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From An Introduction to the History of History, by James T. Shotwell; Columbia University Press; New York; 1922; pp. 179-190.




THUCYDIDES left almost no impress upon subsequent Greek historians. He remained a great name; but few read and fewer imitated him. His severe yet lofty style and his passion for the truth were foreign to the taste of the age that followed.1 For although history did not revert to poetry, it passed into the field of rhetoric, where the ideal was a striving for effect rather than for fact. It was not until in the first century B.C., when the old Greek classics were revived, that Thucydides became once more an influence, or rather an ideal. But to trace this farther carries us to Rome. Moreover, between Thucydides and the rhetoricians lay another historian, known to all those who even begin the study of Greek, to whom we must now turn, though only for a hurried glance.

Alongside Herodotus and Thucydides, the ancients placed Xenophon, the three forming for them the trio of great Greek historians. Modern criticism has a much lower opinion of Xenophon. Soldier of fortune, student of philosophy, intimately acquainted with the men and events of an age fateful both for Greece and for the history of the world, he caught no gleam of its larger meaning, gained no sense of the causes and little appreciation of the results of the happenings he chronicled. The sudden fall of Sparta, for instance, he attributed not to its own rather obvious faults but to the direct action of the gods. Neither Greek nor Persian history was clear to him in its tendencies and significance.

To quote the discriminating judgment of Professor Bury:

“In history as in philosophy he was a dilettante. . . . He had a happy literary talent, and his multifarious writings, taken together, 180 render him an interesting figure in Greek literature. But his mind was essentially mediocre, incapable of penetrating beneath the surface of things. If he had lived in modern days, he would have been a high-class journalist and pamphleteer; he would have made his fortune as a war-correspondent; and would have written the life of some mediocre hero of the stamp of Agesilaus. So far as history is concerned, his true vocation was to write memoirs. The Anabasis is a memoir, and it is the most successful of his works. It has the defects which memoirs usually have, but it has the merits, the freshness, the human interest of a personal document. The adventures of the Ten Thousand are alive forever in Xenophon’s pages.”2

This adverse judgment of the modern critic would seem to leave Xenophon but slight claim to consideration in a history of History. But we cannot get rid of him with quite so summary a dismissal. For the historical, as contrasted with the purely biographical, treatment demands of us that we keep in mind not simply the appraisal of his work today, but also the opinions of the successive generations of readers who have judged him differently than we. The very contrast between the high regard in which Xenophon was held by the ancients and the slight esteem of his modern critics, is itself a fact of real significance, — perhaps the most significant one which the work of Xenophon presents for us. To Cicero, for instance, and to the great cultured world for which he spoke — and still speaks — Xenophon was one of the world’s classics. Why?

First of all there was his style, graphic, entertaining, harmonious, “sweeter than honey” as Cicero said, not heavy with ill-assorted facts nor dulled by too much philosophy. But apart from style, there was his happy gift of portraiture and his descriptive concreteness. If he failed to get at the inner connection of events, he brought out all the more the personality of the individual leaders. And after all, it is a fair questions in some stages of history, whether the events that offer themselves to the narrator are as worth considering as the characters of the actors. However unenlightened Xenophon may have been as to the processes of history, as a memoir-writer he contributed largely to the 181 little there was of that high-class journalism which draws its charm from an interest in people. The appreciation of Xenophon by the ancients was therefore based upon real qualities; and although they are insufficient to enable him to hold his place in the present, when the standards of history reflect the wider vision of the social sciences and demand a control of causal perspectives, still they are qualities which endure.

Xenophon was born about the opening of the Peloponnesian war, and died when the power of Macedonia was already threatening to close the last troubled era of Greek freedom (c. 430-354 B.C.). As a young Athenian noble he became a disciple of Socrates and preserved his “recollections” (Memorabilia) of his teacher in four books, which present the homely detail of an observer rather than of a thinker and the less abstruse side of Socrates’ philosophy. It is unfortunate for him that Plato’s account lies alongside to invite comparison. Very few historians, not to mention journalists, would measure up well with such a rival. As it is, however, the Memorabilia is an invaluable human document. It also affords precious glimpses of the social life of the time. But though this unenlightened pupil of Socrates failed to get at the inner connection of events, he brought out all the more the personality of the individual leaders.

Of vastly different content is the Anabasis, a narrative of the war of Cyrus the Younger against Artaxerxes his royal brother, and of the retreat of the Ten Thousand Greek mercenaries in the service of Cyrus. Xenophon was elected their general after the death of Cyrus, and his narrative — the best known manual to beginners of the study of Greek — remains a clear picture of the marching soldiers and of the hinterland through which they passed. Moreover, his description of places and his geography generally have the merit, rarer than one suspects, of being relatively accurate.

The formal effort of Xenophon at the writing of history, however, was not the Anabasis but the Hellenica, an attempt to carry on the history of Thucydides, — completing the Peloponnesian war from the autumn of 411 B.C. and terminating at Mantinea in 362. But it is very unlike Thucydides, in both outlook and style. It moves in lively narrative and where a bare story of intricate events would pall, it interjects personal descriptions 182 drawn to the life. Indeed, so well are these done, that the reader’s interest is kept stimulated where otherwise it would flag. So, although there is an undue proportion of this descriptive material, it is so successfully handled as almost to turn a defect into a merit. There was an excuse as well in the theme itself. It lacked that large, compelling epic quality which lay inherent in the Persian wars of Herodotus and that dramatic unity which Thucydides revealed in the struggle against Athenian supremacy. The pattern of Greek history was becoming more puzzling, the isolation of even the more inland states was giving way, and their interaction becoming more varied. If a Thucydides failed to estimate the economic forces behind the fortunes and policies of his time, Xenophon should not be blamed too much for sharing the weakness of all antiquity in this regard. The Hellenica was written while he was in exile from Athens, and presents the later history of Greece from the Spartan point of view. The Peloponnesians were having their day, as the Athenians had had theirs when Thucydides wrote. But the times were no longer great. When one recalls what Sparta was, — its arid intellectual soil, its unadjustable hardness, its parochial militarism, — one is surely justified in tempering justice with charity in judging the limitations of outlook shown by a writer living under its domination; even if, beyond the narrow horizon of politics and culture, he could, looking back, recall the inspiration of a great adventure with ten thousand Greeks in Asia, or, better still, could treasure as a lasting possession the personal memories of Socrates.

Between Xenophon and Polybius we come upon a period which is difficult for us to appreciate justly, the age of the rhetorician.3 The very name is forbidding. Formal rhetoric not only repels the scientist, it has even lost its charm as an art. We find it hard to be patient with mere words when we have so rich a world of real experience to draw upon, and few who study the evolution of history can repress a condemnation of the pupils of Isocrates. This condemnation is justified from the standpoint of science; rhetoric played too great a rôle in the antique culture, and facts 183 too little. But the historian of History must temper his condemnation or run the risk of becoming unhistorical. Given the antique world as it was, he should not expect it to achieve the modern method. The art of Demosthenes was as fitting and noble an expression of the maturity of Greek genius as was the Homeric epic of its youth. From the standpoint of science, the Greek mind was always hampered by its art. This was true of a philosopher like Plato and a historian like Thucydides; it could hardly fail to be true, in a different sense, of those who lived in an age when the great creations of that art were already their heritage.

Rhetoric is to us largely a subject for school children, and is branded in later life with the scorn of things immature; but the Greek ideal was not altogether vain. The great art of expression by words is surely as worthy one’s study as arts which live in color or stone. At once plastic and monumental, preserving the form and color of reality by the choice of the clear-cut word or the finely moulded phrase, rhetoric elevates the prose of literature to replace the vanishing art of poetry. Its field in antiquity, however, was limited. The ancient city lacked the varied scope of modern journalism; its interests were mainly local, and its literature was spoken rather than written. In a country where the theatre took the place of our libraries, and where even philosophy was largely dialogue, it was but natural that rhetoric should, in its higher forms, tend to be practically a synonym for oratory.4 Moreover, oratory, in a Greek city, was a real force. The arena of politics was hardly larger than the amphitheatre or the agora, and it was possible to control it almost as definitely by the voice and personality of a speaker. But oratory was not confined to politics. It was an art cultivated for itself, like music today, and “people went to hear an oratorical display just as we go to hear a symphony.”5 It was therefore inevitable that speech-making should over-run the narrative of history and the play upon language over-run speech-making; as inevitable as that the histories of the nineteenth century should be couched so largely in the terms of national politics, or those of the twentieth include the survey of economics and the 184 sciences. The invention of orations in history, which, as we have seen, has its origins in primitive story-telling, and which Thucydides took over from his predecessors as a natural part of his expression, became, in the age which followed, a definite part of the historian’s trade, and not more in Greece than in Rome, which was to receive much of its education at the hands of the Greek rhetor. So Livy clogged his moving narrative with long discourses, and even Cæsar, orator as well as soldier, would halt the charge, as it were, to deliver through the mouth of a general some unnecessary harangue.

Yet, as we have seen in the case of Thucydides, what seems to us artifice was often genuine art. The orations which are now so futile and unreal gave to the antique mind the very reflection of reality. We must judge the antique historian only by living through the politics of agora or forum in the small Mediterranean cities where the living voice was both journalism and literature, and where the destiny of a state might at any time be decided by the power of a ringing speech. Yet one may carry the historic imagination too far, and excuse too much. The rhetoric which brought popularity to the historian of the third century B.C. brought him just as surely the neglect of later times.

Formal rhetoric, however, did not limit itself to the speeches. Such obvious devices did perhaps less damage to historiography than the general tendency which they represented to sacrifice accuracy for effect. History, at best a poor enough mirror of reality, is readily warped by art; and rhetoric is art of the most formal kind. It distorts into ordered arrangement the haphazard, unformed materials which chance produces or preserves. It sets its pieces like an impresario and completes with convincing elegance the abrupt and incomplete dramas of reality. All history-writing does this to some degree, since it is art. But rhetoric passes easily over into the sphere of conscious distortion. A phrase is worth a fact; and facts must fit the liking of the audience, or serve to point a moral. As few facts in reality do lend themselves readily to these moral and æsthetic purposes, the rhetorician re-adjusts the story to his needs.6

The age that followed Thucydides and Xenophon was dominated 185 by the influence of Isocrates. Few men have impressed themselves upon an art more profoundly than he. His canons of style were not only to prevail in the Greece of his day, but to pass on, through the rich rhythmic periods of Cicero, to mould the prose of many a modern author. Fortunately, however, this master of style contributed as well to history a widened outlook into the Hellenic world. He viewed the politics of Greece as essentially one, and sought to inspire a common patriotism by appealing to the pride of all in the achievements of a single city.7 The glory of Athens, its services to Greece and the lessons of its democracy were held up to other states as an ideal for the future. But the forces of the world today are never those of yesterday, and when the long spears of Macedon wrecked instead of realized the dreams of the great orators who shed such lustre upon the last age of Greek liberty, there was left only history in which to embody the ideal of Isocrates.

The first general historian of the Hellenic world, and one of the most popular in antiquity, was Ephorus, to whom, according to Photius, Isocrates assigned the task of preserving the more distant past in fitting mould.8 He was not uncritical when dealing with both chronology and myth,9 but he rejected the ideal of Thucydides to keep his speeches closely modelled upon the originals. He frankly made them up, and was especially given to harangues upon the field of battle.10 Yet he seems to have had a sense of their proper use, for Polybius, who was a keen judge, says that he has “a most elegant and convincing digression on this very subject of a comparison between historians and speech-makers,”11 and speaks of the 186 work as a whole as “admirable throughout, in style, treatment, and argumentative acuteness.”12

The name most commonly linked with that of Ephorus is Theopompus, to whom, according to the story cited above, Isocrates assigned the “modern” field, while he gave the past to Ephorus.13 In any case, he wrote two important histories, a continuation of Thucydides — the Hellenica (in twelve books), and a survey of contemporary Greek politics in the time of Philip — the Philippica (in fifty-eight books). He was gifted with a lively style and he employed all the artifices of rhetoric to secure effect,  — a Greek Macaulay or Treitschke. Placed by the ancients in the front rank of historians, his work has suffered unduly from the ravages of time and changing taste. Little of what he wrote remains, his works not having been copied from their papyrus rolls into the 187 codices which might have insured their preservation.14 He travelled extensively and saw things at first hand; he was an insatiable investigator; yet the exigencies of style and a biassed mind vitiated his work.15

Standing apart from the influence of Isocrates, and keenly criticizing Ephorus and Theopompus, was Timæus, the Sicilian, who passed fifty years of his life at Athens busied with antiquarian researches. He it was who instituted in history that dating by Olympiads which henceforth became the Greek standard of chronology for historians and the learned world, although it never was adopted into common use. He was an indefatigable worker and investigator, and if he was a pedant who lacked discrimination and that knowledge of the world which enables one to judge men and describe events, he furnished the historians who followed with much information otherwise lost. But he was biassed and unfair, lacking not only the larger vision but the judicial mind, and his attack upon his predecessors was the text of a more crushing attack upon himself by Polybius, who devotes his whole twelfth book to little more than this purpose. Polybius scorns this mere dry-as-dust who spent his time in libraries and never saw the world, and who is a stickler for small points while he fails to see the large ones. But however much remained to criticise in the actual achievement of Timæus, it was something to have him protest that “history differs from rhetorical composition as much as real buildings differ from those represented in scene-paintings”; and again, that “to collect the necessary materials for writing history is by itself more laborious than the whole process of producing rhetorical compositions.”16


No Greek historian arose to handle the greatest political achievement of the Hellenic race — the Alexandrine empire. Ephorus has written the national story down to 356, and Theopompus had covered the age of Philip. There they stopped. To the Hellenistic world this was like the Old Testament story of Judæa to the Christians. But the story of the great Diaspora, of the spreading of the Greeks through all the Orient, of the building of new cities and planting of Hellenic colonies over to the heart of Asia, of the widening of language and the vital contact with Oriental science, religion and philosophy, all this remained unwritten by competent hands. The Greeks, at the moment when their history seemed ended, emerged upon the theatre of world history, not as local patriots nor the art creators of single cities, but as the trained and competent interpreters of the more universal phases of antique culture. The conquest of Alexander made possible a Hellenic Orient, — as great an event in the history of civilization as the Romanization of the West. But the epic of that conquest was never written, not even the prose of it, by men worthy of the theme. Fairy-like stories of Oriental splendor revealed in Susa or Babylon found ready credence, at a time when truth itself was so incredible; and alongside of them are narratives of some of Alexander’s generals and subsequent rulers, like blue-books among fiction. Yet the Herodotus of the revanche was missing. Instead, the last great Greek historian was 189 a hostage at Rome, writing in the house of Scipio the story of the rise of the western imperial republic whose armies he himself saw sacking the treasures of Corinth when Greece became a Roman province.


The most recent edition of Xenophon’s works, is that edited by E. C. Marchant (5 vols., Vols. I-IV [1900-1910]). There are several good editions. The translation of all the works by H. G. Dakyns (4 vols., Vols. I-III, 1890-1897) is prefaced by a short biographical study. The Loeb Classical Library has announced a translation of Xenophon’s Hellenica, Anabasis, and Symposium by C. L. Brownson. The first volume has appeared. J. B. Bury’s judgment on Xenophon in The Ancient Greek Historians, pp. 150 sqq., is most severe. See also H. G. Dakyns, in E. Abbot, Hellenica (2d edition., 1898), pp. 296-352; Sir A. Grant, Xenophon (1871); A. Croiset, Xenophon, son caractère et son talent (1873); F. Leo, Die griechisch-römische Biographie (1901), pp. 87-93; H. A. Gutschmid, Kleine Schriften (5 vols., 1889-1904) (Aus Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der griechischen Historiographie) (Charakteristik des Xenophon), Vol. IV, pp. 328-335; E. Schwarz, in Rheinisches Museum, Vol. XLIV (1889) (Quellenuntersuchungen zur griechischen Geschichte), pp. 104 sqq., 161 sqq. For other literature see Jahresbericht über die Fortschritte der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, Vol. CXVII (1903), pp. 47 sqq., for 1899-1902; Vol. CXLII (1909), pp. 341 sqq., for 1903-1908; Sup. Vol. CLI (1911), pp. 402 sqq.

The classical work on the period between Xenophon and Polybius is R. C. Jebb’s The Attic Orators from Antiphon to Isæus (2 vols., 1876, 2d ed., 1893), but the section devoted to The Attic Orators (Chap. I, Sect. 10) in G. W. Botsford and E. G. Sihler’s Hellenic Civilization (1915), is now the best guide.

The works of Isocrates are edited by F. Blass (2 vols., 2d ed., Teubner, 1885) and by E. Drerup (Vol. I, 1906). There is an English translation by J. H. Freese (Vol. I, 1894). See G. Murray (1912), pp. 341-352; A. and M. Croiset (5 vols., 2d ed., 1896-1899; 3d ed., Vols. I-III, 1910-1914), Vol. IV, pp. 465-505; W. v. Christ (5th and 6th ed., 1908-1913), (5th ed.), Vol. I, pp. 531-545; J. B. Bury (1909), pp. 160 sqq.; R. C. Jebb, Attic Orators, Vol. II, Chaps. XII-XVIII, pp. 1-267, especially Chap. XIII, pp. 34-58. See aso R. v. Scala, Über Isocrates und die Geschichtsschreibung, Versommlungen deutscher Philologen und Schulmänner, 1891 (41 u., 42 vers.), pp. 102 sqq.; G. Misch, Geschichte der Autobiographie (1907), Vol. I, pp. 90 sqq.; Jahresbericht über die Fortschritte der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft, Sup. Vol. CLI (1911), pp. 308 sqq.; Vol. CLII (1911), pp. 76 sqq., for literature for 1886-1909.

On Ephorus, see the article in Pauly-Wissowa’s Real-Encyclopädie, Vol. VI, pp. 1-16. The fragments of his works are preserved in C. Müller, Fragmenta 190 Historicorum Græcorum (5 vols., 1841-1873), Vol. I, pp. 234-277, Vol. IV, pp. 641sqq. See G. Murray, p. 389; A. and M. Croiset, Vol. IV, pp. 655-662; W. v. Christ (5th ed.), Vol. I, pp. 408-501; J. B. Bury, pp. 163-165. See also B. Niese, Wann hat Ephorus sein Geschichtswerk geschrieben? in Hermes, Vol. XLIV (1909), pp. 170-178; E. Schwarz, Die Zeit des Ephorus (1911), pp. 161-206, 321-354; M. Büdinger, Universalhistorie im Altertum (1895), pp. 32 sqq.

The fragments of Theopompus are collected in C. Müller, Fragmenta Historicorum Græcorum, Vol. I, pp. 278-333, Vol. IV, pp. 643-645. See G. Murray, pp. 389-390; A. and M. Croiset, Vol. IV, pp. 662-674; W. v. Christ (5th ed.), Vol. I, pp. 501-503; J. B. Bury, pp. 165-167. See also J. Dellios, Zur Kritik des Geschictsschreibens Theopomps (1880); R. Hirzel, Zur Charakteristik Theopomps, in Rheinisches Museum, Vol. XLVII (1892), pp. 359-389; G. Busolt, Zur Glaubwürdigkeit Theompomps, in Hermes, Vol. XLV (1910), pp. 220-249; E. Rohde, Kleine Schriften (2 vols., 1901), Vol. I, pp. 345-346; Vol. II, pp. 19-25; W. Schranz, Theopomps Philippika (1912).

The texts of Timæus are collected in C. Müller, Fragmenta Historicorum Græcorum, Vol. I, pp. 193-233. See the histories of Greek literature, G. Murray, pp. 390 sqq.; A. and M. Croiset, Vol. V, pp. 109-115; W. v. Christ (5th ed.), Vol. II, pp. 168-171; F. Susemihl, Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur in der Alexandrinerzeit (2 vols., 1891-1892), Vol. I, pp. 563-583; J. B. Bury, pp. 167-170. See also J. Geffcken, Timaios’ Geographie des Westens (1892); C. Clasen, Historisch-kritische Untersuchung über Timaios von Tauromenion (1883); A. Hopf, Über die Einleitung zum Timaios, Prog. Erlangen (1884); E. Schwartz, Timaeos’ Geschichtswerk, in Hermes, Vol. XXXIV (1899), pp. 481-493; J. Beloch, Die Okonomie der Geschichte des Timaios, in Jahrbücher für classische Philologie, Vol. CXXIII (1881), pp. 697 sqq.; M. Büdinger, Universalhistorie im Altertum (1895), pp. 51 sqq.


1  Bury, following Wilamowitz-Möllendorff, points out that it was not an age favorable to the composition of political history in any case. The engrossing intellectual interest was then political science. And one need only look into the treatises on political science written by the theorist today to see how history suffers!

2  J. B. Bury, The Ancient Greek Historians, pp. 151-152.

3   Vide R. C. Jebb, The Attic Orators from Antiphon to Isæus (2 vols., 1876, 2d ed., 1893).

4  On the other hand the rhetor’s work in the general art or discipline of speaking was almost synonymous with education.

5  J. B. Bury, op. cit., p. 174.

6  Cf. W. v. Christ, Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur, (5th ed.), Vol. II, pp. 228-235, 348-367.

7  In his insistence upon the need of a general war of all Greece with Persia in order to unite the Greeks, using Philip as the weapon and instrument, Isocrates’ reliance upon a military salvation reminds one of Bismarckian tactics. The death of the orator, then in his ninety-eighth year, followed immediately upon Chæronea.

8  Cf. Photius, Bibliotheca, Chap. CLXXVI (Cf. A. and M. Croiset, Histoire de la littérature grecque, 2d ed., Vol. IV, pp. 656-657). Diodorus and Strabo also relied largely upon Ephorus for the field he covered. Cf. H. Peter, Wahrheit und Kunst (1911), pp. 151 sqq.

9  Cf.. E. Meyer, Forschungen sur alten Geschichte, Vol. I, pp. 186 sqq. The influence of Isocrates shows itself especially in his smooth-flowing style, tending, however, toward a languid diffuseness.

10  Cf. Plutarch (Præcepta Gerendae Reipublicae, 803 b) includes Theopompus in this remark; cf. W. v. Christ, op. cit. (6th ed.), Vol. I, pp. 529 sqq.

11  The Histories of Polybius, Bk. XII, Chap. XXVIII.

12  The Histories of Polybius, Bk. XII, Chap. XXVIII. Here, perhaps, mention should be made of the fragment of a Hellenica of greater value than that of Xenophon, which was published in 1908 by B. G. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt in Oxyrhynchus Papyri, Part V, pp. 143 sqq., since the most recent commentator, E. M. Walker, in his lectures entitled The Hellenica Oxyrhynchia, its Authorship and Authority (Oxford, 1913) decides for Ephorus. It had been attributed to Theopompus by Eduard Meyer, (Theopomps Hellenika, 1909), who compared the author to Schlosser or Macaulay, by Busolt, Wilamowitz, and in a sense, perhaps, by the editors of the text. Against this conclusion were also ranged such scholars as Blass, Judeich, Lehmann-Haupt, Beloch, De Sanctis, and most English scholars (see literature in Walker, op. cit., Lect. I). Bury (Ancient Greek Historians) argued for Cratippus, a younger contemporary of Thucydides, who continued his work. Cratippus had objected to the speeches in Thucydides and there are one in this Hellenica. For the other fragments of Cratippus see C. Müller, Fragmenta Historicorum Græcorum, Vol. II, pp. 75 sqq. G. W. Botsford (Hellenic Civilization, Chap. I, Sect. 9, p. 40) is inclined to accept Cratippus as author.

13  Cicero’s chief comment deals with the contrast in the style of the two pupils of Isocrates. Cf. De Oratore, Bk. III, Chap. IX: “We see that from the same schools of artists and masters, eminent in their respective pursuits, there have gone forth pupils very unlike each other, yet all praiseworthy, because the instruction of the teacher has been adapted to each person’s natural genius; a fact of which the most remarkable example (to say nothing of other sciences) is that saying of Isocrates, an eminent teacher of eloquence, that he used to apply the spur to Ephorus, but to put the rein on Theopompus; for the one, who overleaped all bounds in the boldness of his expressions, he restrained; the other who hesitated and was bashful, as it were, he stimulated: nor did he produce in them any resemblance to each other, but gave to the one such an addition, and retrenched from the other so much superfluity, as to form in both that excellence of which the natural genius of each was susceptible.” (Watson’s translation.)

There is a similar remark in Brutus, Chap. LVI.

14  Diodorus already, in the first century B.C., reported the loss of rolls of Theopompus (. . . Bibliothecae Historiae, Bk. XVI, Chap. III, Sect. 8).

15  Fragments in C. Müller, Fragmenta Historicorum Græcorum, Vol. I, pp. 278-333; Vol. IV, pp. 643-645.

16  Quoted by Polybius, The Histories, Bk. XII, Chap. XXVIII a. (Shuckburgh’s translation.)

These researches of Timæus in chronology naturally bring up a very knotty problem, that of the material upon which he could draw. We have seen the general character of the work of Hellanicus, the one standard authority in chronology. After him chronicles of Athens (Atthides) continued to be written, and grew in scope to include all kinds of happenings. A line of Atthid writers developed, somewhat like the Pontifical annalists at Rome. (J. B. Bury, The Ancient Greek Historians, p. 183.) Of these, Androtion, the pupil of Isocrates, whose Atthis appeared in 350, was the main source for Aristotle’s Constitution of Athens. (See articles in Pauly-Wissowa and G. De Sanctis, L’Attide di Androzione e un papirio di Oxyrhynchos in Atti della reale accademia della scienze di Torino, Vol. XLIII, 1908, pp. 351-356), although scholars have seriously considered whether the Constitution was not actually written by Philochorus, the last, and greatest, of the Atthid writers. (See J. H. Wright in American Journal of Philology, Vol. XII, 1891). Bury (op. cit., p. 183) goes so far as to say that “the recovery of Philochorus would mean a greater addition to our historical knowledge than the θηναίων Πολιτεία.” This last work is the only one of the numerous historical treatises of Aristotle which has been recovered. It was found in Egypt in 1890. F. G. Kenyon’s text (1891, 1892) and translation (1912) are the best. See bibliography in G. W. Botsford and E. G. Sihler, Hellenic Civilization, Chap. I, Sect. 9. This work does not entitle Aristotle to a place among the great historians. Under his direction a collection of 158 constitutions of states was made for a comparative study of politics. In a sense, therefore, Aristotle’s place in the history of constitutional government is that of a scientific pioneer. But he seems to resemble an antique Montesquieu rather than a Stubbs or Waitz, to whom Bury (p. 182) compares him.


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