chapter  2
HISTORY
Pages 59

In the modern world, archaeologists have uncovered much of the early history of Greek civilization, as we have seen in relation to the Minoans and Mycenaeans. However, even after the invention of writing, the Greeks do not seem to have written their own history until prompted by the spirit of enquiry (historia in Greek is learning by enquiry) associated with the Ionian philosophers who challenged the mythical view of the world represented in the poems of Homer and Hesiod. It can surely be no accident that the earliest writer of Histories known to us, Hecataeus (c. 500), who was also a geographer, came from Miletus, the Ionian home of more than one early philosopher. Only a few fragments of Hecataeus survive including a notable first sentence: ‘I write these things as they seem to me to be true; for the stories of the Greeks are many and ridiculous in my opinion.’ Other prose writers called logographers compiled accounts of local traditions, genealogies and more general matters. Local histories continued to be written in the fifth and fourth centuries and they are thought to be the basis of the history contained in The Athenian Constitution traditionally attributed to Aristotle referred to later in this chapter. The main literary sources referred to and cited in this chapter for the Classical period are Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon, and Diodorus Siculus, and for the Hellenistic period, Arrian and Plutarch and Polybius.