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HISTORIOGRAPHY: Herodotus, Alexander, and Rome

Author(s): G. W. BOWERSOCK
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Source: The American Scholar, Vol. 58, No. 3 (Summer 1989), pp. 407-414
Published by: The Phi Beta Kappa Society
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HISTORIOGRAPHY

Herodotus,Alexander,and Rome

G. W. BOWERSOCK

HerodotusofHalicarnassus,universallyac- of the mostdiverse kind about peoples and


knowledgedas the FatherofHistoryin west- places insideand outsidethe Hellenic world,
erncivilization,is an authorfareasierto read and it is herethatthe innumerabile s fabulae,
than to talk about. In this respect,as in so "the innumerabletales" to whichCicero (de
manyothers,he is the antithesisof Thucyd- Leg. 1.1.5) made reference,occur.The story-
ides,whomitis fareasierto talkaboutthanto tellingaspectofHerodotushas alwaysbeen a
read. The artfully simplestyleand the naive problemand somehowmade thosewho liked
air of wonder that characterizeHerodotus' reading Herodotusfeel slightlyguilty.The
presentation ofhis historicalenquiriesexude work was simply not serious or weighty
thecharmoffairytales and, in the same way, enoughand seemed to touchon mattersun-
ofa seriousthinker, suchas whichsex
defyauthoritative analysis.To the charmof worthy
his tales is added fromtimeto timea poetic stands up and which sits down while urinat-
thatis all the more ing. Herodotusfoundno groundsforexclud-
intensity overwhelming
because it takesthe readerunawares.Herod- ing information as trivial,untruthful, or even
otuspasses fromgold-digging antsto the de- absurd.
To Thucydides,who thoughtso hardthatat
structive envyofthegodswithouta falsenote.
Historianshavetraditionally studiedHerod- times he could scarcelyexpresshimself,the
otus for his detailed account of the great Herodotean mannerwas morethanunsympa-
confrontation between the Persian invaders thetic, and to a greateror lesserextentwe are
all heirs of Thucydides in viewingwithsus-
and the Greeksin the earlyfifth centuryb.c. is as at homewith
For the momentouscircumstancesof Mara- picion a work of history that
thonand SalamisHerodotuswas definitive in stories (to muthôdes, "the mythic")as it is
with historical facts.The problem is inherent
antiquityand remainsso today.His compa- in Cicero's famousobservationin the de
triotof many centurieslater, Dionysius of Leg-
ibus in which he labels Herodotus for the first
Halicarnassus,praised Herodotusforchoos-
time as the Father of History(pater historiae)
ing as his theme a great triumphof the but
Greeks,and he faultedThucydidesfordevot- says in the same breaththat,like Theo-
inghis energiestotheinternecine disastersof pompus,he wroteinnumerabletales. Herod-
the PeloponnesianWar. But a centuryafter otuswas, as Cicero says explicitlyelsewhere
Div. 11.116),no more truthful than the
Dionysius,Plutarchcould just as easily take (de Ennius. it is no small achieve-
theoppositeposition,condemningHerodotus poet Although
forbeingtoo sympathetic to the Persiansand ment for a writer to have an enduring reputa-
tion throughout the ages both as the Father of
for disclosing Persian sympathiesamong
someoftheGreeks.Butrathermorethanhalf History and as a liar,itmay be that this double
and
of Herodotus'workis devotedto informationjudgment tells us more about Cicero
those who perpetuatehis opinions than it
О G. W. BOWERSOCK,professor ofancienthis- does about Herodotus.Herodotusremainsas
attheInstitute forAdvanced Study, Princeton,elusiveand as wonderful as he has everbeen.
tory
is the authorof,amongotherbooks,Julianthe No one, noteven Cicero,could have doubted
Apostate,RomanArabia,and theforthcoming Hel- his genius,butitis hardtograsp.Herodotusis
lenismin Late Antiquity. a kindofMozartofhistoriography in compar-

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ison withthe BeethovenofThucydides.Par- since he diligentlycollectedthemall forthe


adoxically,thedark,brooding,stormy souls of greaterand lesser historiansof Greek antiq-
ourgreatestcreativeartistsare ultimatelyeas- uity,hereas elsewherehe seemstohavebeen
ier of access thanthosethatradiatea perfect less carefulin reflecting on the textshe col-
and childlike naivete. Herodotus' History lectedthanin simplycollectingthem.It was
is The Magic Flute, Thucydides'Historyis Jacoby 's viewthatHerodotusbecamethespe-
Fidelio. cial and priviledgedproperty oftherhetorical
In a seminalarticleof 1958, conveniently schoolsand thatsuchfavoras he enjoyedwas
republished in Studies in Historiography almostentirelyin thatbenightedmilieu.Ja-
(1966), Arnaldo Momiglianoexamined the cobywas therefore movedto writethatall the
ofHerodotus in the of post-Hellenistic use and imitationof Herod-
place history historiog-
otus was insignificant, ohne grosse Bedeut-
raphy.The articlebeginswitha quotationof
Cicero's notoriousopinionand thengoes on ung.
to generalizefromit. In Momigliano'sview, Manifestly the view of Herodotusas a rhe-
"No otherwriterwas so severelycriticizedas toricalvehicle underliesMomigliano'sassess-
Herodotus.His bad reputationin the ancient ment. What is new in Momigliano'saccountis
worldis somethingexceptionalthatrequires his emphasis on Herodotean sightseeingand
oral traditionas providingthe crucialexpla-
explanation."Somewhatlater in the article, nation of the Herodotean enthusiasmthat
Plutarch'streatisede HerodotiMalignitateis
surgedin thesixteenth century.On thatpoint
broughtinto play and summarized,and the he is and undoubtedlyright.
titlesofone ortwolostgems,suchas Valerius But characteristically
Herodotuswas no Busbecq or Ibn Batuta,
Pollio's On Herodotus*Theftsor Harpocra-
remarkableas such travelerswere, since he
tion's On Herodotus' Lies, are adduced for undertookto
compose a structuredhistory.
good measure.For his own part,Momigliano His work,thoughbased in parton travel,is
acknowledgedthatHerodotushad produced nota travelogue.
what he called "a veryrespectablehistory" It has
always seemed strangeto me that
mainlyon the basis of sightseeingand oral Momiglianowas so ready to believe that
tradition,but such meager praise as Mo- Herodotus' reputationwas all that bad in
miglianocan findin the ancient world for antiquity, but I thinkone can understandhis
Herodotus'Historyis, in his analysis,largely readinessto takeovera positionanalogousto
owingto thestyleofthework."Fromthefirst Jacoby'swhen one considersthe polemic of
centuryB.C. to the late second centuryA.D.," the last decade that Momigliano directed
wroteMomigliano,"Herodotuswas in special againstHaydenWhite'sbook on metahistory.
favoras a modelofstyle.Archaismoperatedin Whatso particularly exercisedMomiglianoin
his favor."For Momigliano,it was not until White'stheorieswas the notionthathistory
the sixteenthcentury,when historianstrav- ultimately could be no morethana rhetorical
eled in foreigncountries,questioned local construct.When one takes into accountthe
people, and collected oral traditionsthat historianand the contextin which he was
Herodotuswas appreciatedas a historian.. He writing, thecategoriesofhistoricalexposition
even includesthediscoveryofAmericain the emerge,in Hayden White'sview, as essen-
sixteenth-century réévaluationof Herodotus tiallyrhetorical.For Momiglianothis was a
because some of his more incredibletales whollyunacceptablerepudiationofthehisto-
provedto be tame stuffby comparisonwith rian'smissionto establishfactsand to publish
the reports of peoples and customs that onlywhatis true.
reachedEurope fromthe New World. In the traditionalappreciationsof Herod-
Momigliano'spresuppositionthatHerodo- otus,Hayden White'stheoriescome danger-
tus' reputationin antiquitywas generallybad ously close to confirmation. When we con-
seems to me indefensible,but it is neverthe- sider Momigliano's view of the relation
less an opinionthatwas alreadyenshrinedin betweenrhetoric and historyas itemergedin
1913 in the long articleon Herodotusin the the lastyearsofhis life,it is scarcelysurpris-
secondsupplementary volumeoftheclassical ing thatseveral decades earlierhe was pre-
encyclopediaPaulyWissowafromthe pen of pared to believe that a historianwho was
Felix Jacoby.Althoughno one could accuse supposedtohavebeen theparticular preserve
Jacobyof not knowingthe ancient sources ofrhetoricians mustautomatically have had a

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HERODOTUS, ALEXANDER,AND ROME

bad reputation.But to show that this bad and the third,duringthe RomanEmpire(es-
reputationwas really not deserved,he was pecially in the second and thirdcenturies
able to point to the aspects of travel and A.D.).
tradition thatmade Herodotusso appealingto Of Herodotus'reputationin his own day,
historiansafterthe Renaissance. But even if littleneed be said. The sources,scatteredand
we can explain Momigliano'streatmentof lacunose as theyare, nonethelessleave us in
Herodotus'place in the historyof post-Re- no doubt of the popularityof the recitations
naissancehistoriography in thisway,we are thatHerodotusprovidedofhis History,espe-
no further along dealingwiththe problem ciallyin Athens.Nor shouldwe be surprised
in
ofHerodotushimselfwithinthecontextofthe thata workculminating in theGreekdefeatof
ancientworld. the invadingarmies of Persia should have
The FatherofHistoryhad critics,tobe sure, appealed to Atheniansin the firstand second
as Thucydidesdid. His style was slavishly generationsafterthat great triumph - Athe-
imitatedby some inferiorwritersin subse- nians who were constructing a far-flungand
of
quent centuries,as was the style Thucyd- lucrativeempire that brought them into direct
ides as well. None of this proves much of contactwiththePersians'ownempire.Herod-
anything. In fact,Herodotuswas studiedand otuswrotein an age of imperialistexpansion
admiredin classicalantiquityalmostas much foran audience thathad reason to learn as
as Thucydides,and we mayperhapsbe able much as it could about the peripheryof its
to understandbetterthe greatnessof Herod- empire,in Egypt,in Scythia,and,ofcourse,in
otus ifwe look at thoseperiodsin whichhis Persiaitself.Butperhapsthegreatestproofof
reputationwas at its peak. Stylisticimitation Herodotus'popularityin his own lifetimeis
can be a pointerto Herodoteanenthusiasms, the venomousremarkof Thucydidesat the
but,in the spiritof Momigliano'srejectionof beginningof his own History.By proudly
the inevitablyrhetoricalcharacterof history, declaringthathe will notwritean entertain-
we mustlook above all to the substance.For mentpiece fora momentbut a possessionfor
Herodotusdid farmore thanput togethera all time,and by confidently assertingthathe
respectablehistoryon thebasis ofsightseeing will exclude whatever is mythicalor legend-
and oral tradition. He created a historyby ary from his work, Thucydides, as has long
region rather than chronology. He believed been recognized, must have been self-con-
thatmythsand falsehoodswere as worthput- sciouslydistancinghimselffromthe workof
ting on the record as palpable truths.The Herodotus (and perhaps also fromthat of
customsand habitsoffaraway peoples wereas Herodoteanimitators oftheday).Thucydides
interesting tohimas themartialexploitsofthe had othercomplaintsto make of Hellanicus,
Greeks.In all ofthishe was utterlydifferent forexample,sloppinessin chronology, but it
fromThucydides.We are not talkingabout is unlikelythatThucydidesor anyone else
stylebut of substanceand structure. would have foundHellanicus pleasurableto
It is not,therefore, Herodotus'bad reputa- read or hear- even fora moment.Herodotus'
tion in the ancient world thatis something Historynot only appealed to a Greek world
exceptionalrequiring explanation, according thatwas expandingand comingintocontact
to Momigliano'sformulation, but ratherthe withremotepeoples,itwas obviouslya prod-
periodsin whichhis reputation soared.When uct of it. The investigationsof Herodotus
and whywas Herodotusparticularly appreci- compriseda handbookforthe Athenianem-
ated in antiquity - and appreciatedfor the pire,writtenwithall the childlikewonderof
substance and structureof his work, not Vasco da Gama on the coastof India.
merelyhis style?Afterall, thegrammarians of But Pericles' misguided policies and the
the Hellenistic period, who fastened the ensuingPeloponnesianWarswiftly ended the
names of the Muses onto the nine books of era of ebullient expansionismin the Greek
Herodotus' History,seem to have worked world,and theinternecinestruggleson which
happily on his text withoutreflectingany Thucydidesbroodedso profoundly obscured
larger interest at thattime in his historiogra- the work of his great predecessor. And yet
phy.There are,in fact,threemainperiodsof onlyhalfa centurylater,in the flushof Iso-
well-documentedenthusiasmforHerodotus. crateanpan-Hellenismand thenew Athenian
The first, duringhis own lifetime, thesecond, expansionism symbolized by the Second
duringthe lifetimeof Alexanderthe Great, AthenianConfederacy, theworkofHerodotus

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once morebecame filledwithmeaningforthe ThatAlexanderhad Herodotus'narration in


Greeks.Theopompus'summary ofHerodotus' mindat thesacrificeat Elaeos is confirmed by
Historyis symptomatic, andhisdebttoHerod- his action shortlyafterward, while crossing
otus in his own historicalwritinghas been the Hellespontto Abydoson the Asian side.
generallyacknowledgedfromantiquity to the He poured into the sea a libation froma
present.But it was AlexandertheGreatupon goldenbowl: spendeinek chrousêsphialês es
whom the substanceof Herodotus'History ton ponton,in the accountof Arrian(Anab.
(certainly notthestyle)had thegreatestinflu- II. 11.6). This grandgesturecan onlybe un-
ence in thefourth century.Alexander'sregard derstoodas a defiantimitationofthe libation
forHerodotusis nowhereattestedexplicitly, of Xerxesat the Hellespontas recordedby
as itis forHomer.ButtheactionsofAlexander Herodotus(VII.54) in virtuallythe same lan-
leave us in no doubtthathe knewhis Herod- guage: spendônek chrouseês
phialês Xerxês
otusintimately, norshouldthatbe surprising es ten thalassan,
"pouringa libationintothe
sinceAlexander'savowedpurposewas totake sea froma
goldenbowl." Equallyclearechoes
vengeanceon the Persiansforthe veryinva- of Herodotuscan be found in Alexander's
sionsofwhichHerodotushad been thechron- conductat theend ofhis
icler.And the vengeancewas to be takenin the expeditionjust as at
beginning. In Media, for example, he
preciselythoseregionsthatHerodotushad so wentto theNêsaean plainto
inspecttheroyal
lovinglydescribed. horses; and he could onlyhave done this,as
It is odd that Alexander'sknowledge of
Arrianwas aware(Anab.VII. 13.1),because he
Herodotushas been so littlediscussed.Cer-
wantedto checkthe famous of Herod-
tain of his mostimportant symbolicgestures otuson theso-calledNêsaeanreporthorses
pointdirectlyto Herodoteanprototypes; and, to that assigned
one or two of these ex- region in Book VII. Similarly,a local
although mightbe
in Media presenteda troop of one
plained by traditionratherthan by the text satrap
it is most hundred fightingwomento Alexanderas Am-
itself, unlikelythatthe totalityof
these gesturescan be explainedin thatway. azons that had survived fromthe race of
women described in detail by Herodotus.
Marching to the Hellespont, Alexander
turnedaside fromSestos,fromwhichhe was NeitherAlexandernorthe Alexanderhistori-
to make the crossing,in orderto sacrificeat ans seem to have been deceived intothinking
the tomb of Protesilausat Elaeos, a little thattheseladies actuallywereAmazons.They
fartherto the south on the European side. foughtwith one breast exposed, and Alex-
Protesilauswas believedtohavebeen thefirst anderaccordingly keptthemfarfromthearmy
Greek to have disembarkedon Asian soil in case they were treatedroughlyby the
whenAgamemnonled his expeditionagainst Macedonian troops.But the powerfulinflu-
Troy.Accordingto Arrian(Anab. II. 11.5),Al- ence of Herodotusin thisepisode is scarcely
exander'sintention was toensurethathisown in doubt.
landingin Asia would be luckierthanthatof Between the firstand last years of Alex-
Protesilaus.But the real significanceof Pro- ander'sconquests,theshadowofHerodotusis
tesilaus'tombforAlexanderundoubtedlylay neverfaraway.Sometimesone can onlyinfer
in its desecrationat the hands of Xerxes' a Herodoteaninspiration, as whenAlexander
Persians more than a centuryearlier. The conceiveda desireto sacrificeat theshrineof
Greeks had exacted a savage vengeance for Heracles in Tyre- a shrinewhichhad been
this desecrationby nailing up the offender discussedin detail by Herodotusin Book II.
alive when the Persians withdrew.They Forthatmatter Alexander'sacquaintancewith
stonedto deaththeman'sson beforehis eyes Herodotus'accountofthe sites,legends,and
as he was hangingimpaledon a plankabove a antiquitiesof Egypt in thatbook may well
nearbytown. This cautionarytale occupies have playedan important role in his determi-
thefinalchaptersofthefinalbookofHerodo- nationto make a detourinto Egypt before
tus' Historyand leads up to the memorable striking attheheartofthePersianempire.It is
conclusionin whichCyrusrejectsa proposal hard to believe that when Alexanderjour-
to quit the Persian homelandformorecom- neyed intothe desertto consultthe oracle at
fortablecircumstancesin Asia Minor.It was Siwah he had not in his mind Herodotus'
thegrandfather ofthedespoilerofthetombof reportofthe oracle.
Protesilaus who had put the proposal to An exceptionallysecure inferenceof He-
Cyrus. rodoteaninspirationin the expeditionof Al-

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HERODOTUS, ALEXANDER,AND ROME

exanderhas been establishedrecentlyin an thoughwe must be carefulnot to read too


admirablestudyof Alexander'splans to con- muchintothe praiseofone historianof Hali-
quer Arabiaby the youngGermanhistorian carnassusforanother.NonethelessAugustus'
PeterHögemann.Bothon his wayto theEast briefly held dreamsofconqueringArabiaand
and on his returnto Babylon,Alexanderex- Parthia are more than likely to have sent
pressedstrongdispleasureatthefailureofthe readersback once again to thoseHerodotean
tribesofArabiato send envoysto himand to digressionsand logoi thathad inspiredAlex-
submittohis authority. It is mostunlikelythat ander.In exactlythesameway,thememoryof
Alexanderwouldhave worriedaboutthebed- Alexanderhad inspiredAugustushimself.
ouin tribesof the Arabianpeninsulahad he Butitwas in theaftermath ofthecampaigns
notbeen aware ofthe testimony, in the third ofAlexander'sgreatestemulator,theemperor
bookofHerodotus,thatin former timesthose Trajan,thatthe floodgatesof Herodoteanhis-
same tribeshad sentan annualtributeto the toriography were thrownwide open. Trajan's
Persianking.Similarly, itis mostunlikelythat audacious expeditionagainst the Parthians,
Alexanderwould have conceived a desire his arrivalat thehead ofthePersianGulf,and
to be a god amongthe Arabs,alongside Di- his short-livedannexationof Mesopotamia
onysus and Ouranos, had he not believed had a profoundeffecton his contemporaries.
fromreadingHerodotusthatthe Arabs had In subsequentdecades memoryof the cam-
but two gods,namelyDionysusand Ourania paigns spawned treatments of the Near and
(or Ouranos), whom the Arabs called Orotalt Middle East in a way thatbroughtthe history
and Alilatrespectively.Since the Arab pan- and peoples of these regions closer to the
theoncertainlydid have morethantwogods, readershipoftheGraeco-Roman worldthanat
the doctrineupon whichAlexanderwas rely- any timesince the late fourthcenturyB.C. It
ing seems to have been based upon thetesti- was no accidentthattheParthicaofArrianof
monyof Herodotus,which is unique apart Nicomedia was the work of a consul and
fromAlexander'secho of it. general fromthe Greek East, who is best
Thereis clearlymuchmoreworktobe done knownto us todayas the authorof the most
in isolatingthe meaningof Herodotus'His- detailed and authoritativehistoryof Alex-
toryforAlexander,but it is sufficient now to anderthe Greatthatsurvivesfromantiquity.
recognize its substantial importance. The re- Nor should it be surprisingthat this same
discoveryof Herodotusin the fourth century authortookthe troubleto recountthe exotic
came hand in hand withthe reawakeningof voyagesofAlexander'sadmiral,Nearchus,in
Athenianimperialismand the growthof the a rich Ionic Greek that proclaimedby its
idea of a pan-Hellenic crusade against the dialecttheaffinity ofitssubjectmatterand its
Persians.Fromthe editorializing of Isocrates historiographicalgenre with Herodotus,the
to the actionof Alexander,the Greek world Fatherof History.
looked increasinglyto the world beyond it. The workof Arrianalone should have put
For thatnew age Herodotuswas inevitably Jacobyand thosewho followedhimon guard
the supremeguide. His HistoryjustifiedAl- againstany facile assumptionsmade under
exanderat the same timethatit informed and the influenceof Plutarch'streatiseOn the
inspiredhim. Malignityof Herodotus.Arrian'sattitudeto
The collapse of Alexander'sempireat his Herodotusis unreservedlypositive,and, as
death and the fragmentation of the Greek hismoderncommentator, BrianBosworth, has
worldintotheHellenisticstatescarvedoutby pointedout,the numerousand precise allu-
his successorsput an end to his vision.Inter- sionsto Herodotusin Arrian'shistoryofAlex-
est in Herodotusdeclined accordingly,and anderare all demonstrably his own workand
the historian'stextlay chieflyin the handsof not borrowedfromthe earlier historiansof
scholarsand teachers,who buriedhis workin Alexander,upon whomhe necessarilyrelied
commentary and exegesis.It was thisreputa- forso much. It was Arrianwho appreciated
tionto whichCicero bore witnessin the first the HerodoteanbackgroundforAlexander's
centuryB.C.,when he spoke so condescend- visit to the plain of Nêsa with its famous
inglyoftheFatherofHistory.Andyet,onlya horsesor his searchforthe Amazons,and it
generationafterCicero,in the earlyyearsof was he who providedthe Herodoteanglosses
the Augustanprincipáte,Herodotus began on theseepisodes.
again to receive some measureof praise,al- MeanwhileArrian'scontemporary, Appian,

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also turnedto Herodotusforinspirationin who interested himself in such diverse


writinghistory.In the new CambridgeHis- themesas the kingdomof the Assyrians,the
tory of Classical Literature Ewen Bowie Argonauts, and Alexanderthe Great,was or-
rightlyobserves that,as a Greek fromthe ganized preciselyintonine books,to which
provinces,Appian provided the firstmajor were assignedthe names of the nine Muses.
treatment of the Roman Empire froma pro- The Greekwas Ionic. Substantialfragments of
vincial viewpoint.He stressesthatAppian's Cephalionin Photius,Eusebius, and Malalas
historyof the rise of Rome was organizedin leave us in no doubt thatthis writermixed
discretebooks on the variousprovincialre- mythology, legend,and Greek historydown
gionsratherthanin a comprehensive chrono- to Alexanderin a mannerthatcloselyresem-
logical accountofthe historyofthe Mediter- bled theproceduresofHerodotus.The names
raneanworldas a whole. Bowie states,justly: of the Muses may have been attached to
"The organizationof the history[ofAppian] Herodotus'books in the Hellenisticage, but
aroundprovincialannexationrecallsa classi- by the timeofthe RomanEmpiretheywere
cal model, Herodotus."As withArrian,Ap- obviouslyan integralpartof Herodoteanhis-
pian reflectsthe expanded horizonsof the toriography.
secondcentury, and in particular
theenlarged The division of materialinto nine books
consciousnessthatfollowedthecampaignsof with the use of Ionic can also be seen in a
historian ofthelatethirdcentury whobrought
Trajan. his down to the death of Carus. Cara-
A little later in the second centurythe history
ParthianwarofLucius Verusprovideda new calla's imitation of Alexander, as well as the
humiliating confrontation later of a Roman
impetusto regionaland ethnographic history, with the reestablishedkingdomof
emperor
althoughit would be riskyto lay too much will have providedthis writerwith
stresson the sycophanticand somewhatab- Persia,
ample scope fora workin the Herodotean
surd historiansadduced by Lucian in his manner.The historian'sname was
Eusebius,
essay on How to WriteHistory.I have no butI am reluctant totakeup Eugenio Manni's
doubt that the historiansmentionedthere tentative
wererealwriters, and notfigments suggestionthatthis is none other
ofLucian's thanthe celebratedecclesiasticalhistorianof
imagination, and rejoicethatProfessorJones thesame name.And I am relievedto see that
has been able to give a local habitationand a Professor Barnesfeltno inclinationto explain
name to one of them, Crepereius Calpur- the ecclesiastical
historyas a kind of post-
nianus of Pompeiopolis,who began his his- Herodoteanoeuvre.But the existenceof the
toryin the styleof Thucydides.Lucian ad- workofthisEusebius is important in showing
duced a Herodotean historianof Lucius' thatthe fascinationwithHerodotus
spanned
Parthianwars by the name of Callimorphos, boththe second and the thirdcenturiesand
who happened to have been a doctor.He was
directlyassociatedwiththeenlargedam-
composedhis workin theIonic dialect.Noth- bitionsofthe RomanEmpirein thatperiod.
ingsuggeststhatCallimorphoswas a historian In manyways the mostdistinctiveof the
whomwe would wantto knowbetter,butthe Herodoteanwritersof these two centuries
use of Ionic is a distinctivesignofthe mania fallsalmostin the middle of the
period be-
forHerodotusin the second centuryA.D. Its tween
Cephalion and Eusebius. I referto
affectation by such diversewritersas Arrian AsiniusQuadratus.This historian, froma dis-
and Callimorphoswould suggestthatit was tinguishedsenatorial
family,wrotea history
scarcelythe preserveofrhetoricalschools. ofRomefromthefoundation ofthecityto the
In fact,Ionic as a kind of proclamationof timeofSeverusAlexander.He wrotein Ionic
historiography in theHerodoteanmannercan Greekand equipped his history withthegen-
be clearlytracedfromthe yearsimmediately eral titleof Chilietêris.Althoughthe workis
afterthe deathofTrajan.Although,as Arrian lost,apartfromfragments and allusions,it is
and Appian both demonstrate,Herodotean clear thatwe are dealingwitha historyofan
historiography did notnecessarilyhave to be entiremillenniumin the Herodoteanstyle.
in Ionic,itoftenwas. This featureprovidesan The fragments makeplain thatthe substance
even more powerfulclue to the taste for was no less Herodotean,witha special inter-
Herodotusand his way of writinghistoryin est in geography,local traditions,and the
the Graeco-Romanworld. A wide-ranging etymology oflocal names(forexample,Tigra-
workfromthe hand of a certainCephalion, nocertais said to meanTigranoupolis).

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HERODOTUS, ALEXANDER,AND ROME

A historyofRomecommemorating a millen- ceived fromHerodotus' second book and,


niumin thethirdcentury A.D.pointsunequiv- while disagreeingwith him on individual
ocally to a single date forits inspiration- points, explicitlydissociates himself from
namely,the greatmillennialcelebrationsof criticsof the historian.In his treatmentof
the cityof Rome held by Philip the Arab in the rising of the Nile, Aristides declares
248 A.D.The factthatthe historyextendedto (XXXVI.57Keil),"I have notdiscussedthisso
the reignof SeverusAlexander,accordingto thatI mighttastelesslycensureHerodotus,for
the Suda, gave Jacobyconsiderabletrouble I am notone ofthosewho have endeavoredto
and seriouslyobscured the significanceof do suchthings.MoreoverI do notsympathize
Quadratus'work.Tracinga millenniumback withthose who do. I feel gratefulto Herod-
fromthe death of the last Seveřan,Jacoby otusforthe verylove of Egyptwhichhe first
drew the peculiar conclusion that Asinius inspiredin us. Andin otherrespects,to speak
Quadratusmusthave broughtbackthedateof candidly,I cherishthe man." WhetherAris-
the foundationof Rome to coincide withthe tides had Plutarchin mind when he wrote
firstOlympiadin 776. Eugenio Manniis here thesewordsis beyondcertainty, but I should
to
quite right jettison thisbizarrehypothesis not be surprised if he did; and the evidence
and to insiston the relationshipbetweenthe presentedso farwould suggestthatAristides
Chilietêrisand the millennialcelebrationsof gives us the opinionofthe majority.
Philip. We may assume thatPhilip was ful- The traveler and periegete Pausanias,
somely commemorated in Quadratus' work, whose guide to Greece has been so splen-
presumablyat the beginningand at the end, didlyelucidatedin a recentbookbyChristian
but thereis no need to be puzzled about his Habicht,is anotherofthosenon-historians for
failuretobringtheactualhistory downto248. whom Herodotus was a primarysource of
Thatwould have involvedan accountofPhil- inspiration.Stylisticechoes have, of course,
ip's rise to power under Gordian III, and long been noticed,but Pausanias' indebted-
Quadratuswould understandablyhave had ness goes far beyond that into antiquarian
withthat.Whatis significant
difficulties is that details of both legend and history.Habicht
in Quadratuswe have anothermajorillustra- put the matterveryclearly:"Pausanias is in
tionofHerodoteanhistoriography in celebra- factas close to, and as fondof,Herodotusas
tion of the global aspirationsof the Roman the separationof some six hundred years
state. allows." Later in his work,Habichtobserves
AmongthelesserworksofQuadratuswas a thatthereare onlytwo historianswhomPau-
Parthian historyof uncertain date. Even sanias quotes often,Herodotusand Thucyd-
thoughthe Romanswere apt to interchange ides, but thatHerodotuswas his model. The
the termsParthianand Persian,I feel disin- concentration on these two historiansof the
clinedtobelieve thatQuadratus'Parthicawas fifthcenturyB.C. fitsperfectlywith the im-
a historyof Persianwarsand would preferto pressiongivenby Lucian in his treatiseHow
see in thisworka celebrationof the eastern to WriteHistory.
campaignsofCaracallaas anotherofthegreat All this diverse and compellingevidence
attempts to emulate the conquests of Alex- for Herodotusand Romehas been available,if
anderthe Great. not always easily accessible, for centuries.
If we look beyond those historiansand When broughttogetherit presentsa case for
otherprose writersof the second and third Herodotusthattakeshimoutoftherhetorical
centuriesA.D. who directlyproclaimedtheir schools and into the mainstreamof Graeco-
indebtednessto Herodotusby the use of the Roman culturallife. It presentsa case that
Ionic dialect,or by thedivisionofthehistory restoresHerodotusto a famein antiquityfrom
intonine booksnamedafterthe Muses,or by whichtherewas no need of the antiquarians
the organizationof historyby regionsrather ofthe sixteenthcenturyto rescue him.
thansimple chronology, we can see thatthe The strengthof this case was confirmed
influenceof Herodotusremainedpervasive. onlya fewdecades ago when a new inscrip-
The rhetorAelius Aristidesbetraysan inti- tionat Pergamůmin Asia Minorgave us, for
mate knowledgeof Herodotus'Historyand the firsttime,the date of the historianAulus
cites it dozens and dozens of times. In a Claudius Charax, whose fragmentsJacoby
remarkablepassage in his Egyptian logos, had been unable to place withina period of
Aristidesacknowledgesthe inspiration he re- six centuries.His originalannotationforthe

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THE AMERICANSCHOLAR

date reads Urzeit- ?. Now thatwe knowthat worldthatis bothmoresubtleand moreopen


Charaxthehistorianwas theconsulCharaxin thanthe constipatedinwardnessof Thucyd-
147 (who was revealed to us in the Ostian ides. When the Greeks and the Romans
Fasti), his historyin fortybooks is securely looked beyond theirboundariesand them-
anchoredto themiddleofthesecondcentury selves,in eras ofexpansionand international
A.D. The fragments of Charax'shistoryhave
relations,Herodotuswas thereto guide and
recentlybeen analyzedin an admirablebook inspirethem.That is whyTheopompusand
by Osvalda Andrei.AlthoughCharaxneither Alexanderthe Greatread Herodotus.Above
wrotein Ionic nordividedhis workintonine
books,it is transparentlyclear thatthe inspi- all, thatis whythe Greekand Romanwriters
rationof his historywas Herodotusthrough of the high Roman Empire- historians,ora-
and through. His antiquariancuriosityand his tors,and periegetes - turnedto Herodotusas
interestin local traditionsis onlypartof the theirmodel,sometimesin styleand structure
Herodoteancharacterso acutelyanatomized but moregenerallyin outlookand method.
by Andrei.Whatis mostremarkablein Cha- Perhaps Herodotus' greatestposthumous
rax, and quite properlyreceives Andrei's contribution to the historiography of antiq-
greatestemphasis,is the unblushingcolloca- uity- and, by extension,western civiliza-
tionof mythology and history.Charaxfound tion- is the restorationof popularlegend to
as muchroomforthemythofIo orthestoryof the properdomain of the historian.It is to
the birthof Dionysusas he did forthe Lusus muthôdes, "themythic," whichgivesHerodo-
Troiae or the EmperorAugustus.Withan ec- tus' workits elusive profundity.
umenicalconcernforthe antiquities,myths, Sightseeing
and rhetoricare both incidental,or rather
and historyof both the westernand eastern
supervenient, featuresofHerodotus'manner.
RomanEmpire,Charaxnow emergesas one
of those writerswho, like Cephalion and Andthatmeansthatthesixteenth century may
Pausanias, repudiated Thucydides' banish- not, in fact,have understoodHerodotusso
mentofto muthôdesfromtheworkshopofthe well as theGreeksand Romansofthesecond
historian.He realizedthatmythsprovidedan and thirdcenturiesA.D. It also means that
importanthistoricallink between past and thereis no dangerofever seeing Herodotean
present and that they oftenexplained the historiography as a rhetoricalconstruct.In
ambitionsand conductofcitiesand peoples in revising Arnaldo Momigliano'saccountofHe-
the contemporary world. rodotus'place in thehistory ofhistoriography,
Accordingly, theverynaiveteofHerodotus, we can strengthen his case againstthe meta-
thatchildlikesimplicitythatso beguiled his historyof HaydenWhiteand put historiogra-
readers,embodiesa sophisticated view ofthe phyback intohistory.

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