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Preface to Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker IV

About Die Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker continued Part IV (April 2020)

Die Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker Continued is the continuation of Felix Jacoby's monumental work on ancient fragmentary historians, Die Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker, originally published between 1923 and 1958. Before his death in 1959, Jacoby managed to complete the first three out of the six parts he had initially planned, namely (I) Genealogy and Mythography, (II) Chronography (political-military history) and (III) Horography and Ethnography. Other researchers then set out to continue Jacoby's massive task and add the parts that he had not been able to publish himself. In 1998-1999 three fascicles of Die Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker Part IV A (Biography) were published under the supervision of chief editor Guido Schepens (Leuven). The publication of FGrHist is now in the hands of chief editor Stefan Schorn (Leuven). Members of the Members of the Editorial Board are Tiziano Dorandi (Paris), Michael Erler (Würzburg), Franco Montanari (Genova), Guido Schepens (Leuven) and Kelly E. Shannon-Henderson (Cincinnati). Individual sections or subsections have been assigned to various section editors. Eventually, part IV will be published in print; in the meantime Brill's online edition provides access to the rich materials already available. In addition to that, Brill's online edition of FGrHistIV will be regularly updated and expanded.

The team of scholars working on the continuation of Die Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker divided the materials concerned with ancient Greek biography and antiquarian literature into various categories (see below). To mark the division between Jacoby's work and the FGrHist Continued, numbering of the historians in the latter part starts at 1000.

Published and forthcoming volumes (April 2020):

IV A. Biography - Section Editor: G. Schepens (Leuven) (until 2010), S. Schorn (Leuven)

  • IV A 1. The Pre-Hellenistic Period , nos. 1000-1013 [published in print, [ISBN 9789004110946] ( https://brill.com/view/title/1185), with contributions by J. Bollansée (Leuven), J. Engels (Köln), G. Schepens (Leuven) and E. Theys (Leuven)]
  • IV A 2. The Hellenistic Period (late 4th - 3rd c. BC)
  • IV A 3. Hermippos , no. 1026 [published in print, [ISBN 9789004113039] ( https://brill.com/view/title/6626), in 1999, by J. Bollansée (Leuven)]
  • IV A 4. The Hellenistic Period (2nd c. BC)
  • IV A 5. The Hellenistic Period (1st c. BC) [forthcoming in print in 2020]
  • IV A 6. The Hellenistic Period (Philodemos)
  • IV A 7. Imperial and Undated Authors , nos. 1053-1118 [published in print, [ISBN 9789004113046] ( https://brill.com/view/title/558), in 1999, by J. Radicke (Göttingen, now Kiel)]
  • IV A 8. Anonymous Papyri, nos. 1119-1139 [published in print, ISBN 9789004395787, in 2019 by J. Brusuelas (University of Kentucky), D. Obbink (Oxford), and Stefan Schorn (Leuven)]
  • IV A 9. Addenda, enkomia and psogoi, varia

IV B. History of Literature, Music, Art and Culture (and related genres) Section Editors: L. Bossina (Padova), S. Schorn (Leuven)

  • IV B 1. History of Literature and Music ; Section Editors: L. Bossina (Padova), S. Schorn (Leuven)
  • IV B 9. History of Culture: 1400. Dikaiarchos [published in print, [ISBN 9789004357419] ( https://brill.com/view/title/35952), in 2018, by G. Verhasselt (Leuven)]

IV C. Politeiai, Nomoi, Nomima (and related genres) , Section Editor: S. Schorn (Leuven)

IV D. History of Religion and Cult ; Section Editors: J. Brusuelas (University of Kentucky), Ch. Meccariello (Göttingen), and S. Schorn (Leuven)

IV E. Paradoxography and Antiquities

  • IV E 1-2. Paradoxography nrs. 1650-1683; Section Editor: S. Schorn (Leuven) [E 2 forthcoming in print in 2020/1]
  • IV E 3-4. Antiquities , nos. 1750-1787; Section Editors: D. Engels (Université Libre de Bruxelles), S. Schorn (Leuven) [E 4 forthcoming in print in 2020/1]

IV F: Collections, Anthologies and Hypomnemata (and related genres) ; Section Editors: T. Dorandi (Paris); S. Schorn (Leuven)

  • IV F 8 Paroemiography ; Section Editors: R. Tosi (Bologna), S. Schorn (Leuven)

© 2011- by Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands

Stefan Schorn (Editor-in-chief)

FGrHist IV.A.1: Preface

Guido Schepens

On his death in 1959, Felix Jacoby left incomplete the original plan for his massive and now standard edition and commentary, Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker. Jacoby had managed to complete the first three parts out of the six he had planned, namely (I) Genealogy and Mythography, (II) Zeitgeschichte (Jacoby’s idiosyncratic term for the most prominent genre, viz. political-military history), and (III) Horography and Ethnography: together 17 sizable volumes, dealing with 856 consecutively numbered authors, published between 1923 and 19582. The present fascicle containing biographical fragments from the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. is the first in a series of eight, which will provide a critical edition, with English translation and commentary, of all extant fragments concerning ancient Greek Biography. This project is merely part of a wider undertaking, designed to cover the fragmentary remains from several fields of writing more in the domain of ancient Greek History of Literature and Antiquarianism.

Ten years ago, Prof. G.-A. Lehmann (formerly Cologne, now Göttingen) availed himself of the opportunity provided by his concluding address to the international colloquium on the «Purposes of History» (Leuven, 24-26 May 1988) to plead the case for resuming work on Jacoby’s Fragmente der griechischen Historiker without delay3. The appeal began to bear fruit when, in February 1991, a small research team consisting, at the time, of G.-A. Lehmann, Dr. J. Engels (Cologne), Dr. J. Bollansée (Leuven) and myself, gathered for the first time to discuss a concrete plan for setting to work on the continuation-project. Initially, we agreed on a relatively limited plan, concentrating on the fragments of Greek political, literary and philosophical biography. The other branches of antiquarian literature which Jacoby had considered for inclusion in his ‘Werkteil IV’, would be addressed, so we assumed, at a later stage. However, as my collaborator J. Bollansée set out to draw up a first, provisional list of authors and titles to be incorporated in the collection of Greek biographical fragments, it soon became clear that in order even to assemble all relevant data it would be necessary to take more than an incidental look at the other materials. The close relationship of ancient Greek ‘biography’ to various other forms of ‘Antiquarianism’, indeed, in some cases, its position midway between several literary genres, made it impossible to divorce a study of the biographical fragments from the other sections envisaged for FGrHist IV. How, for instance, were we to draw a dividing line (if any) between literary biography, on the one hand, and works in the field of the ‘history of literature’ on the other, especially in the many instances of works which seem to represent some idiosyncratic mixture of the two? Again, should not a work like Περὶ τῶν ἐν Ἐφέσῳ τυράννων be catalogued under “historical collections” rather than mentioned, alongside many works on ἔνδοξοι, as some form of collective biography?

Faced with such questions, we were keen to check our provisional lists and our tentative ideas for the distribution of all antiquarian material in the various categories, against the preparatory notes Jacoby had left for this part of his magnum opus. Prof. em. H. Bloch (Harvard University) was kind enough to make the relevant portion of Jacoby's Nachlass available to the continuation-team. The team expanded into a much larger working group, as our initial, relatively ‘modest’ biography-project shaped into a considerably wider undertaking, involving the full programme originally drawn up by Jacoby for FGrHist IV: Prof. A. Henrichs (Harvard University), who in June 1992 brought back to Europe a microfilm and a photocopied set of the Jacoby-papers, was the first to join our ranks, which further increased as Prof. K. Brodersen (Mannheim), Dr. hab. Eveline Krummen (Zürich/Bern), Prof. H.-G. Nesselrath (Bern) and Dr. J. Radicke (Göttingen) committed themselves to our cause. As a fortunate consequence of parallel initiatives developed independently of our own project, an international venture is now underway to complete FGrHist, or at least the most important parts thereof, more or less according to the original plan established in 19224. Part V, on historical geography, which had been cancelled because of the death in 1964 of Friedrich Gisinger5, is again part of the programme: the edition, translation of and commentary on the fragments concerning historical geography is to be co-ordinated by a working group of the Ernst-Kirsten-Gesellschaft, comprising H.-J. Gehrke (Freiburg), P. Funke (Münster), E. Olshausen (Stuttgart) and F. Prontera (Perugia). At the same time Prof. Ch. W. Fornara is undertaking the task of publishing an updated version of the text left behind by Jacoby for the commentary on FGrHist IIIC (Autoren über einzelne Länder. Nr. 608a-856)6.

The Jacoby-papers made available to us consist of an ‘Entwurf’, i.e. a general plan for part IV, and some 1.000 ‘Zettel’ registering data (references to the sources of the fragments and some bibliographical information) on individual authors. The few comments, written in a distinctively telegrammatic style, are rather unevenly spread over the document as a whole. The scholarly interest of these observations is unquestionable, especially when they express Jacoby’s own perplexity at the obscurity or ambiguity of much of the evidence. They cannot, however, be considered to amount to a proper commentary. For this reason, references to the views expressed in the Nachlass will be duly made whenever this seems appropriate, but we do not, as a rule, intend to provide a complete transcription of Jacoby’s text (unlike Fornara, who integrates Jacoby’s more ample, sometimes nearly finished notes in German into his commentary to FGrHist 608a-665).

What strikes the reader most, perhaps, in regard to Jacoby’s comments as a whole, is the still very unsettled state of affairs, which leaves us, in fact, with more questions unsolved than clarified. In Jacoby’s ‘Entwurf’ the authors and/or work titles to be dealt with in FGrHist IV are distributed over no less than 24 categories or rubrics (some of them with titles in Greek, others in German). At one stage he even considers creating more and ‘kleinere abschnitte’. Jacoby stresses, repeatedly, the provisional character of the ‘lists’, and we do not know how he would, eventually, have arranged the numerous and diverse materials—amounting to over six hundred items—for final publication. Admittedly, the problems that emerge from his tentative use of so many rubrics are for the greater part irreducibly related to the many types of works to be collected and arranged under the aggregate term “Biography, History of Literature and Antiquarian Literature”. But at least some of the perplexing difficulties may be laid at Jacoby’s own door, as they appear directly linked to his broad definition of ‘history’ — encompassing “virtually all forms of non-fiction prose writing”7 — and to his genos-oriented approach, predicated on an early twentieth-century understanding of ‘philo-logico-antiquarian literature’, which, needless to say, does not quite match the definitions or practices of Hellenistic philologoi8. In this connection I may refer the reader to my general presentation of the continuation project in “Jacoby’s FGrHist: Problems, Methods, Prospects” 9. Besides arguing why FGrHist deserves to be continued, this paper touches on the many and varied problems involved in taking over such a large-scale project, it evokes the methodological issues connected with the selection and categorization of the materials, and suggests, in regard to the final layout of FGrHist IV, drastically reducing the large number of categories to a — hopefully — more manageable and user-friendly structure in six parts. Adopting this proposal, the working group agreed to arrange all fragments to be dealt with in FGrHist IV under the following headings: IVA: Biography, IVB: History of Literature, Music and Art (including sections entitled Bühnen-altertümer, Bibliothekwesen, Pinakes, Kulturgeschichte, Heuremata by Jacoby); IVC: Politeiai, Nomoi, and Nomima; IVD: History of Religion and Cult; IVE: Paradoxography, Poikilography and Antiquities (including Ὰγῶνες, Κτίσεις, Αἰτίαι, Μετονομασίαι); IVF: Collections, Anthologies and Hypomnemata (including Apomnemoneumata, Apophthegmata, Chrestomathies; Paroemiography).

So far for the general structure of FGrHist IV. Another problem is the question as to which materials should be included under which heading. In dealing with this question — which inevitably has to be faced in any collection of fragments — we were mainly led, as is natural in a continuation- project, by the methodological guidelines originally laid down by Jacoby and governing his collection as a whole. This means primarily that we chose to adhere to the principle of editing together, as far as possible, all fragments of different works by a single author. However, it was not always clear under which heading an author should be classified, if he was active in a wide variety of fields. Having considered a number of options, it seemed best to proceed according to the following three hierarchical ground rules. Firstly, the total literary output of any writer should be edited in the section pointing to the author's main activity: following this principle, Dikaiarchos of Messene and Herakleides Pontikos will, for instance, be included in the volume on History of Literature, Music, and Art (IVB). Due references to the separate 'other' works by these authors are to be made at the appropriate places in the various corresponding sections. Secondly, when the main interest of an author cannot be determined, the sheer bulk of the fragments should be decisive. Hence the encyclopaedic oeuvre of Aristotle will appear in the volume on Πολιτεῖαι (IVC). Following our ground rules, the two extant fragments of Aristotle’s περὶ ποιητῶν will only be indicated by means of a reference in the volume on History of Literature, while the texts themselves will appear in IVC, together with all of the other fragments. Thirdly, it may make sense to depart from the ground rule in a limited number of cases: thus the works of a single author may be split up and treated in different volumes, with different numbers, using cross-references. Jacoby himself occasionally resorted to this method10. A case in point within FGrHist IV is Aristoxenos of Tarentum: he was a key figure in both Biography and Literary and Musical History, and hence it is fully warranted, if not imperative, to split up his fragments into two separate categories, thus doing justice to the author's pioneering role in both genres.

As a result of the basic Jacoby-principle of keeping together the whole output of a given author, we do not intend to provide renewed treatment of authors or works which, on the basis of their very nature, would qualify for inclusion in one of the sections of FGrHist IV, but which have, for one reason or another, already been dealt with in previous parts of the collection. Reference (without a new number) will, of course, be made to Jacoby's earlier treatment. Here, too, exceptions may be made to the rule, where fresh evidence or important new evaluations seem to make it worthwhile reconsidering Jacoby’s earlier discussion. As far as the section on biographical fragments is concerned, the rule of avoiding repetition applies evidently, and a fortiori, to all writings already published in FGrHist that deal, in one form or another, with (parts of) lives of individuals: such are the many historical monographs centring on an individual; encomia or psogoi. For all their closeness to biography, these works remain generically different. The question also arose as to what to do with fictitious works, i.e. the so-called ‘Schwindelautoren’. Jacoby wanted to include them under a separate heading in FGrHist VI. Since it is now uncertain if there will ever be a part VI and what it might contain, these works have been incorporated whenever their fictitious character cannot be determined with certainty. Thus Timaios of Lokroi, Περὶ τοῦ Πυθαγόρου βίου has been included, but not without strong reservations regarding the author’s historicity.

The editors of FGrHist IV realize that any distribution of the remains of antiquarian literature over the named categories must inevitably be artificial to some extent. To borrow a phrase from an orally delivered paper by Sally Humphreys: “antiquarians are a kind of people rather than a genre of books”11. The numerous overlaps between the different categories testify to the truth of this observation. In practice too, the dearth of our evidence, rendering virtually impossible any conclusion as to the scope or nature of a work surviving in only a few poorly attested fragments, may make the edition of such a work under a given category resemble a bet which it was ill-inspired to make in the first place. Yet, for all the justified criticism that the attempt at generic classification may incur, together the—by no means strictly separate or mutually exclusive—categories constitute a frame(work) for studying all remains of the Greek antiquarian tradition in globo as well as the possible interaction between the several subcategories. Antiquarian works were written or compiled in a great variety of forms and in amazing quantities in both the Greek and the Roman world. The lack, so far, of a comprehensive collection of all surviving evidence certainly accounts for the fact that hitherto only few attempts have been made to investigate how, in the ancient Greek, Hellenistic and Roman contexts, the studying of antiquities may have been related to the writing of history proper. It is only by gathering together the fragmentary pieces of evidence and by giving them the attention they deserve that we can try to begin to evaluate the contribution made by antiquarians to the ancients’ use of the past in a wide variety of political, national, cultural, and religious settings. The question of how their works appealed to the tastes of highly cultured, erudite audiences and to the public at large has still to be brought into true perspective.

So much for the basic principles of arrangement per genre. As for the practical working methods adopted for the edition of the individual fragments, we likewise chose to comply, as much as possible, with the principles governing Jacoby’s edition. This means, among other things, that only those passages where an ancient author is mentioned by name qualify for inclusion in this edition: a (more or less) accurate assessment and interpretation of the texts thus collected is already difficult and hazardous, as it is, without the addition of anonymous and, therefore, speculative material rendering the problems even bigger and increasing the editor’s sense of insecurity. Furthermore, the available text material will be divided into two categories, the first comprising the testimonia pertaining to the life and work of an author, the second containing the ‘fragments’ of his various writings. By the very nature of the material which the student of a fragmentary writer has to work with — quotations by later authors, embedded in an account devised by the quoting author, which is often entirely different from the original context—, it is obvious that the problems which present themselves do not merely concern the reconstruction of the original context of the fragments and the analysis and interpretation of their contents. In the first place, a quotation has to be separated from the cover text12 in which it has been inserted. Accordingly, it should be borne in mind that (after the example set by Jacoby himself) the ancient texts which are included in FGrHist IV have not been edited in the philological sense of the word, resting on a renewed examination of the original manuscripts or papyri: as a rule, the texts will be given such as they appear in what is accepted as the best critical edition available for each individual source (with a reduced critical apparatus and on the understanding, of course, that some additional emendation may always prove necessary). Instead, the editing activity mainly consists in the delimitation of what can, in each individual case, count as a fragment: where does the quotation begin? Where does it end? What is the degree of authenticity preserved in the “quotation”? Wholly in keeping with the manner in which Jacoby chose to present the testimonies and fragments in the first three parts of FGrHist, different typographical styles will be used in the text-edition for indicating the different degrees of certainty to which portions of the fragmentary text can be traced back to the lost work. In this respect, three levels will be distinguished: where a verbatim excerpt is given, the text will be printed in expanded modus (Sperrdruck); when the citing author merely gives a paraphrase or an indirect or abridged reference, the text will be presented in normal typeface, while parts of the fragmentary text that are doubtful are given in petitdruck. We have also opted, in the presentation of the texts, for maintaining the distinction between fragments surviving with or without a title and/or book number. For the user’s convenience, however, these texts will not be separated (unlike in Jacoby). If it is possible on more or less plausible grounds (to be explained in the commentary) to attribute fragments to a given work or to a certain book, we have presented them at their putative place, but have indented the left margin in order to draw attention to the hypothetical nature of their attribution13. All in all, only the addition of an English translation of the testimonia and fragments (printed on the opposite page) will constitute a significant departure from Jacoby’s practice14. Yet, this seemed to us a sensible thing to do, and not just as an essential, sometimes even critical, part of the editor’s task of providing an interpretation of the text, but also in view of the fact that knowledge of Greek is no longer considered to be a prerequisite for beginning the study of the ancient world. In this way we hope to make the sources accessible to the non-specialist and to readers not versed in Greek who may be interested in the history of (ancient) historiography, and also to encourage the use of fragmentary texts at an early stage of academic instruction.

In order to mark the difference between the volumes published by F. Jacoby himself and the ‘Fragmente der griechischen Historiker’ continued, our numbering starts from 1000. References to FGrHist continued should be made as heretofore. Thus, the Suda-testimonium on Skylax’ work on Herakleides of Mylasa, discussed under number 1000, should be referred to as FGrHist 1000 T1.


To some, the publication of a fascicle covering the pre-hellenistic period may seem an unlikely beginning for the collection of fragments of Greek biographical writing. It has long been an accepted theory that Greek biography came into being at the beginning of the Hellenistic period, when some pupils of Aristotle started writing works with the purpose of verifying how ethical theories applied in the framework of a real, individual life. Another breeding ground appeared to be early Alexandria, where the need for a ‘catalogue raisonné’ for the newly-founded library, as well as the scientific pursuits of grammarians and philologists, stimulated studies in the field of literature on an unprecedented scale. The thesis that both centres gave a decisive impetus to the birth of biography as a literary genre was most impressively formulated by Leo in his epoch-making analysis of ancient biographical form: Die griechisch-römische Biographie nach ihrer litterarischen Form (Leipzig 1901). Leo availed himself of the then popular tool of ‘Formgeschichte’ for identifying, within the ancient biographical tradition, two separate basic forms of writing the life of an individual — the ‘Suetonian’, scholarly-systematic and the ‘Plutarchean’, historical-chronological type. He traced these types back to their presumed peculiar origins in the ‘Alexandrian’ and ‘peripatetic’ schools respectively. Criticism of this view was prompted, among other things, by the discovery of a substantial fragment of the life of Euripides by Satyrus (POxy 1176), which unambiguously showed that Leo’s formal approach had been forcing a straitjacket on the evidence. The failure of ‘Formgeschichte’, bringing increasing recognition that it may well be beyond our grasp to historically pinpoint the Hellenistic origins of Greek biography, naturally led scholars to apply a more open, less ‘formal’ approach and to study, on a more systematic and intense scale than Leo and other previous scholars had done, the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. as a potentially important formative period. Especially in the second half of this century, several important contributions point to a variety of biographically interesting focal points in early epic, lyric, historical, as well as philosophical and rhetorical literature15. This tendency in modern research received Momigliano’s full scholarly support and was actually reinforced in his now standard survey of The Development of Greek Biography16. Rivalling D.S. Stuart’s “half-hearted attempt to seek the origins of Greek biography in the fifth century B.C.”, Momigliano, in the wake of H. Homeyer’s important paper Zu den Anfängen der griechischen Biographie (1962), set himself the task of exploring the origins of biography in early classical literature more systematically than ever before. His discussion, tentative though it is, amounts to a zealous plea in favour of the view that “the first Greek biographies and autobiographies seem to belong to the period between 500 and 480 B.C. and to be contemporary with the first works on genealogy and periegesis17.”

It is undoubtedly due more to the current shift of interest in biographical scholarship than out of a strong personal conviction prompted by the probative force of the relevant fragmentary evidence, that we decided to open the present collection of biographical fragments with a first fascicle on the evidence dating from the fifth and fourth centuries. In this respect it should, first and foremost, be emphasized that (as anyone familiar with the literature on the subject knows) most of the claims about the early fifth and fourth-century beginnings of Greek biography are based, to an alarmingly large degree, on the presence of biographical narratives or elements of biographical interest incorporated in other genres as, for instance, epic poetry or the works of historians like Herodotus, Thucydides and Xenophon. Since the basic principle adopted in the present collection stipulates that the expression of biographical interest in various forms of non-biographical literature must be kept separate from the writing of biography proper, such passages—illuminating as they may be to all those engaged in tracing the history of how biography came into being as a genre of its own — do not qualify for inclusion here among the biographical fragments. To trace biography’s varied pedigree in all sorts of literary genres goes far beyond the task of the collector of the biographical fragments: his more modest aim is to make available the extant fragmentary evidence of supposedly separate biographical works, which may be regarded as early, perhaps only ‘embryonic’ specimens of biographical writing.

The distinction between ‘biographical’ and ‘non-biographical’ works may be clear to modern theory. Its practical application to the ancient evidence, however, proved to be delicate, especially in the initial stages of the development of the genre. The very position of early biographical works midway between several literary genres precludes the adoption of neat criteria, both as to contents and form, by which one could readily recognize the works under discussion as specimens of biographical writing. Often, moreover, eligible work-titles or scraps of evidence proved too poorly attested (and without any context) to support any positive conclusions on their biographical nature or purpose. This state of affairs in the study of early Greek biography helps to explain why ‘evidence’ which appears to be highly significant in the eyes of one scholar, may, according to another, hardly bear any meaningful relationship to the subject18. It goes without saying that under these circumstances the selection of the authors and fragments to be included in the present volume proved to be particularly difficult. Given the minefield that is early Greek biography — virtually every piece of evidence is contested — it was impossible for us to aim at anything even remotely complete in the presentation of the relevant evidence, and hence, there are inevitably omissions and inclusions which will annoy or surprise some readers. In Jacoby’s own words: “wie man’s macht, macht man’s falsch.”19

As modern criticism remains strongly divided as to how to evaluate the contribution of fifth and fourth century B.C. Greek literature and culture in the formation of Greek biographical writing, differences of opinion were also naturally reflected within the team preparing the continuation of FGrHist IV. In the absence of any ‘formal’ criteria (such as, for instance, the word βίος as part of a title) or a concept of generic propriety which, at the earliest, arose at the beginning of the Hellenistic Period, we were mainly led by pragmatic considerations. The material presented in this fascicle are the fragmentary remains of works which scholars have been labelling—whether adamantly or hesitatingly, and not necessarily unanimously—as ‘biographical’ treatises or, at least, as compositions deserving our attention as early intimations of the later, formally constituted genre. Thus we hope, in view of the themes that became prominent in later biographical writing, to have offered at least a fair and representative sample of the remains of works on politicians, on the ‘Seven Wise Men’ and on philosophers. Following our basic principles it was decided that works with generic titles such as Περὶ ποιητῶν, Περὶ μουσικῶν and Περὶ τῶν (τριῶν) τραγῳδοποιῶν belong in globo to the part on Literary History, but require a cross-reference duly marked in IVA. All works dealing with Homer, including those entitled Περὶ Ὁμήρου , will also be edited together as part of FGrHist IVB. In the presentation of the fragments it seemed sensible to try to combine the basic chronological order, running from the early fifth (FGrHist 1000: Skylax of Karyanda) to the late fourth centuries B.C. (FGrHist 1013: Philiskos of Miletos), as far as possible with a topical arrangement, keeping together the authors that deal with the Seven Wise Men (FGrHist 1005-1007) and the ‘biographers’ of Plato (FGrHist 1008-1011).

Despite the many claims that authors of the ‘classical’ period already engaged in some kind of biographical writing, and that some of them might even be credited with having invented the genre, we have not come across a single unambiguous piece of evidence attesting the existence of biographical writing as such in the pre-Alexandrian era. As is apparent also from our commentaries, the searching analysis of even the most promising fragments has been, more often than not, a sobering experience. Though we have been looking for possible clues to bridge the gap between the ‘antecedents’ or early intimations of biography and its formal constitution20, the evidence presented in this fascicle can hardly be considered to provide the missing link(s). But ultimately it must be left to the historian of ancient biography to judge how the potential fragmentary evidence for full biographical writing published here can possibly relate to the much larger body of biographical evidence incorporated in other genres.

The following are the fascicles scheduled to appear as part of FGrHist IVA: Biography:

  • IVA 2 Hellenistic Period (IIIrd Century B.C.)
  • IVA 3 Hellenistic Period (Hermippos the Callimachean, of Smyrna)
  • IVA 4 Hellenistic Period (Late IIIrd - Early IInd Century B.C.)
  • IVA 5 Hellenistic Period (IInd Century B.C.)
  • IVA 6 Hellenistic Period (Late IInd - First Century B.C.)
  • IVA 7 Period of the Roman Empire and undatable fragments
  • IVA 8 Adespota

FGrHist IV.A.3: Preface

Bollansée, Jan

You only get one chance to make a first impression. The figure which Hermippos of Smyrna (H.), the third-century B.C. Alexandrian writer best known for his biographical activity, cut with nineteenth-century (predominantly German) scholarship was a particularly poor one. This much can be gathered from the many bad names which the austere ‘Altertumswissenschaftler’ of yore called him: a sensation-lover with a vicious tongue, a scandalmonger, a systematical forger even. By and large, this image has stuck with H. over the past 150 years. In this respect, it has often been overlooked that we only know his writings indirectly, through a handful of papyri and a fair (though by no means large) amount of quotations by later authors. Considering, moreover, that scholars of the last century persistently judged lesser-known writers from antiquity by their own lofty standards and the traditional canon of ‘classical’ names of antiquity — a comparison which inevitably worked out in the latter’s favour —, one may well wonder whether H.’s present-day reputation does not rest (in part) on preconceived notions firmly entrenched in modern ideas about what an ancient writer active in a given field of literature, should have written.

That the accepted image of the biographer H. requires some fine-tuning was merely intimated in Wehrli’s conclusion to his 1974 edition of H.’s fragments (the first Supplement to the Schule des Aristoteles). What is more, both Wehrli’s edition and commentary prove, on closer examination, to be quite unsatisfactory, being marred by several deficiencies. Consequently, when looking for a suitable subject for my doctoral dissertation, Professor G. Schepens (who in 1991 engaged me as a collaborator on the FGrHist continuation-project he was starting up with Professor G.A. Lehmann) suggested I give the fragments of H. a fresh treatment. It seemed a good idea to start the work on the fragmentary remains of the ancient Greek biographers with a new investigation into the representative of the genre who is most conspicuously present in later tradition. Indeed, the eighty-odd remaining fragments (F) of H.’s biographical treatises—by far the greatest number for an ancient biographer—presented themselves as promising material in their own right as well as with regard to the works of other, scarcely known biographical writers, for the study of which they might provide valuable clues.

I have decided to publish the results of my 1996 doctoral dissertation, “The Biographical Fragments of Hermippos the Callimachean. Critical Edition, Translation and Commentary”, in two separate, yet closely related tomes. In a monograph entitled “Hermippos of Smyrna and his Biographical Writings. A Reappraisal”, which is scheduled to appear in the Leuven series Studia Hellenistica simultaneously with the present volume, I give an account of the main conclusions reached in my dissertation, interlaced with (partial) commentaries on selected F which I have deemed particularly noteworthy for their exemplary nature. Here, in fascicle 3 of FGrHist IV A, the critical edition and translation of, and a reduced version of the individual commentaries on the biographical F can be found, augmented with the handful of F deriving from H.’s other historical works (on which more below). Consequently, it will come as no surprise that cross-references between the two books abound. In this regard, one is able to consult the monograph without necessarily having FGrHist IV A 3 on his lap as well, but the opposite is not the case; in order to avoid excessive repetition, a detailed introduction and in-depth discussions of H.’s works and method are only available in the Studia Hellenistica volume.

Holding the present fascicle in his hands, the interested reader will no doubt have noticed already that the commentary has grown beyond expectation. If Kallimachos (ap. Athen. 3, 72a = F 465 Pfeiffer I) was right and a big book really is a big evil, I have failed miserably. On the other hand, the sheer amount of data to be considered for assessing H. and his writings in their proper literary and historical context and not, a priori, as some malignant excrescences of ‘classical’ literature or degenerate predecessors of today’s counterparts, goes some way toward justifying the detailed nature of the commentary presented here. Combined with my youthful enthusiasm for the subject matter (when looked at against their fascinating background, the often wonderful and seemingly gratuitous stories related by H. turn out to be a veritable treasure-trove for anyone with more than a passing interest in ancient Greek culture), this has made the book what it is now.

As a matter of course, the principles of selection, arrangement and edition of the F assembled here are the same as those governing FGrHist in general; they have been restated in the introduction to FGrHist IV A 1. Hence, as a rule, only passages where H. is explicitly referred to have been included in this edition. The considerable body of biographical F — eighty-five in sum (F 1-55, 60-89), comprising eighty-six nominatim citations and three passages where either author or biographical purport are doubtful (F 55; 88-89) — constitutes the core of the present collection. These F deal primarily with famous Greek lawgivers (F 1-8), the Seven Sages (F 9-20), the great names of Greek philosophy (F 21-40; 60-83) and the rhetoricians of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. (F 41-54; 85-86); in addition, there are isolated F on the iambic poet Hipponax (F 55), Euripides (F 84), Thukydides (F 87), and the Erythraean Sibylla (F 88), and finally we have a ‘Sammelzitat’ from Dionysios of Halikarnassos regarding the Hellenistic biographers of Demosthenes and Aristotle (F 89). As explained more fully in the introduction to the Studia Hellenistica-volume, I have ventured to expand this secure basis by incorporating some anonymous passages in this edition, but only when these inclusions could be substantiated by a parallel with a nominatim reference to H. and when the conjectural attribution to the Smyrnaean biographer was further supported by the highly specific and/or obscure nature of the piece of information in question. This method proved especially fruitful in dealing with ancient tradition about the great Athenian rhetoricians of the fourth century B.C. Having said that, however, it may be emphasized that these findings remain hypothetical nonetheless, and at the most reveal something about the ubiquitousness of ‘Hermippean’ material in that particular branch of ancient biographical tradition; they do not necessarily mean that H.’s works were consulted directly by all of the quoting authors concerned, or even that those writers were still aware of H.’s role in the transmission of certain data.

In keeping with the basic idea, underlying FGrHist as a whole, that all F of a given author should as much as possible be edited together in one place, this biographical material has been supplemented with seven more F which can, to varying degrees of certainty, be assigned to other ‘historical’ works composed by H. — ‘historical’ being used here in its broad sense (‘investigative’), as defined already by Jacoby. Thus, we have three F deriving from a treatise On Magoi (F 56-58), one from a Collection of Aphorisms from Homer’s Works (F 59), and three of unknown provenance which contain hints of geographical, para-doxographical and other antiquarian interests (F 90-92). For obvious reasons, the 5 F on (the establishment of) stars and constellations which come from H.’s Phainomena, an astronomical composition which can be characterized as a didactic poem (cf. T 19), fall outside the scope of FGrHist; an edition with commentary is available in Wehrli’s H.-‘Heft’ (F 98-102).

As for the English translations of Greek and Latin passages contained in this book, I assume all responsibility for the majority of them. At the same time, echoes from previous efforts (published in the ‘Loeb’ or ‘Penguin Classics’ series, or elsewhere) are bound to resound through mine. Literal borrowings, though, I have limited to those cases where I deemed it impossible, on my part, to improve upon an already existing translation. This holds true especially for lines of poetry. Thus, I have systematically copied the English versions of the numerous epigrams of Diogenes Laertios included in the edition of H.’s fragments, from the Loeb-translation by R.D. Hicks (even though they may strike the modern reader as more than a trifle quaint). In a number of isolated instances more, I have drawn on the translation skills of other scholars; in those cases I have duly acknowledged my debt in loco.

It is with great pleasure that I am finally able to express my gratitude to the people who have contributed to the realization of this book. First and foremost, I should like to thank Professor G. Schepens (K.U. Leuven), who has been my promotor for the past ten years and whose critical acumen and trusting guidance have always been highly appreciated. I am also much obliged to the members of the jury who passed their mild judgement on my dissertation and offered a lot of useful comments: Professor G.W. Most, Professor C. Steel, Dr. habil. J. Engels, Professor W. Clarysse and Professor A. Wouters (chairman). I further acknowledge the valuable support of the Research Council of the K.U. Leuven: by awarding me a grant as a postdoctoral collaborator, it has contributed considerably to the swift publication of both of my ‘Hermippos’-books. For the linguistic revising of my manuscript, I owe warm thanks to Mrs. Maria Desmond-Kelly. At short notice, she has done a magnificent job, patiently reading through hundreds and hundreds of pages of broken English and judiciously suggesting countless corrections; this book is all the more readable for it. Last, but by no means least, I am eternally grateful to my close friends and relatives for their moral support, and to my lovely wife and children for weathering my mood swings and lifting my spirits at all times.

FGrHist IV.A.7: Preface

Jan Radicke

When Jacoby died in 1959, his admirable Fragmente der Griechischen Histonker were left behind unfinished. Although Jacoby had published the enormous number of 856 authors, he nonetheless quite resignedly regarded his work as a mere “torso”21, and had indeed only completed half of the categories he had outlined in the ambitious preface to his first volume in 192322. Among the parts not finished were the Antiquarische Geschichte und Biographie, which Jacoby had planned to be the fourth main part of his work. In 1991 the completion of the missing part IV was taken in hand by A. Henrichs, G.A. Lehmann and G. Schepens, who, guided by Jacoby’s Nachlaß, drew up a table of its content and provided a provisional list of authors23. The first section of this part (IV A) is to contain the biographers, who will be published in several independent fascicles. The fascicles IV A 1-6 will cover the biographers of the pre-Hellenistic and the Hellenistic period, the present volume (IV A 7), which is the last but one, contains the fragments of all biographers of Imperial times together with those of the undated authors.

Although its main purpose is to supplement Jacoby’s work, it is also intended to provide a collection of biographical authors which can be read in its own right. Both the form and content of this collection have therefore been shaped with this dual purpose in mind. Following Jacoby’s example, the dated authors are given in roughly chronological order, although in some cases it seemed preferable to form small groups of similar authors. Apart from the biographers not published by Jacoby himself, the volume contains the biographical works of those authors already edited by him in another category. In the case of the less familiar authors I have also repeated the testimonies and, occasionally, other historical fragments as well, taking the opportunity to make some minor additions. As the only exception to this rule, Nicolaus of Damascus has been omitted, whose biographies would merit a separate study. In the case of the historians of the 4th century a.d ., whose works might be regarded as biographies, I have only given the references, since Jacoby included them amongst the Spezialgeschichten. As for the Greek text I have made no collations myself, but have used instead what I regarded as the best edition of an author, although my text diverges from the available editions in some cases. The reader will find the editions and the differences in the respective lists. In contrast to Jacoby's practice a translation has been added to facilitate access to the texts.

For the purpose of the collection it seemed best to use a rather wide and simple definition of biography. It is therefore taken to include all works which are concerned primarily with the life of one or, in the case of collections, of several people. Although one could also opt for a narrower definition of biography in the sense of Plutarch’s Lives, the variety of literary works which are to be found in the biographical field would consequently escape notice. If biography is to be restricted to some specific, idealised type, a lot of texts would be excluded which with some justification might be called biographical. A brief survey of the extant “biographies” might illustrate the point. Even if we only apply the most formal criteria, their number is considerably reduced. If it should be regarded as essential that the whole life of a person is treated, Philostratus’ and Eunapius’ Lives of Sophists would drop out, if speeches are excluded, Marinus’ Life of Proclus, for instance, would not pass the test. Going even further, one might ask whether Diogenes’ Lives of Philosophers should not rather be called a history of philosophy. In fact, Porphyry’s Life of Pythagoras formed part of such a work. In the case of the fragmentary evidence, critical distinctions become even more difficult, since a title does not always reveal very much about the nature of a work. Thus Jerome, for example, calls Tacitus’ historical works Vitae Caesarum 24, and were it not for our knowledge of them, we would perhaps think of a collection of biographies. For these reasons it seemed to be expedient to offer more, rather than less, material and to allow as great a scope as possible to the genre so that the reader is then free to impose his own definition upon it.

The content of the collection is various indeed. Regarding the subjects, there are biographies of famous men of letters, orators, philosophers and physicians, and finally some of politicians as well. As to the authors, the main bulk of biographies was written, as should have been expected, by antiquarians and scholars. Comprehensive collections rather than single biographies are predominant in this field. The character of such works is necessarily compilatory, their purpose mainly antiquarian, and in some cases also paradoxographical. The influence of this scholarly tradition on our perception of Antiquity can hardly be overestimated. In fact, much of our biographical knowledge depends on what might be called the last offspring of it: the dictionary of the Suda/Hesychius. Although the information it provides is often poor, it offers an insight into the cultural and literary life in the Greek East to a degree which is lacking for the Latin West.

Besides the antiquarian there is also a strong philosophical tradition of biography, which deals exclusively with the lives of philosophers. Although it does not seem to have been bound to any school specifically, the lives written by Neo-Platonic philosophers are most prominent, maybe because several examples are still extant. The purpose of this type of biography is mainly philosophical. The depicted philosopher is thought to embody his doctrine or in general the philosophical way of life. These works often have a strong hagiographic tendency, as can be seen especially in the case of Pythagoras and Apollonius, who are depicted as pagan saints. It is also their lives that biography comes closest to the novel.

A third strand of biographical activity may be thought to manifest itself by the numerous encomiastic speeches on the emperor, which I have included in an appendix. They are, as it were, biography put to practical use: On a given occasion a sophist would address the emperor. However, they are only the tip of an iceberg. The theoretical works we have on panegyrics and encomia and our other evidence suggest that, although nearly no trace of them survives, encomia and biographies were quite common currency in antiquity.

Finally, a word on the undated authors. It is often hard to tell if they are genuine authors at all, and, in those cases where they are, whether their remarks are taken from a biographical work. Although the cases in which the invention of authorities can be proven without doubt are late (Ps.-Plutarch De fluviis, Ptolemy Chennus, Historia Augusta), the phenomenon seems to be as old as biographical literature. In fact, what is left of authors like Aristoxenus and Hermippus often does not inspire the reader with too much confidence into their historical accuracy. Aristoxenus, for instance, transfers the famous story of the Pythagoreans Phintias and Damon from Dionysius I to his contemporary Dionysius II, quoting the latter as an authority25. A logical mistake, however, proves that this is mere invention, and, as such, it highlights the extent to which some biographers are prepared to combine fact with fiction. Therefore, it seems to me that one should be careful not to believe in all witnesses who are adduced only once and without specific quotation in the Hellenistic biographical tradition. In addition, the compilatory character of our late sources may have led to further misunderstandings and mistakes. For example, a figure of a philosophical dialogue can easily become an author, or a remark on some person might be mistaken for the title of a biography. Thus, I would advise scepticism in the following cases at least: Archetimus of Syracuse (1098); Diodorus of Ephesus (1102); Diodorus of Eretria (1103); Eubulides the Pythagorean (1106); Hipparchus (1109); Minyes (1111); Nicander of Alexandria (1112); Theoxenus (1115); Xenophon of Athens (1118).

Finally, I wish to thank the board of general editors Prof. A. Henrichs, Prof. G.A. Lehmann, Prof. G. Schepens and my colleagues Dr. J. Bollansée and Dr. J. Engels, who drew up a list of authors, made available Jacoby’s Nachlaß and assigned the part on the biographers of the Imperial times to me. Prof. G.A. Lehmann not only raised 3 years’ funding by the DFG, but also followed the progress of the book with his persistent interest and advice during the long period in which I was working on it. It was not least the scholarly and friendly atmosphere of the Departments of History and Classics at Göttingen which made the work prosper. Prof. Bruno Bleckmann, Dr. Gerrit Kloss and Mehran Nickbakht, in particular, read the manuscript and stimulated thought by their criticism. In accordance with the general outlines of the project the book had to be written in English. This is is not my native tongue, which, I admit, I would much prefer to have used. Thanks to the help from Timothy Saunders at the University of Bristol and Guy Laycock, who read the manuscript at various stages, many of the initial inaccuracies and infelicities of expression have now been gratefully removed. For those that remain I can do no better than re-echo the words of Jacoby: “the blame for whatever offends an English ear may be put at my door.”26

Further proof-reading was done by Annette Greve, Lisa Meyer, my father Reinhart Radicke, and Sebastian Zeidler. Last, but not least I would like to thank Prof. R. Kassel. His reading of the manuscript saved me from more than one mistake and pointed the way to the solution of many problems. The book owes more to his generous advice and instruction throughout the years than I can say.

Göttingen, July 1998


2 As the achievement of a single scholar, the FGrHist, even as a torso, ranks as one of the greatest realizations, if not the greatest outright, in the domain of Classical Philology in the 20th century. See E. Mensching, Texte zur Berliner Philologie-Geschichte, VI. Felix Jacoby (1876-1959) und Berliner Institutionen 1934-1939, in Nugae zur Philologie-Geschichte II, Berlin 1989, p. 5-59.

3 Schlußbetrachtung, in H. Verdin - G. Schepens - E. de Keyser (ed.), Purposes of History. Studies in Greek Historiography from the 4th to the Second Centuries B.C. (Studia Hellenistica 30), Leuven 1990, p. 370-371.

4 See F. Jacoby, Vorrede to FGrHist I (Berlin 1923), p. V.

5 See H. Bloch, Problems in Editing Fragments of Greek Historians, in W. Schmid (ed.), Die Interpretation in der Altertumswissenschaft, Bonn 1971, p. 112-113.

6 The first fascicle, out of a projected total of eight, has appeared: Jacoby, FGrHist IIIC, Fascicle 1: Commentary on Nos. 608a-608, Leiden - New York - Köln 1994.

7 Cf. O. Murray, Herodotus and Hellenistic Culture, in CQ 22 (1972), p. 212-213.

8 This seems to bear out the observation made by S.C. Humphreys , Fragments, Fethishes, and Philosophies: Towards a History of Greek Historiography after Thucydides, in G.W. Most (ed.), Collecting Fragments. Fragmente sammeln, Göttingen 1996, p. 207-224, esp. p. 208, that Jacoby, having started his collection of fragments from a sharply formulated question about the origins of Greek historiography, “does not seem to have had any equally clear ideas about later developments.”

9 in: G.W. Most (ed.), Collecting Fragments. Fragmente sammeln, Göttingen 1996, p. 144-172.

10 Most notorious is the case of Hellanikos of Lesbos, basically dealt with in FGrHist 4, but reappearing in 323a; 601a; 608a; 645a; 687a.

11 “Antiquarians: A Problematic Category” (Leuven, March 18, 1997).

12 On the notion ‘cover text’, see Jacoby’s FGrHist: Problems, Methods, Prospects (cf. n. 8), p. 166-167.

13 This, in fact, is the method adopted by F. Wehrli , Die Schule des Aristoteles.

14 Actually, the idea that the addition of a translation could be a useful supplement to many a user does seem to have crossed Jacoby’s mind as well: see [Vorwort] FGrHist IIIb, Kommentar Zu Nr. 297-607, Leiden 1955.

15 For an interesting survey of recent work, see I. Gallo , Nascita e sviluppo della biografia greca: aspetti e problemi, in I. Gallo - L. Nicastri (ed.), Biografia e autobiogrqfia degli antichi e dei moderni, Napoli 1995, 7-22

16 Momigliano’s discussion of fifth and fourth century B.C biographies and autobiographies, in chapters II and III respectively, takes up even more pages (p. 23-64) than his treatment of the subsequent period From Aristotle to the Romans (p. 65-100).

17 p. 101.

18 Skylax’ work on Herakleides of Mylasa is a case in point: according to Momigliano (and others) it may well constitute the beginning of proper biographical writing; H. Homeyer (Zu den Anfängen der griechischen Biographie, in Philologus 106, 1962, p. 75-85), however, does not even take it into account as a relevant piece of evidence for the history of biography.

19 Vorrede, in FGrHist IIA, Berlin 1926, III.

20 As Homeyer (cf. note 17) appropriately remarked, when pointing out the generic ‘gap’ that separates these ‘early expressions of biographical interest’ and the writing of biography proper in the Hellenistic Period: “Die Lücke zwischen den Anfängen der biographischen Darstellung und dem biographischen Schrifttum des ausgehenden 4. Jahrhunderts wird sich kaum je befriedigend schließcn lassen.” (p. 85). Compare J. Geiger’s perceptive comments: “While willingly acknowledging the contributions of Homeyer and Momigliano towards understanding the rise of the biographcial interest in general and the lives of statesmen and generals in particular, I must insist that these explorations did little towards answering the question when and how did it happen that entire works came to be devoted to ‘the account of the life of a man ... from birth to death’ instead of forming minor themes, digressions or incidental descriptions in recognized literary forms such as History.” (Cornelius Nepos and Ancient Political Biography, Stuttgart 1985, p. 15).

21 Vol. III C p. 7*: “es schmerzt mich, dass meine Arbeit (...) an den “Fragmenten” selbst nur der Historiker im engeren sinne des wortes ein torso bleiben muss.”

22 Vol. I A p. VII.

23 On the project cf. G. Schepens , Jacoby’s FGrHist: Problems, Methods, Prospects, in Collecting Fragments, ed. G.W. Most , Göttingen 1997, p. 144-172; and his introduction to vol. IV A 1.

24 Hier . Comm. in Zachariam 3,14 p. 1522 Migne : Cornelius quoque Tacitus, qui post Augustum usque ad mortem Domitiani vitas Caesarum triginta voluminibus exaravit.

25 Aristoxenus F 31 Wehrli II.

26 Cf. Jacoby’s preface to the text of vol. III b (Supplement)