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From An Introduction to the History of History, by James T. Shotwell; Columbia University Press; New York; 1922; pp. 128-143.




WHEN we come to Greece we at once think of “Homer,” and recent discoveries, which have remade our perspectives of Greek history, but confirm the world-old impression. The archæologist has unearthed Troys before Troy, but he has found no pre-Homeric Homer. Although now the centuries stretch away beyond the days of Agamemnon in long millenniums, and the ruined walls of Cnossus and Hissarlik are marked with the flow and ebb of many wars and the movements of dim, prehistoric peoples, no trace of Minoan epics has been found. Delicately frescoed walls and masterpieces of the goldsmith’s art remain to tell us of the splendor of the sea-lords of Crete or the rich cattle-lords of the Argive plain, but the one great tale which the Greeks preserved of that “Pelasgian” past was of its overthrow. What they knew of the ancient civilization which preceded their own was slight enough. In the Homeric poems there are lingering traces of the splendor of Mycenæ and idyllic glimpses of the island-dwellers, but the heroes are of a later day and a different race. And yet, slight as they are, those traces are so true to what the spade reveals, that some source must have kept alive the story from the great days of Crete (Middle Minoan) to those of Homer.1 Moreover, two of the most scholarly researchers of Greece, still centuries later, Aristotle and Ephorus, speak with such seeming confidence and reasonable accuracy of the age of Minos, that one is forced to suppose that Minoan culture left some 129 genuine, historic documents. What they were no one knows. It is the hope of historians that when Minoan script can be deciphered, the tablets which have been found in the palace of Cnossus will prove to contain, along with business records of the kings, some sort of royal annal like those of Assyria and Babylonia. But so far “Homer” remains, in spite of archæology, what it has been from long before the days of Herodotus, the earliest account of the Greek past; and, although we shall find the real origins of Greek history-writing rather in a criticism of Homeric legends than in the legends themselves, scholars are agreed today that in main outlines the Homeric epics are based upon real events. The tale of the siege of Troy may be a free treatment of diverse incidents from the story of the Hellenic “migrations,” and the present text be but a local variation of rival sagas which chance and Athenian culture secured for posterity, but in the picture of society and in the very tangle of the story there is much of genuine historical value. The Iliad furnishes light upon the finds of the archæologist as archæology throws light upon the historicity of the Iliad.2

It is no part of a history of History to discuss the still unsolved question, “Who wrote the Homeric poems?”3 The personality of the blind bard, that dim but pathetic figure, which all antiquity honored as the supreme epic genius of Greece, has suffered from the attacks of a century of criticism, but is apparently recovering once more in a reaction against too sweeping skepticism.4 It was in 130 1795 that Friedrich August Wolf (1759-1824) published his epoch-making Prolegomena ad Homerum in which the unity of the poems was attacked and “Homer” was dethroned from his supreme position.5 During the nineteenth century the poems have been studied from every possible angle, and as the study of comparative mythology and folk-lore developed alongside of the progress of philology, the tendency was to view them more and more as folk-tales, welded into shape by various poets and at different times. If a note of personal authorship seemed to dominate, one might fall back upon the fact that these were the tales of a folk so keenly individualistic that the quality of personality could not fail but shine through the social expression. Indeed these two elements, the individual and the general, give the poems their double charm and have assured their preservation not only by the Greeks but by those who learned Greek to know them. They carry with them the vision of beauty and the living fire of genius and at the same time take on that universal outlook and interest which mark out the folk-tale from the individual creation. We have pointed out how records engraved upon stone endure while traditions change; but here was a tradition whose words themselves acquired immortality, engraved, not simply in the memory, but in the whole intellectual life of a people.

The Homeric poems were to the Greeks — so far as history goes — almost what the Old Testament was to the Jews. Their authority was fastened upon the Greek mind down to the era of its full intellectual development. The early Christian Fathers accepted them in this light, devoting their energies merely to prove that the narrative of Moses was prior to that of the Greeks.6 It is a singular parallel that modern scholarship developed the higher criticism of Homer and Moses side by side,7 and applying with impartial 131 judgment the same tests to both, has revealed in each case the same art of composite authorship and the gradual formation of canon. Whether Pisistratus, who was credited with having got the specialists in Homer together, in the sixth century, for the preparation of an orthodox text, was really the Nehemiah of the Greeks, or not,8 the great scholars at Alexandria seem to have been finally responsible for the text as we have it. For not only are the Iliad and the Odyssey composite poems built out of materials of various origins, but the poems which have survived are only parts of wide cycles of the “Homeric” saga. Local poets adapted and continued the poems to suit the audience. “Every self-respecting city sought to connect itself through its ancient clans with the Homeric heroes.”9 It is no wonder that many cities claimed to be the birthplace of the legendary poet; doubtless many were!

Alongside “Homer” stands “Hesiod,” somewhat as a Wordsworth would stand alongside a mightier Scott. Hesiod comes but indirectly within our survey, through the influence of his poems upon subsequent writers. He is no minstrel with a tale, but a peasant moralizer with a gift of homely wisdom and an interest in theology. His poems attempt no sustained and glorious flight. His Works and Days are the “works and days” of a simple Bœotian farmer, interested in his crops, the weather and the injustice of men. The Theogony, the opening chapter of the Greek Genesis, tells the story of the birth of the gods and their dealings with men. Neither would be mentioned in a history of History on its own account were it not that in the Works and Days one finds the first statement of that familiar scheme of the ages, into the age of gold, of silver, of bronze and of iron,10 which has beguiled the fancy of so many a dreamer in later centuries, — in that long “age of iron” in which all dreamers live; and that in the Theogony we are given a straightforward account of the myth basis of the ancient Greek idea of the origins of society. Hesiod furnishes us, therefore, in the one poem with a framework for the successive epochs of social 132 development, a scheme of world-history, and in the other a picture of those divine factors which account for the process itself. In short, we have a philosophy of history, — unphilosophical and unhistorical, — although in the Hellenic Genesis mankind loses the Eden of the gods slowly and by the very character of successive cultures. There is the germ of a gospel of Rousseau in the outlook of Hesiod.

But none of this is history, Homer no more than Hesiod. It is poetry, romance, art, the creation of imagination, the idealization of both realities and dreams. History began in another and more obscure setting. Indeed, in a sense this poetic material blocked its path. From the standpoint of science art overdid itself; the poems were too well done. They prevented the Greeks from looking for any other narrative, — for what could the past offer so satisfactory, so glorious as the deeds of the sage which everybody knew and the golden age of gods and men in which every one believed? So the past was clothed with the colors of romance. It held something more than the good old days. A magic of antique Arabian Nights lay beyond the misty boundary, and the tales one told of it were for entertainment rather than for instruction. The present was an age of iron — it always is; but the gleam of the age of gold could still be caught — as it can even today — when the memory was a poem. If the epics stimulated a sense of the past they perverted it as well. The perspective of the early ages of Hellas, as seen in them, stretched by real cities and dealt with real heroes, but they included as well so much fantastic material that the genuine exploits could not be distinguished from those invented to suit the audience.

There is another way in which the poetry which was the glory of early Greek literature seems to have hindered the development of history. It placed the emphasis upon individuals. No epic can have as its subject the origins of a civic constitution; it must deal with men, with life and death and great exploits and the rapt tragedy of haunting fate. History may include all this, but it is more. It deals with society as such, with politics and the sober commonplace of business; it records the changes in the administration of the city and the hardships of the debtors in the days 133 of rising prices as well as the raids of robber cattle-lords. Now, whether it was owing to the epics or not, the Greeks while keenly alert about the politics of the present, were, down to the latter part of the sixth century and even later, satisfied with what Homer had to tell them of their origin. This is long after they had developed more than one complicated political structure. Highly organized states, filled with a critical, inquisitive and sophisticated citizenship, still accepted the naïve traditions of their past, and continued building upon the general theme still newer myths to connect themselves with the ancient heroes.

It is difficult to realize that no real history, in our sense of the word, was produced in Greece until in the climax of its civilization. The theme of the first prose writers continued to be like that of the poets, less politics than the story of heroes or noble clans. Herodotus himself was the first political historian, the first to deal in systematic form with the evolution of states and the affairs of nations; and Herodotus, after all, came late. One forgets that the naïve tales of the Father of History were composed far along in Grecian history, in the age of Pericles and by the friend of Sophocles. Athens had already achieved democracy, the creations of such men as Solon, Cleisthenes or even Aristides were already things of the past, before a political history was written.

It was not because the Greeks lacked curiosity as to their past, that their performance in history-writing was so long delayed. The trouble was that their curiosity was satisfied by something else than history. What they needed to develop history and historians was criticism, skeptical criticism, instead of blind acceptance of the old authority. This criticism first showed itself in the cities of Ionia, and with it came into existence not only history but that new intellectual life, that vita nuova, which marks out the achievements of the Hellenic genius from all the previous history of the human mind, — that philosophy which was science, and that science which was art.

The scene of this renaissance was not Athens nor anywhere on the mainland of Greece. Farther to the east, where the rocky coast of Asia crumbles and plunges into the Ægean, lay the cities of the Ionian Greeks. A little fringe of cities, a half-dozen or so, 134 on hill-crest or by the deep waters of half-hidden bays, these settlements played no rôle in the political history of the world like the states of the Nile or Euphrates valleys. They had no great career of conquest and erected no empire. Few, even today, have ever heard of them. And yet the history of civilization owes to them a debt hardly less than to Egypt or Babylon. It was there that critical thought dawned for the western world. In them began that bold and free spirit of investigation which became the mark of the Hellenic mind.

They held the key between East and West. They had held it some centuries before Darius found them in possession of it, insolently tempting and then suffering his anger. Long before that fateful fifth century when they were to serve as the medium to bring East and West to war, they had been the agents of another kind of intercourse. For, just behind, through the valley of the Meander and passing the mountain fastnesses of Phrygia and Lydia, lay that overland caravan route which stretched through Asia Minor by old Hittite towns to touch, at Carchemish, the bazaars of Assyria. Along it moved the Oriental-Western trade. By the southern coast they met Phœnician ships, bringing goods, and perhaps an alphabet. Along the islands to the west and up the coast to the Black Sea their own ships came and went, gathering in that commerce which had brought wealth to Troy, and planting their colonies. They were kin with the masters of Attica, and held an even larger share than they of that still more ancient culture which flourished in Crete and along the Ægean before the days of Homer and the steel swords of the north. They were Greeks, sharing the common heritage. But it was from the barbarians rather than from Hellas that the inspiration came which set going the new scientific spirit. A knowledge of the world outside brought out and fed the native thirst for more; and as the diversities of civilization opened up before them, with possibilities of comparison, such as Egyptians or Babylonians never enjoyed, they grew more curious and more skeptical at the same time. They had acquired an external point of view from which to judge of their own traditions. The naïve primitive faith began to suffer from a growing sophistication, and in this movement of intellectual clarification there were some who attacked the Homeric tradition 135 in somewhat the same spirit as the philosophers of the eighteenth century attacked the traditional theologies of Christendom. Before 500 B.C., Xenophanes, the philosopher, denounced the myths of Homer and Hesiod, because such miraculous occurrences are impossible in the face of the regularity of the laws of nature. In such a setting was born “history.”11

The exact origins are confused and uncertain. As we have seen already, the word “history” (ἱςτορίη) as used by these Ionian Greeks would apply rather to the investigations which characterized the whole intellectual movement than to that one branch to which it was ultimately limited. The “historian” was the truth-seeker. The word was already used in this sense in the Iliad, where quarrelling parties in disputes at law came shouting “Let us make Agamemnon, Atreus’ son, our arbitrator, [our ‘histor’].”12 Obviously, by the word “histor” Homer had in mind the wise man who knows the tribal customs and can get at the rights of the case. Such skilled “truth-seekers” are to be found in all semi-barbarous peoples. The Roman quæstor — he who inquires — carried the office over into the formal magistracy. But truth-seeking is not confined to law-courts. One might “inquire” of oracles as well.13 It is noteworthy that a word with such possibilities, which in Israel might have headed for religion and in Rome for law,14 was in Greece kept clear of even philosophy. In spite of the myths with which it had so long to deal, the inquiry was in the world of living men; it is a secular task, and a human one. There is in it, apparently from the first, a sense of hard fact, which sooner or later was to get rid of illusions. How it steered clear of philosophy is more difficult to tell. It has been stated that “history” to the Ionians of the sixth century was much what the Athenians of the fourth century termed philosophy.15 But the same matter-of-face quality which 136 swept it far away from the idea of divine inspiration, also kept it from being lost in abstraction. Philosophia — love of knowledge — might come to mean speculations about speculations; but historia continued at its humbler, but more fundamental task of inquiring for the data. There is already a hint of its scientific possibilities in the fact that when Aristotle included in his philosophy an account of the actual, living world, he gave to this part of his survey the title Natural History. To Aristotle, however, the term still in the main carried with it the connotation of “research.” It is only in the work of the last of the great Greek historians, Polybius, that this meaning shifts definitely from inquiry to narrative. To Polybius, intent as he was upon the scientific aspect of his work, this gradual change in usage may have passed unnoticed; but it is none the less significant of unscientific possibilities. For if historia escaped religion and metaphysics it was captured by literature.

None of these distinctions, however, was possible in the Ionia of the sixth century. The very breadth of the term prevented one thinking of “historia” as mere history. Even Herodotus, although the usage was narrowing in his time, could hardly have imagined himself the Father of History in the later sense of the word. His “inquiry” was geography as well; it included descriptions of physical features of countries along with the occupations and achievements of their inhabitants. The whole miscellaneous survey was his “history.” But the surprising thing is that those sections which to us are the historical sections par excellence, the narratives of happenings beyond the memory of his own time or outside the possibility of his own inquiry, are called by another name. There are several of these embedded in his vast mosaic, large enough to be “histories” by themselves, the story of Crœsus and Lydia, of Egypt, of Scythia or of Thrace; but these narratives of the things really past are termed not “histories” but “sayings” — logoi.

This means that they are secondary sources, as it were, narratives of other men, which he cannot verify by his own inquiry or “history.” It means more, however. For logos was already a technical term;16 it was what a man had to say, — his “story” in about the sense in which the word is used by journalists today — 137 a deliverance in prose. Hence prose-writers in Ionia were termed logographoi, and it is under this heading that one finds, in most histories of Greek literature, the founders of history.17

The prose in history came by way of city chroniclers (ὤραι), who were busied in the Ionian cities, as elsewhere, in carrying back the story to Homer’s heroes and Hesiod’s gods.18 Possibly because they took material from temple and civic records,19 they broke away from verse and put their “sayings” into prose. This in itself was a real liberation, but the results came slowly. The subject seems generally to have been the genealogical story of noble clans, — a subject to try the most scientific of tempers, especially if one’s livelihood depends upon a successful artistic performance. Yet it was from among these men that the critical impulse came. Among them arose some who grew skeptical of the legends it was their business to relate and so became “truth-seekers” through a widened inquiry for the data of the past.

At the head of the list of some thirty of these logographers whose names, but not whose works, have come down to us, a Greek tradition placed the “misty figure”20 of Cadmus of Miletus. Whether the fabled inventor of Greek letters was rather one of the real inventors of Greek prose, the city whose origins he is said to have described21 produced soon after the middle of the sixth century a prose writer who, both as narrator of the past of his own people and geographer of the world at large, may be regarded as the direct forerunner of Herodotus. Hecatæus of Miletus is the first “historian,” whose works — even in fragments — have come 138 down to us, the first of whom we have any real knowledge of the line of those who criticised their sources and so devoted themselves to that “search for truth” which was to be the mark of the historian’s profession.22 But it must be admitted that his claim to this distinction rests rather upon a single phrase — the opening words of his Genealogies — than upon the substance of the passages which have been preserved. His life was passed in that age when the great conflict between East and West began, and his home was the city which, perhaps, more than any other, forced it on. The two eras, therefore, which met in that rapid epoch, are reflected in his works. Two alone are attributed to him, an account of his Travels around the World,23 and a book of local Genealogies, the one a description of the Persian world by a much-travelled subject of the great king, the other a story of his city’s heroes by a patriot Greek. Of the two, the book of travels would seem — and did seem to the Greeks — to be the more important. It revealed the modern world to those who were to take over its heritage. But it is the other book which mainly concerns us here. There was in it the promise of something which makes it, in spite of its obscure and relatively trifling subject, one of the epoch-making contributions in the long story of our intellectual emancipation. It applied the new-won knowledge to criticise the ancient myths. Its opening words seem to mark the dawn of a new era: “Hecatæus of Miletus thus speaks: I write what I deem true; for the stories of the Greeks are manifold and seem to me ridiculous.” Ringing words, that sound like a sentence from Voltaire. Unfortunately, as has been indicated above, the few fragments in our possession hardly lead one to suppose that the actual achievement of Hecatæus measures up to his ideals. We know that he did not, like Xenophanes, the philosopher, deny the myths in the 139 Homeric legend on the basis of a priori scientific impossibility; his criticism was the product of a comparative study of mythology and history, rather than an application of Ionian philosophy. It was as a geographer that he brought the comparative method to correct the pseudo-historical. The open world he travelled was responsible for the open mind.

Strangely enough, Herodotus records, in a notable passage, an incident in the life of Hecatæus which must have contributed largely to produce this first emphatic criticism of historical sources. It is not too long to quote:

“When Hecatæus, the historian, was at Thebes, and, discoursing of his genealogy, traced his descent to a god in the person of his sixteenth ancestor, the priests of Jupiter did to him exactly as they afterwards did to me, though I made no boast of my family. They led me into the inner sanctuary, which is a spacious chamber, and showed me a multitude of colossal statues, in wood, which they counted up and found to amount to the exact number they had said; the custom being for every high-priest during his lifetime to set up his statue in the temple. As they showed me the figures and reckoned them up, they assured me that each was the son of the one preceding him; and this they repeated throughout the whole line, beginning with the representation of the priest last deceased, and continuing until they had completed the series. When Hecatæus, in giving his genealogy, mentioned a god as his sixteenth ancestor the priests opposed their genealogy to his, going through this list, and refusing that any man was ever born of a god. Their colossal figures were each, they said, a Pirômis, born of a Pirômis, and the number of them was three hundred and forty-five; through the whole series, Pirômis followed Pirômis, and the line did not run up either to a god or a hero. The word Pirômis may be rendered ‘gentleman.’ ”24

One must recall the situation. Egypt had been thrown open by Cambyses, and had now become the university of the Mediterranean world. How much it had to teach the inquisitive Greeks, as well as the Asiatics, we are only today discovering; but the eager narrative of Herodotus shows how many such interviews as those at Thebes the priests of Egypt had been granting to the half-barbarian 140 Hellenes. Hecatæus had gone there believing in his own traditions, “boasting” of them, as Herodotus implies. The splendors of the river valley from Sais to Thebes — six hundred miles of a museum street — had hardly broken the crust of his Greek provincialism. He could at least offer a rival to Egyptian antiquity in the imaginative conceptions of the Olympian sages. Then came the impressive spectacle of centuries of a human past made visible and real and stretching out before his eyes; and it cast ridicule upon the slight and relatively insignificant Hellenic past. Evidently Hecatæus had described his own confusion or Herodotus would not have referred to it in this off-hand way. If so, the incident may well have stood out in his own mind as an experience of decisive importance in the moulding of his point of view. We might not be far wrong, then, if we were to date — so far as such things can be dated — the decisive awakening of the critical, scientific temper, which was to produce the new science of history, from the interview in the dark temple-chamber of the priests of Thebes. Yet we must not forget that it was the Greek visitor and not the learned Egyptian priests who applied the lesson. How much the skepticism of thinkers at home had already predisposed Hecatæus to critical attitude we cannot tell. But then we need not try to “explain” the mind of one of whom we know little more than what is given here; especially since, even in that little, we see that Hecatæus had a mind of his own.

Hecatæus is the only one of the logographers to whom Herodotus pays the tribute of naming as a source. Modern scholarship has interested itself in attempting to estimate how much the Father of History actually was indebted in his pioneering predecessor, but the problem belongs rather to the criticism of Herodotus than to that of Hecatæus and is too detailed for such a survey as this. The general conclusion is that Herodotus was even more in debt than he admitted, and that the earlier traveller not only supplied his successor with notes for his history but a guide for his actual travels as well. If this be so, it is all the more remarkable how Herodotus takes particular pains to discredit and ridicule Hecatæus. He repeatedly expresses his scorn of the geographers who adhere to the old Homeric cosmography and believe in the existence of an 141 “Ocean stream” that bounds the world.25 This attitude of critical superiority is not due to the possession by the critic of any superior technique in research, since he himself could make as grotesque concessions to myth, as, for example, in the accounts of the phœnix and hippopotamus, — the latter having, according to Herodotus,26 cloven hoof, and horse’s mane and tail. It was not in the description of such detail that Herodotus could deny the merit of Hecatæus’ achievement, so much as in the faulty generalizations which tradition had fastened upon Hecatæus — that Homeric map of the world which prevented one from ever forming a correct impression of geography as a whole. Hecatæus had been a great traveller and, we suppose, a shrewd observer, but he was unable to allow the body of fact he gathered to overthrow the preconceived ideas of the world. Herodotus, with much the same technique but greater mastery, could appreciate, as his predecessor failed to do, that where the body of facts runs contrary to theory, the theory must go, even if it have the weight of universal acceptance. Thus, from Hecatæus to Herodotus one passes a further step toward the science of history. Hecatæus after all was only a logographer, Herodotus a historian.

It is impossible to go into detail upon the work of these logographers. The writing of prose narrative is no improvement upon verse unless the author avails himself of its freedom to be more exacting in what he says, and, to judge from the scornful comment of Thucydides,27 the chroniclers were little better historians than the poets who preceded them. But Thucydides’ impatience may not be altogether justified historically. However monastic and prosy these prose-writers became they should hardly be blamed for their failure to evolve an adequate chronology, especially by the author of the Peloponnesian War, who is himself so careless of the calendar. And, however uncritical they remain, it was something 142 to hand down the documents and stories of the past much as they found them.28 One must recall the whole situation, — the vague chronology, the involved calendar, the unreliable genealogies, the comparative absence of even bad material concerning the past, — in order to do justice to these blundering logographers.

How little advance was made, however, can be seen from the work of one of the greatest of the older contemporaries of Herodotus, Hellanicus of Lesbos. As a scholar he ranked high. He used materials not simply from Greece, but from Asia as well, to straighten out chronology by a comparative survey. Then he consulted the lists of the archons of Athens and of the priestesses of Hera at Argos — the great shrine of Hera in Greece29 — as basis for a chronicle of Attica from 683-2 to 404 B.C. But after all his labor, this pagan Eusebius retained a genuinely mediæval mind. He reckoned, as did Herodotus and every one else, in terms of generations; but as these might have a 33-year unit, or a 23-year or 40-year unit, the result is most unsatisfactory. Moreover, Hellanicus twisted his figures as well, and in order to make out that the first mythical king of Athens, Ogygos, was as old as the founder of Argos, Phoroneus, he interpolated five kings in the lists of Athens!30 It is small wonder that when Thucydides came to sketch the period of history between the Persian war, where Herodotus left off, and the Peloponnesian war, where his own work began, he scornfully rejected the account of Hellanicus, although it was the only one in existence, and rewrote the narrative himself.31

Such works, which had not left poetry so far behind as to be not 143 merely prose but prosy, were those upon which the Greeks of the great age of Athens rested their ideas of chronology. In the absence of adequate records, history was, even in Hellas, hardly rising above the level of mediæval annals. It was reserved for a Herodotus of Halicarnassus to combine geography and history-narrative with criticism and literature, and so to win for history for all time a distinct place in the arts and sciences of mankind.


On the subjects treated generally in this chapter the standard histories of Greek literature offer many suggestions which could not be elaborated in this short survey. To avoid repetition such references have been grouped at the end of the next chapter. On the Homeric question the student is referred to G. W. Botsford and E. G. Sihler’s Hellenic Civilization (1915), in this series.

In connection with this and the following chapters on Greek and Roman history, the student is reminded of the excellent guides to be found in the more recent and elaborate classical dictionaries and encyclopædias. The introductory manual on Greek antiquities by L. Whibley, A Companion to Greek Studies (3d ed., 1916), contains a short review of historical literature. The student of Latin antiquities will find a good starting point in J. E. Sandys, A Companion to Latin Studies (2d ed., 1913), with a fair comment on historians.

For bibliographical apparatus the advanced student is referred to the Jahresbericht über die Fortschritte der klassischen Altertumswissenscchaft where exhaustive surveys of pertinent recent literature, covering both Greek and Latin literatures, may be found. A few references to such bibliographies have been made in some of the following chapters, but there is no attempt to supply full lists of titles. That would more properly belong to the companion volume of texts, if it should ever be completed.


1   Archæology is steadily, if slowly, bridging the gulf from the “historic” to the prehistoric periods. See Arthur Evans’ survey of progress: The Minoan and Mycenæan Element in Hellenic Life in The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. XXXII (1912), pp. 277 sqq.

2  On these questions see G. W. Botsford and E. G. Sihler, Hellenic Civilization (1915), in this series.

3   This problem has often received undue emphasis in the field of historiography. It does not properly belong there, since history began less in the epic than in criticism of the epic. The influence of Homer upon Greek ideas and thought is naturally of supreme interest to historians, but that does not make the Odyssey or the Iliad history.

4  Cf. G. W. Botsford and E. G. Sihler, Hellenic Civilization, Chap. I, Sect. 3. Botsford sums up his position as follows: “We may suppose that songs and perhaps other literature descriptive of the splendors of Minoan life passed down into the Middle Age, which followed the Minoan period, and into the language of the Hellenes, and that Hellenic bards on the Greek mainland and in the colonies continued to sing the glories of gods and heroes, intermingling their own customs and ideas with traditions. The greatest of these bards was Homer, who lived in Asia Minor, perhaps in the ninth or eighth century. He incorporated nothing, but created his great poems afresh, making use, however, of much traditional matter. The Odyssey was composed after the Iliad; yet both may have been the product of one genius. After their completion by Homer the poems were to some extent interpolated.”

5  On Wolf, see especially S. Reiter in Neue Jahrbücher für das klassische Altertum, Vol. XIII (1904), pp. 89 sqq.

6  Not the least interesting passages bearing upon this authority of Homer are the sections of Justin Martyr’s Appeal to the Greeks, (Ad Græcos Cohortatio), in which he places Homer alongside Plato as the two main sources of pagan theology. Justin ingeniously proves, with the display of considerable learning, that Homer as well as Plato borrowed the better side of the Greek system from Moses. This line of argument was followed by many a Christian Father and ultimately worked into systematic shape, as in Eusebius’ chronicle (Chronicorum Liber Primus).

7  Especially through the influence of F. A. Wolf upon Germany’s scholarship at the end of the eighteenth century.

8  Gilbert Murray doubts it. See his short but suggestive survey of the growth of the Homeric canon in his History of Ancient Greek Literature, pp. 10 sqq.

9  J. B. Bury, The Ancient Greek Historians (1909), p. 2.

10  With a Homeric age thrown in between bronze and iron.

11  Cf. D. G. Hogarth, Ionia and the East (1909); J. B. Bury, The Ancient Greek Historians, p. 10.

Since this paragraph was written (some years ago), a very similar treatment has appeared in F. S. Marvin’s Living Past (1913).

12  Iliad, Bk. XXIII, l. 486. Cf. Bk. XVIII, l. 501 for similar use.

13  Cf. Euripides Ion, l. 1547. A collection of them was kept for reference in the Acropolis at Athens. Cf. The History of Herodotus, Bk. V, Chap. XC.

14  Cf. the opening phrase of Justinian’s Institutes, “Law is . . . the knowledge of things human and divine.”

15  Cf. G. Murray, A History of Ancient Greek Literature, p. 123.

16  The Latin sermo (our sermon) has had a somewhat similar history.

17  Herodotus refers to Hecatæus as “the maker of prose,” λογοποίος. Thucydides includes Herodotus among the λογογράφοι. The use of the term by modern writers to apply to these early historians dates from F. Creuzer’s Die historische Kunst der Griechen . . . (1803, 2d ed., 1845). On the subject in general, see W. v. Christ, Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur (2 vols., 5th and 6th ed., 1908-1913), (6th ed.), Vol. I, pp. 449 sqq.; A. and M. Croiset Histoire de la littérature grecque (5 vols., 2d ed., 1896-1899; 3d ed., Vols. I-III, 1910-1914), (2d ed.), Vol. II, pp. 544 sqq.; G. Murray, A History of Ancient Greek Literature , p. 124; J. B. Bury, The Ancient Greek Historians, Lect. I.

18  Cf. M. Vogt, Die griechischen Lokalhistoriker, in Neue Jahrbücher für classische Philologie, Sup. Vol. XXVII (1901), pp. 699-786.

19  Such documents and inscriptions as were sure to be found in the important shrines and in the public offices.

20  J. B. Bury, The Ancient Greek Historians, pp. 14-15. There is a good short summary here of the Cadmus problem.

21  The Foundations of Miletus.

22  On Hecatæus see E. H. Bunbury, A History of Ancient Geography among the Greeks and the Romans (2 vols., 2d ed., 1883), Vol. I; H. Berger, Geschichte der wissenschaftlichen Erdkunde der Griechen (1903); W. v Christ, Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur (6th ed.), Vol. I, pp. 451 sqq.; R. H. Klausen, Hecatæi Milesii Fragmenta (1831); E. Meyer, Forschungen zur alten Geschichte, (2 vols., 1892-1899), sections on Herodotus, passim; C. Müller, Fragmenta Historicorum Græcorum.

23  Γῆς  περίοδος in two books, one on Europe, and the other on Asia. On one aspect of this, with good bibliography, see B. Schulze, De Hecatæi Milesii Fragmentis quæ ad Italiam Meridionalem Spectant (1912).

24  The History of Herodotus, Bk. II, Chap. CXLIII. (Rawlinson’s translation, 2d ed.)

25  Cf. The History of Herodotus, Bk. II, Chaps. XXI, XXIII; Bk. IV, Chap. XXXVI, etc.

26  According to Porphyry (in Eusebius’ Præparatio Evangelica, Bk. X, Chap. III), the accounts in Herodotus, History, Bk. II, Chaps. LXXI, LXXIII, were taken literally from Hecatæus. Cf. C. Müller, Fragmenta Historicorum Græcorum, Vol. I, p. 21, who attributes the last part of the phœnix to Hecatæus. It is more charitable to discredit Porphyry as G. Rawlinson does (The History of Herodotus, 4 vols., 1858-1860; 2d ed., 1862; 3d ed., 1876; 2d ed. Vol. I, p. 40). The description of the hippopotamus was evidently imagined (by some one) from its name.

27  Cf. Thucydides [History of the Peloponnesian War], Bk. I, Chap. XXI.

28  Dionysius of Halicarnassus says (De Thucydidis Historiis Judicium, Chap. V) that they did not add or subtract anything. But this hardly conveys the right impression. They were jejune but not necessarily copyists.

29  Cf. C. Waldstein, The Argive Heræum, (2 vols., 1902-1905), Vol. I, p. 4.

30  Cf. E. Meyer, Forschungen zur alten Geschichte, Vol. I, pp. 176 sqq.; H. Kullmer, Die Historiai des Hellanikos von Lesbos, in Jahrbücher für classische Philologie, Sup. Vol. XXVII (1901), pp. 455-698; J. B. Bury, The Ancient Greek Historians, pp. 27-35.

31  Cf. Thucydides [History of the Peloponnesian War], Bk. I, Chaps. LXXXIX to CXVIII, and especially the passage in Chapter XCVII: “I have gone out of my way to speak of this period because the writers who have preceded me treat either of Hellenic affairs previous to the Persian invasion or of that invasion itself; the intervening portion of history has been omitted by all of them, with the exception of Hellanicus; and he, where he has touched upon it in his Attic history, is very brief and inaccurate in his chronology.” (Jowett’s translation).


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