H. 680)Google Scholar in Spoerri, W., Kleine Pauly, i (1964), 1548Google Scholar ; see esp. Schnabel, P., Berossos u. die babylonischhellenistische Literatur (1923) chaps. 12. On the dedication, see T 2.Google Scholar

page 209 note 1 On Manetho, (F.G.H. 609)Google Scholar see Laqueur, R., RE xiv (1928), 1060 ff.Google Scholar

page 209 note 2 The relationship between Manetho and Berossus is unclear, because it is not certain when the remarks of Syncellus refer to Manetho and when they refer to a pseudonymous work which he also knew; this is merely a special instance of the general problem of interpolations and pseudo-Manetbos. T 11b states that Manetho is later than Berossus, T 11c and 11 d show him contradicting Berossus. Two pseudonymous works portray him addressing Ptolemy II : T 11a+ F 25 ; T 12. None of this evidence seems to relate directly to the real Manetho; nevertheless this consistent attitude of depicting a court writer under Ptolemy II may well imply that the genuine works possessed similar characteristics. The fact that Plutarch on the establishment of the Sarapis cult (T 3) puts Manetho in the later years of Ptolemy I does not of course imply a date for his literary works earlier than Berossus, or even under Ptolemy I ; see on all this Laqueur, op. cit. 1063 ff.

page 209 note 3 C. Ap. i. 73 = T 7a.

page 209 note 4 F r ; cf. F 9.105; F 10. 229. The last two passages divide the sources of Manetho into the sacred records and a selection ‘from popular legends’. The first category certainly represents the real Manetho ; but the second may be the distinguishing mark of an anti-Jewish interpolator.

page 209 note 5 See J.E.A. lvi (1970), 167 f.Google Scholar

page 209 note 6 Loc. cit. (n. 3). Other explicit references to Herodotus, , F 3 pp. 16 f.; F 2/3 pp. 22 f.Google Scholar; cf. Jacoby's, apparatus, p. 42 note on 11-13, p. 103 note on 8-12.Google Scholar

page 210 note 1 F 13.

page 210 note 2 Diod, . 19. 94100 (not printed in F.G.H. 554)Google Scholar ; cf. Jacoby, F., RE viii (1913), 1559.Google Scholar

page 210 note 3 The exceptions are Strabo 7. 3. 8 and perhaps 17. 2. 5. The fact was demonstrated by Althaus, W., Die Herodotzitate in Strabons Geographie (Diss. Freiburg i. B., 1941)Google Scholar, which I know only through Riemann's, discussion, op. cit. 4755. Whether this establishes Althaus’s conclusion, that Strabo himself did not use Herodotus as a geographical source, is more dubious. Riemann rightly points out that the explicit references to Herodotus are mostly in polemical passages, but that there are a number of passages where Strabo reproduces information in Herodotus without mentioning his name : it is unlikely that all these passages come through an inter mediary. The problem needs further investigation.Google Scholar

page 211 note 1 Walbank, F. W., ‘Polemic in Polybius’, J.R.S. lii (1962), 1 ff.Google Scholar

page 211 note 2 The best introductions to the bibliography and problems raised in this discussion are FWalbank, . W., B.I.C.S. ii (1933), 4 ff.Google Scholar ; Hist. ix (1960), 216Google Scholar ; cf. also Brink, C. O., P.C.P.S. vi (1960), 14 ff.Google Scholar, and for a more favourable view Strasburger, , op. cit. (n. 4) 78 ff.Google Scholar Interesting for Schwartz's approach is his unfavourable judgement, contrasting Ionian and Hellenistic ethno graphy, in his article on Demetrius of Callatis, , RE iv (1901), 2807.Google Scholar

page 211 note 3 For an assessment of the growth of Polybius’ geographical interests, see Pédech, P., La Methode historique de Polybe (1964), chap. 12.Google Scholar

page 211 note 4 SB. d. Wiss. Gesellschaft an der Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität Frankfurt/Main, v (1966), no. 3Google Scholar ; see my review in C.R. xviii (1968), 218 ff., which contains indeed the germ of the present article. There is there fore no need for me to stress how much I owe to Strasburger for clarifying the problems I here discuss.Google Scholar

page 212 note 1 Mazzarino, S., Il pensiero storico classico, ii. i (1966), 1426Google Scholar; compare his emphasis on the importance for Eratosthenes of Hecataeus, rather than the far more obvious Herodotus (42 ff.). See in general the review of Momigliano, A., R.S.I. lxxix (1967), 206 ff. = Quarto contributo, 59 ff.Google Scholar

The standard work on Greek ethnography is the thesis already cited, Tr¨dinger, K., Studien zur Geschichte der griechisch-rdmischen Ethnographie (Diss. Basle, 1918) ; despite its great value, it has serious limitations. It is obsessed with problems of Quellenforschung in Herodotus and Poseidonius ; and it is specifically confined to ethnographic digressions in historians rather than the main writers on ethnography. It is therefore somewhat peripheral to the real problems.Google Scholar

page 212 note 2 On the Deinon, mysterious (F.G.H. 690)Google Scholar, to the brief article of Schwartz, E., RE v (1905), 654Google Scholar add Jacoby, F., RE xi (1922), 2069.Google Scholar

page 212 note 3 On the influence of Ctesias, (F.G.H. 688)Google Scholar see Jacoby, F., RE xi. 2045, 2066 ff.Google Scholar; Schwartz, E., Fünf Vorträge über den griechischen Roman 2 (1943), 84 ff.Google Scholar The novelistic characteristics of Ctesias have been amply confirmed by the new papyrus fragment, Oxy, P.. xxii (1954), 2330.Google Scholar On the general problem of the relationship between historiography and the origins of the novel, see the survey of Reardon, B. P., Courants littéraires grecs des IIe et IIIe siècles oprès J.-C. (1971), 315 f.Google Scholar

page 212 note 4 Klio, ix (1909), 80 ff. = Abhandlungen z. griechischen Geschichtsschreibung, 16 ff.Google Scholar

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