Hellenic historiography

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Hellenic historiography (or Greek historiography) involves efforts made by Greeks to track and record historical events. By the 5th century BC, it became an integral part of ancient Greek literature and held a prestigious place in later Roman historiography and Byzantine literature.


The historical period of ancient Greece is exclusive in world history as the first period attested directly in proper historiography, while earlier ancient history or proto-history is known by much more circumstantial evidence, such as annals, chronicles, king lists, and pragmatic epigraphy.

Herodotus is widely known as the "father of history," his Histories being eponymous of the entire field. Written between the 450s and 420s BC, the scope of Herodotus' work reaches about a century in the past, discussing 6th century BC historical figures such as Darius I of Persia, Cambyses II, and Psamtik III and alludes to some 8th century BC ones such as Candaules.

Herodotus was succeeded by authors such as Thucydides, Xenophon, Demosthenes, Plato, and Aristotle. Most of these authors were either Athenians or pro-Athenians, which explains why far more is known about the history and politics of Athens than of most other contemporary cities. Their scope is further limited by a focus on political, military and diplomatic history, generally ignoring economic and social history.[1] However, while works approaching modern ethnography arose primarily amongst the Romans, some Greeks did include ancillary material describing the customs and rituals of different peoples, Herodotus himself being a prime example in his descriptions of the Egyptians, Scythians, and others.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Grant, Michael (1995). Greek and Roman Historians: Information and Misinformation. London and New York: Routledge. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-415-11770-8.

Further reading[edit]

  • Barcelo, P. (1994). "The Perception of Carthage in Classical Greek Historiography". Acta Classica. 37: 1–14.
  • Grethlein, Jonas (2010). The Greeks and their Past: Poetry, Oratory and History in the Fifth Century BCE. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Hornblower, Simon, ed. (1994). Greek Historiography. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Hornblower, Simon (2004). Thucydides and Pindar: Historical Narrative and the World of Epinikian Poetry. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Luce, T. J. (1997). The Greek Historians. London and New York: Routledge.
  • Marincola, John (2001). "Greek Historians". Greece & Rome, New Surveys in the Classics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 31.
  • Parmeggiani, Giovanni, ed. (2014). Between Thucydides and Polybius: The Golden Age of Greek Historiography. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  • Pitcher, Luke (2009). Writing Ancient History: An Introduction to Classical Historiography. London and New York: I. B. Tauris.
  • Sacks, Kenneth S. (1990). Diodorus Siculus and the First Century. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Sacks, Kenneth S. (1981). Polybius on the Writing of History. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Shrimpton, Gordon S. (1997). History and Memory in Ancient Greece. Montreal and Buffalo, NY: McGill-Queen's University Press.
  • Skinner, Joseph E. (2012). The Invention of Greek Ethnography: From Homer to Herodotus. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Woodman, A. J. (1988). Rhetoric in Classical Historiography: Four Studies. London: Routledge.