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The name given to the oldest Greek historians, who by their first attempts at disquisitions in prose marked the transition from narrative poetry to prose history. As in the case of epic poetry, so these earliest historical writings emanated from Ionia, where the first attempts at an exposition of philosophic reflexions in prose were made at about the same time by Pherecydes, Anaximander, and Anaximeues; and, in both cases alike, it was the Ionic dialect that was used. This class of writing long preserved in its language the poetic character which it inherited from its origin in the epic narrative. It was only by degrees that it approached the tone of true prose. It confined itself absolutely to the simple telling of its story, which was largely made up of family and local traditions. It never classified its materials from a more elevated point of view, or scrutinised them with critical acumen. The logographers flourished from about 550 B.C. down to the Persian Wars. Their latest representatives extend, however, down to the time of the Peloponnesian War. When true history arose with Herodotus, they soon lapsed into oblivion, whence they were rescued in Alexandrian days. Many of the works ascribed to them were however believed to be spurious, or at least interpolated. We possess fragments only of a few. The larger number of the historic writers who are described as logographers were Asiatic Greeks, e.g. CADMUS of Miletus, author of a history of the founding of Miletus and the colonization of Ionia (he lived about 540 B.C., and was considered the first writer of historic prose); further, DIONYSIUS of Miletus, a writer of Persian history, HECATAeUS (q.v.) Of MiletUS (550-476), XANTHUS of Sardis (about 496), a writer of Lydian history, HELLANICUS (q.v.) of Lesbos (about 480-400), CHARON of Lampsacus (about 456), a compiler of Persian history and annals of his native town, PHERECYDES of the Carian island Leros (died about 400 B.C.), who lived at Athens, and in his great collection of myths in ten books treated chiefly of the early days of Attica. Some belonged to the colonies in the West, e.g. HIPPYS of Rhegium, at the time of the Persian War the oldest writer on Sicily and Italy. The only representative from Greece itself is ACUSILAUS of Argos in Boeotia, the author of a genealogical work.
HIPPYS 98.25%
One of the Greek Logographi (q.v.).
CHARON 83.09%
A Greek historian. (See LOGOGRAPHI.)
CADMUS 83.09%
A Greek historian. See LOGOGRAPHI.
XANTHUS 83.09%
A Greek historian. (See LOGOGRAPHI.)
A Greek logographos. (See LOGOGRAPHI.)
One of the Greek logographi or chroniclers, born at Mytilene in Lesbos about 480 B.C. He is said to have lived till the age of 85, and to have gone on writing until after B.C. 406. In the course of his long life he composed a series of works on genealogy, chorography, and chronology. He was the first writer who attempted to introduce a systematic chronological arrangement into the traditional periods of Greek, and especially Athenian, history and mythology. His theories of the ancient Attic chronology were accepted down to the time of Eratosthenes.
The famous Greek historian, called the Father of History, born about 490-480 B.C., at Halicarnassus in Asia Minor. He was of noble family, being the son of Lyxes and Dryo (or Rhoio). Like his uncle, the poet Panyasis (q.v.), he fled in 460 to the island of Samos, having been expelled from his native town by the tyrant Lygdamis. From this spot he seems to have completed his great travels, which he had already begun when at Halicarnassus. These travels were most extensive: he traversed Asia Minor, the interior of Asia nearly as far as Susa, the Graeco-Asiatic islands, Egypt as far as Elephantine, Cyrene, the shores of the Euxine as far as the Caucasus and the mouth of the Danube, as well as Greece and the neighbouring countries. Having returned with his uncle to Halicarnassus, he took part in the expulsion of Lygdamis (about 450), but, probably in consequence of political intrigues, he fell into disgrace with his fellow townsmen, and was again compelled to quit his native country. In 445 he betook himself to Athens in order to take part in the projected colonization of Thurii in Southern Italy. Here he gave public readings from the works which he had begun to compose in Samos (probably the portions relating to the Persian War). They met with such applause that he was rewarded with a present of ten talents (£2,000) from the public treasury. He is also said to have given similar recitations elsewhere--at the festal assembly of the Greeks at Olympia, and also at Corinth and Thebes. We are told that at one of these recitals Thucydides was present as a boy, and was so affected that he shed tears and resolved to devote himself to the writing of history. [See, however, Dahlmann's Life of Herodotus, chap. ii, sect. ii.] Herodotus was in close intercourse with the leading men of the day. In Athens, which he seems to have often visited, after having settled at Thurii (443), he knew Pericles and the poet Sophocles, who composed a special poem in his honour in 442. It was doubtless there that he was prompted to mould the materials of his history into a complete and artistic whole. He carried forward this plan at Thurii; but it is probable that his death, which occurred about 424, prevented his finishing his grand design. This work (which the Alexandrine critics divided into nine books, named after the nine Muses), marks the beginning of real historical writing among the Greeks. The industry of the earlier historical writers (known as Logographi, q.v.) had contented itself with collecting material for a limited purpose, such as histories of towns and families, arranged in an uncritical and inartistic manner. It is the merit of Herodotus, that, by his study of the existing literature and by his travels, he collected historical, geographical, and ethnographical materials relating to the greater part of the then known world, that he sifted them with some critical discernment, that he arranged them under leading topics, and set them forth in an original and attractive form. The true scope of the work, which embraces a period of 320 years down to the battle of Mycale (479), is the struggle between the Greeks and the barbarians; with this leading thread of his narrative are inwoven, in a countless number of episodes, descriptions of the countries and races, more or less closely connected with the principal events of the story, so that the result is a complete picture of the known world as it then existed. In subordination to this general object, the whole narrative is inspired with the one guiding thought, that all history is determined by a moral government of the world, ordained by a Providence which rules the destinies of man; and that every exaltation of man above the limits fixed by the eternal law of heaven excites the jealousy of the gods, and draws down an avenging Nemesis on the head of the guilty one himself, or his descendants. His veracity shows itself in the sharp distinction he draws between personal observation, oral information, and mere conjecture; his impartiality, his just recognition of praiseworthy qualities (even on the side of the enemy), is displayed in his frank censure of political or moral failings which he thinks he perceives in his friends; while his nobility of character is evinced by his hearty delight in all that is good and beautiful. Although by race Herodotus belonged to the Dorians, he nevertheless made use of the Ionic dialect which had been employed by his predecessors, the logographi, though at times he mingles it with Epic, Doric, and Attic forms. His simplicity of style recalls that of the logographi, but he far excels them in clearness and general intelligibility of composition, in a pleasing flow of language, in an epic, and often even redundant, fulness of expression, and above all in a genius for narrative, which he shows in the vivid description of the most diverse events.-- A biography of Homer, written in the Ionic dialect, bears the name of Herodotus; it is really the work of a rhetorician at the beginning of the 1st century of our era.
Geographical research and literature took their rise, like historical literature, among the Ionians of Asia Minor. Their extended commerce and their activity in founding colonies enlarged their geographical horizon. The necessity was thus felt of utilizing and registering the knowledge already acquired for the purpose of discovering the form and constitution of the earth. The first attempt at sketching a map of the world was made by Aristagoras of Miletus about 550 B.C. His kinsman Hecataeus, one of the writers called Logographi, who flourished about fifty years later, corrected and enlarged this map, and added a commentary. (See LOGOGRAPHI.) This commentary, of which only fragments are preserved in quotations, is the oldest piece of purely geographical writing in Greek. The geographical chapters in the history of Herodotus (about 450 B.C.) compensate us to a certain extent for the loss of this work, and of the other works of the Logographi on history and geography. But they only treat the eastern half of the known world. It became indeed, in the absence of a regular tradition of geographical science, a usual thing for historians to insert geographical disquisitions into their works. The writings of Thucydides, Xenophon, Ctesias, Ephorus, Theopompus, Timaeus, and others down to Polybius, afford examples of this. The first purely geographical work which has come down to us in a complete state is the Periplus bearing the name of Scylax, written in the first part of the 4th century B.C. This is a description of the coast of the Mediterranean. About the same time the astronomer Eudoxus of Cnidus made a great advance in the theory of physical geography. He was the first who adduced mathematical proof of the spherical shape of the earth, which had been asserted before his time by Pythagoras. The division of the globe into five zones (two frigid, two temperate, and one torrid) is also due to him. About 330 B.C. Pytheas of Massilia explored towards the N.W. as far as the northern end of the British Islands and the coasts of the German Ocean. About the same time the campaigns of Alexander the Great opened up Asia as far as India to Greek research. Nearchus made a report of exceptional value on his coast voyage from the Indus to the Euphrates. All these discoveries were embodied, about 320 B.C. in a new map by Dicaearchus of Messana, a disciple of Aristotle. He was the first savant who treated physical geography in a scientific manner. He assumed the existence of a southern hemisphere, and made an estimate of the earth's circumference, to which he gave the exaggerated measurement of 40,000 miles. His map remained for a long time the standard work of the kind. The southern and eastern parts of India were still further opened out under Alexander's successors, in consequence of the campaigns of the Seleucidae, and several journeys undertaken by ambassadors, among which that of Megasthenes should be mentioned. The commercial expeditions of the Ptolemies brought in fresh knowledge of the coasts of Arabia and E. Africa. The first man who arranged the mass of geographical materials hitherto collected, into a really scientific system, was Eratosthenes of Cyrene (about 276-175 B.C.). His materials he found in the rich collections of the Alexandrian library, Alexandria being then the central point of the commerce of the world. He was fully equipped for his task by his acquirements both in physical science and mathematics, and in history and philology. He endeavoured for the first time to estimate the earth's circumference by a measurement of degrees carried out over a space of 16 degrees of latitude. The imperfection of his method brought out too large a quantity, 25,000 geographical miles. The name of Hipparchus of Nicaea (about 140 B.C.) marks a considerable advance. He may be called the founder of mathematical geography, as he applied geographical length and breadth to determine the position of places on the earth's surface. He also superseded the rectangular and equidistant projection of parallels and meridians, hitherto used in maps, by a projection which, with few modifications, is identical with the one now in use. The parallels were represented by segments of a circle, the meridians by straight lines or curves, corresponding with the portion of surface to be represented, drawn at distances corresponding to the actual distances on the surface of the globe. The estimate of the earth's circumference which was accepted as correct down to the 10th century A.D., was that of Posidonius of Apamea (about 90 B.C.). Taking as his basis the measurement of the shortest distance from Alexandria to Rhodes, he brought out the result as 18,000 geographical miles, instead of 21,600 (or about 25,000 English miles.) Only fragments remain of the writings of these geographers, and others contemporary with them. But we possess the great work of Strabo of Amaseia, finished about 20 A.D., the most important monument of descriptive geography and ethnology which has come down from Greek antiquity. Thanks to the Roman conquest, he was in a position to give a more accurate description of the West than his predecessors. Up to this time all that the Romans had done for geographical research was to open up Western Europe and Northern Africa to the Greek savants. An immense service was rendered to science by Agrippa, under the direction of Augustus. He measured and indicated on a map the distance between the stations on the great military roads and along the coasts of the Roman empire, thus contributing enormously to our knowledge of ancient topography, and laying a foundation for our maps. These data formed the basis of a new map of the world, which was first set up in Rome. Numerous copies were probably taken for the larger cities of the empire, and smaller portable ones distributed among the military and the administrating officials. It is probably upon copies of this kind that the Tabula Peutingeriana and the Iteneraria are based. (See PEUTINGER; ITENERARIA.) In the 1st century A.D. much was added to geographical knowledge by the expeditions of the Romans into the interior of North Africa and the North of Europe. The most important literary works of the Romans on geography belong to this period. These are (1) the compendium of Pomponius Mela; (2) the geographical books of Pliny the Elder's great encyclopaedia, a dreary uncritical compilation, but the only representative we have of a number of lost works; (3) the Germania of Tacitus, an essay mainly of an ethnographical character. The last great contribution made to geographical science in antiquity is the work of the Alexandrian astronomer Ptolemy (about 140 A.D.). This consists mainly of lists of the places marked in the current maps which he makes his authorities, with their latitude and longitude. After Ptolemy, the geographical literature of the Greeks and Romans alike has nothing to show but compilations and extracts. Towards the end of the 6th century, Stephanus of Byzantium compiled a dictionary of geography, which is valuable for the quantity of information taken from the older and lost writings which it embodies. The book of Pausanias (about 175 A.D.) is valuable as bearing on the special topography of Greece.
From an early date the Greeks employed in the production of books a paper prepared from the Egyptian papyrus plant. This was probably manufactured as follows: as many strips as possible of equal size were cut out of the cellular tissue of the stalk; these were laid side by side, and crossed by a second layer. The layers were firmly fastened together by being damped with size and pressed. The breadth of the scroll depended on the height of the stalk, while its length could be extended at pleasure. After the time of Augustus, the preparation of the papyrus by a process of bleaching was brought to such perfection that the best Egyptian kind took only the third place. Under the Empire eight different kinds were distinguished, the two best of which were called the charta Augusta (only used for letters), and the charta Livia; these were 10 ½ inches broad. The worst kind was only used for packing. As a rule the papyrus-rolls of moderate length were written only on one side, and the writing was divided into columns. [Pliny, N. H. xiii 68-83]. For the binding of the papyrus-rolls, see BOOKS. The use of skins for the purposes of writing was at least as old as that of papyrus. The finer method of preparing them was, however, first discovered during the first half of the 2nd century B.C. at Pergamum, whence the name charta Pergamena, "parchment." But as late as the 1st century A.D. papyrus was more generally employed, probably on account of its greater cheapness; and it was not till the 4th century that parchment came into more general use, as being more durable, and admitting of being written upon on both sides. The pen was a split reed (calamus), the best being supplied by Egypt and Cnidus in Caria. The ink (atramentum) employed was a preparation resembling Indian ink, made of soot and gum, or of the juice of the cuttle-fish. Both of these could be erased with a sponge, whereas ink made of oxide of iron and gallnuts, which appears to have been introduced later, and to have been the only kind capable of being used for parchment, left more or less clear traces behind, even if rubbed out with pumice-stone. In ordinary life people used for letters, notices, and despatches, as also in schools, wooden tablets (tabelloe) with a raised rim, within which was spread a thin layer of wax. On this the characters were scratched with the point of a metal or ivory instrument called a stilus; they could be effaced with the other end of the instrument, which was bent or flattened out like a paper-folder. Two or more such tablets could be fastened together in the form of a book. (See DIPTYCHON.) The writing materials most commonly employed among the Greeks and Romans are shown in our cuts. <picture> <name> INK-STAND WITH REED PEN, ROLL WITH CORNUA AND PARCHMENT LABEL, STILUS, WAX TABLET, AND ACCOUNT BOOK. (Mural Painting from Pompeii; Museo Borbonico i 12, 2.) </name> </picture> <picture> <name> BUNDLE OF REED-PENS, WAX TABLET, AMD STILUS. (Sepnlchral relief from Perret, Catacombes de Rome, lxxiii 6. Xanthus. A Greek historian. (See LOGOGRAPHI.)
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