Greek Historiography Essay

There is no overview in English of the whole of ancient Greek historical writing, that is, from Hecataeus c. 500 BCE to Herodian c. 250 CE (or beyond, if one wishes). Lendle 1992, in German, represents the only recent attempt to approach comprehensive coverage. Marincola 2001 and Luce 1997 provide narratives, for the scholar and student respectively, starting from Herodotus (and his predecessors) and ending with Polybius. Harrison 2010 offers a very brief, up-to-date introduction to the major figures and issues. Marincola 2007 contains contributions from many of the most prominent scholars in the field and can easily be consulted for a wide range of authors, genres, and themes. Feldherr and Hardy 2011 includes a number of essays on Greece in company with treatment of historical writing in the ancient world as a whole. Immerwahr and Connor 1985 played a crucial role in shaping the late 20th-century study of Herodotus and Thucydides, and its sections on these two authors provide nice summations of their views; the treatment of later writers is more uneven. Brown 1973 is still useful especially for nonextant historians: it has full chapters or sections on Ctesias, Megasthenes, Timaeus, and Agatharchides, authors who are usually passed over quickly or neglected in other overviews.

  • Brown, Truesdell S. 1973. The Greek historians. Lexington, MA, and London: Heath.

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    Focuses on the changes in Greek historical writing from the 5th to the 2nd century BCE. In addition to chapters on Herodotus, Thucydides, and Polybius, contains good discussions of some important fragmentary historians. Occasional quotations from the historians provide a flavor of their works.

  • Feldherr, Andrew, and Grant Hardy, eds. 2011. The Oxford history of historical writing. Vol. 1, Beginnings to AD 600. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Seven chapters bear upon Greek historiography, including its origins in prose and poetry, inscriptions, the Hellenistic period, Josephus, and the historians of imperial and Christian Rome.

  • Harrison, Thomas. 2010. Greek historiography. In The Edinburgh companion to ancient Greece and Rome. Edited by Edward Bispham, Thomas Harrison, and Brian Sparkes, 377–383. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press.

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    Encyclopedia-style entry that concisely conveys essential background information and a sense of the scholarship and its concerns. Brief sections on Herodotus, Thucydides, the 4th century, Hellenistic and Roman eras, scholarly attitudes, and fragments, as well as a list of further reading.

  • Immerwahr, Henry R., and W. R. Connor. 1985. Historiography. In The Cambridge history of classical literature. Vol. 1, Greek literature. Edited by P. E. Easterling and B. M. W. Knox, 426–471. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

    DOI: 10.1017/CHOL9780521210423E-mail Citation »

    Sections on Herodotus and Thucydides, emphasizing the continuities between the two authors’ historical writing. These are followed by a briefer section on historical writing in the 4th century and Hellenistic age (Xenophon and Polybius are touched on more fully). Emphasis on the influence of rhetoric.

  • Lendle, Otto. 1992. Einführung in die griechische Geschichtsschreibung: von Hekataios bis Zosimos. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.

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    An attempt to cover the full extent of Greek historiography; thus, while the extant historians are treated at greater length, space is also reserved for many fragmentary historians. Chronological scope from 500 BCE to 250 CE, with a very brief conclusion on late antiquity.

  • Luce, T. J. 1997. The Greek historians. London and New York: Routledge.

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    Useful introduction for undergraduates. Chapters on the origins of historical writing, Herodotus (two), Thucydides (two), 4th-century and Hellenistic historians, and Polybius. Clear and engaging, plentiful examples cited from ancient authors. No footnotes, but a “Further Reading” section at end (pp. 146–148).

  • Marincola, John. 2001. Greek historians. Greece & Rome, New Surveys in the Classics 31. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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    Survey of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Polybius concentrating on the most common scholarly questions of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Also includes an introductory chapter on the origins of historical writing and a short chapter on the Hellenistic historians. Thorough knowledge of the texts and the literature conveyed in concise form.

  • Marincola, John, ed. 2007. A companion to Greek and Roman historiography. 2 vols. Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

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    Excellent starting point for many aspects of the field. Broad surveys of issues and genres as well as close readings from most extant authors. All contributions are short (ten to fifteen pages), with suggestions for further reading.

  • Notes on Contributors xii

    Preface xx

    Acknowledgments xxii

    Ancient Authors: Abbreviations xxiv

    Reference Works: Abbreviations xxxvii

    Introduction 1
    John Marincola

    PART I Contexts 11

    1 The Place of History in the Ancient World 13
    Roberto Nicolai

    2 The Origin of Greek Historiography 27
    Catherine Darbo-Peschanski

    3 History and Historia: Inquiry in the Greek Historians 39
    Guido Schepens

    4 Documents and the Greek Historians 56
    P. J. Rhodes

    5 The Prehistory of Roman Historiography 67
    T. P. Wiseman

    6 Myth and Historiography 76
    Suzanne Saïd

    7 The Construction of Meaning in the First Three Historians 89
    Carolyn Dewald

    8 Characterization in Ancient Historiography 102
    L. V. Pitcher

    9 Speeches in Classical Historiography 118
    John Marincola

    10 Readers and Reception: A Text Case 133
    A. J. Woodman

    PART II Surveys 145

    11 The Development of the War Monograph 147
    Tim Rood

    12 Continuous Histories (Hellenica) 159
    Christopher Tuplin

    13 Universal History from Ephorus to Diodorus 171
    John Marincola

    14 Local History and Atthidography 180
    Phillip Harding

    15 Western Greek Historiography 189
    Riccardo Vattuone

    16 Greek Historians of Persia 200
    Dominique Lenfant

    17 The Historians of Alexander the Great 210
    Andrea Zambrini

    18 Greek Historians of the Near East: Clio’s ‘‘Other’’ Sons 221
    John Dillery

    19 The Jewish Appropriation of Hellenistic Historiography 231
    Gregory E. Sterling

    20 The Greek Historians of Rome 244
    Christopher Pelling

    21 The Early Roman Tradition 259
    Hans Beck

    22 Memoir and Autobiography in Republican Rome 266
    Andrew M. Riggsby

    23 Roman Historiography in the Late Republic 275
    D. S. Levene

    24 The Emperor and his Historians 290
    John Matthews

    25 The Epitomizing Tradition in Late Antiquity 305
    Thomas M. Banchich

    PART III Readings 313

    26 To Each His Own: Simonides and Herodotus on Thermopylae 315
    Pietro Vannicelli

    27 Rhampsinitos and the Clever Thief (Herodotus 2.121) 322
    Stephanie West

    28 The Enigma of Discourse: A View of Thucydides 328
    Leone Porciani

    29 Contest (Ago ¯n) in Thucydides 336
    Donald Lateiner

    30 Narrative Manner and Xenophon’s More Routine Hellenica 342
    Vivienne Gray

    31 Fortune (tych¯e) in Polybius 349
    Frank W. Walbank

    32 Polybius and Aetolia: A Historiographical Approach 356
    Craige B. Champion

    33 Diodorus Siculus on the Third Sacred War 363
    Peter Green

    34 Caesar’s Account of the Battle of Massilia (BC 1.34–2.22): Some Historiographical and Narratological Approaches 371
    Christina Shuttleworth Kraus

    35 The Politics of Sallustian Style 379
    Ellen O’Gorman

    36 The Translation of Catiline 385
    Andrew Feldherr

    37 Claudius Quadrigarius and Livy’s Second Pentad 391
    Gary Forsythe

    38 Fog on the Mountain: Philip and Mt. Haemus in Livy 40.21–22 397
    Mary Jaeger

    39 Clothing Cincinnatus: Dionysius of Halicarnassus 404
    Clemence Schultze

    40 The Imperial Republic of Velleius Paterculus 411
    Alain M. Gowing

    41 Josephus and the Cannibalism of Mary (BJ 6.199–219) 419
    Honora Howell Chapman

    42 Quintus Curtius Rufus on the ‘‘Good King’’: The Dioxippus Episode in Book 9.7.16–26 427
    E. J. Baynham

    43 Tacitus and the Battle of Mons Graupius: A Historiographical Route Map? 434
    Rhiannon Ash

    44 Feast Your Eyes on This: Vitellius as a Stock Tyrant (Tac. Hist. 3.36–39) 441
    Elizabeth Keitel

    45 Arrian, Alexander, and the Pursuit of Glory 447
    A. B. Bosworth

    46 Toward a Literary Evaluation of Appian’s Civil Wars, Book 1 454
    Gregory S. Bucher

    47 Cassius Dio: A Senator and Historian in the Age of Anxiety 461
    Martin Hose

    48 Ammianus’ Roman Digressions and the Audience of the Res Gestae 468
    David Rohrbacher

    49 ‘‘To Forge Their Tongues to Grander Styles’’: Ammianus’ Epilogue 474
    Gavin Kelly

    PART IV Neighbors 481

    50 Epic and Historiography at Rome 483
    Matthew Leigh

    51 Ethnography and History 493
    Emma Dench

    52 Tragedy and History 504
    Richard Rutherford

    53 Antiquarianism and History 515
    Benedetto Bravo

    54 Biography and History 528
    Philip Stadter

    55 Geography and History 541
    Johannes Engels

    56 Fiction and History: Historiography and the Novel 553
    J. R. Morgan

    PART V Transition 565

    57 Late Antique Historiography, 250–650 CE 567
    Brian Croke

    Bibliography 582

    Index Locorum 642

    General Index 677

    "This is a major work … that any library serving scholars in or relating to this field—and there will be many and widely distributed among disciplines—will need to purchase … .It is logically planned and constructed." (Reference Reviews, Issue 5 2008)

    "Marincola personally speaks with authority on the entire tradition of ancient historiography, both Greek and Roman … and has collected a fine supporting cast of no fewer than 56 scholars." (The Anglo-Hellenic Review, Autumn 2008)

    “This new Companion gives a hearty boost to the ‘We are winning!’ camp, in its sustained engagement with this important issue … and also in its sheer energy and vivacity. One finds oneself with a veritable host of companions at one's elbow, each with a distinctive style and personality, and the product of various nationalities and scholarly traditions. The juxtaposition captures vividly the flavor of current scholarly debate, particularly since the majority of contributors are central figures in their area of scholarship. The volume represents an exhilarating compendium of cutting-edge perspectives on a range of themes. This tremendously valuable two-tome assembly of a stellar array of scholars and scholarship-its whole indeed greater than the sum of its parts-is a credit to its editor and publisher, displays the vibrancy of the field, and will well serve scholars and students in years to come.” (New England Classical Journal, November 2008)

    "All that you ever needed to know about Greek and Roman historians and current academic study thereon." (Journal of Classics Teaching)

    “Major work on a major genre … with no rival in English (or any other language) … .An indispensable guide to the subject. Essential.” (Choice)

    “Thorough, vigorous and up-to-date treatment of the subject, it should find a place on the shelves of scholars and students of antiquity alike.” (Bryn Mawr Classical Review)


    • Two-volume companion reflecting new directions in ancient historiography
    • Comprises a series of cutting edge articles written by recognised scholars
    • Presents broad, chronological treatments of important issues in the writing of history and antiquity
    • These are complemented by chapters on individual genres and sub-genres from the fifth century B.C.E. to the fourth century C.E.
    • Provides a series of interpretative readings on the individual historians
    • Contains essays on the neighbouring genres of tragedy, biography, and epic, among others, and their relationship to history

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