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Book XI

This webpage reproduces a Book of
The Histories


published in Vol. IV
of the Loeb Classical Library edition,

The text is in the public domain.

This text has not yet been proofread.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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(Vol. IV) Polybius
The Histories

 p307  Fragments of Book XII

I. The Lotus 1

2 1 Polybius in the twelfth book of his histories gives from personal observation the same account as Herodotus of the so‑called lotus of Africa. 2 He says: "The lotus is not a large tree, but it is rough and thorny. Its leaf resembles that of the blackthorn, but is rather wider and flatter. 3 The fruit at first both in colour and size resembles the white myrtle berry when fully grown, but as it grows it becomes purple in colour and about the size of a round olive. The stone is quite small. 5 They gather it when ripe, and after pounding what is meant for the slaves pack it with salt in jars. They remove the stones from the portion meant for freemen and store it in the same way and on this they feed. 6 The food rather resembles figs or dates, but has a better aroma. 7 Wine is also made from it by moistening it and crushing it in water. This wine is sweet and of an agreeable flavour, resembling very good metheglin, and they drink it unwatered. 8 It does not, however, keep for more than ten days, so that they make it  p309 in small quantities when required. They also make vinegar from it."

II. Mistakes of Timaeus concerning Africa and Corsica

3 1 No one can help admiring the richness of the country, 2 and one is inclined to say that Timaeus was not only unacquainted with Africa but that he was childish and entirely deficient in judgement, and was still fettered by the ancient report handed down to us that the whole of Africa is sandy, dry, and unproductive. 3 The same holds good regarding the animals. For the number of horses, oxen, sheep, and goats in the country is so large that I doubt if so many could be found in the rest of the world, 4 because many of the African tribes make no use of cereals but live on the flesh of their cattle and among their cattle. 5 Again, all are aware of the numbers and strength of the elephants, lions, and panthers in Africa, of the beauty of its buffaloes, and the size of its ostriches, creatures that do not exist at all in Europe while Africa is full of them. 6 Timaeus has no information on this subject and seems of set purpose to tell the exact opposite of the actual facts.

7 Regarding Corsica, too, he makes the same kind of random statements as in the case of Africa. 8 In the account he gives of it in his second Book he tells us that there are many wild goats, sheep and cattle  p311 in it, as well as deer, hares, wolves and certain other animals, and that the inhabitants spend their time in hunting those animals, this being their sole occupation. 9 The fact is that in this island not only is there not a single wild goat or wild ox, but there are not even any hares, wolves, deer, or similar animals, with the exception of foxes, rabbits, and wild sheep. 10 The rabbit when seen from a distance looks like a small hare, but when captured it differs much from a hare both in appearance and taste. It lives for the most part under the ground. 4 1 All the animals in the island, however, seem to be wild for the following reason. 2 The shepherds are not able to follow their cattle as they graze, owing to the island being thickly wooded, rough, and precipitous, but when they want to collect the herds they take up their position on suitable spots and call them in by trumpet, all the animal without fail responding to their own trumpet. 3 So that when people touching at the island see goats and oxen grazing by themselves and then attempt to catch them, the animals will not approach them, being unused to them, but take to flight. 4 When the shepherd sees the strangers disembarking and sounds his trumpet the herd starts off at full speed to respond to the call. For this reason the animals give one the impression of being wild, and Timaeus, after inadequate and casual inquiry, made this random statement. 5 It is by no means surprising that the animals should obey the call of the trumpet; for in Italy those in care of swine manage matters in the same way in pasturing them. 6 The swineherd  p313 does not follow behind the animals as in Greece but goes in front and sounds a horn at intervals, the animals following him and responding to the call. 7 They have learnt so well to answer to their own horn that those who hear of this for the first time are astonished and loth to believe it. 8 For owing to the large labouring population and the general abundance of food the herds swine in Italy are very large, especially among the Etruscans and Gauls, so that a thousand pigs and sometimes even more are reared from one sow. 9 They, therefore, drive them out from their night quarters in different troops according to their breed and age. 10 Thus when they cannot keep the different classes apart, but they get mixed either when they are being driven out, or when they are feeding, or when they are on the way home. 11 They, therefore, invented the horn-call to separate them when they get mixed without trouble or fuss. 12 For when one of the swineherds advances in one direction sounding the horn and another turns off in another direction, the animals separate of their own accord and follow the sound of their own horn with such alacrity that it is impossible by any means to force them back or arrest their course. 13 In Greece, on the contrary, when different herds meet each other in the thickets in their search for acorns, whoever has more hands with him and has the opportunity includes his neighbour's swine with his own and carries them off, 14 or at times a robber will lie in wait and drive some off without the man in charge of them knowing how he has lost them, as the swine become widely  p315 separated from their conductors in their race for the acorn when the fruit just begins to fall. But this is enough on this subject.

III. Other Errors made by Timaeus

4a Who could continue to pardon such faults, especially when committed by Timaeus who is so fond of cavilling at similar blemishes in others? 2 For instance, he accuses Theopompus of stating that Dionysius was conveyed from Sicily to Corinth in a merchant ship, whereas he really travelled in a warship, 3 and again he falsely accuses Ephorus of making a blunder because he tells us that the elder Dionysius began to reign at the age of twenty-three, reigned for forty-two years, and died at the age of sixty-three. 4 For surely no one could say that the mistake here was the author's, but it is obviously the scribe's. 5 Either Ephorus must have surpassed Coroebus and Margites​2 in stupidity if he could not reckon that forty-two added to twenty-three make sixty-five, 6 or as nobody would believe this of Ephorus, the mistake is evidently due to the scribe. No one, however, could approve of Timaeus' love of cavilling and fault-finding.

4b Again in his account of Pyrrhus he tells us that the Romans still commemorate the disaster at Troy by shooting on a certain day a war-horse  p317 before the city in the Campus Martius, because the capture of Troy was due to the wooden horse — a most childish statement. 2 For at that rate we should have to say that all barbarian tribes were descendants of the Trojans, 3 since nearly all of them, or at least the majority, when they are entering on a war or on the eve of a decisive battle sacrifice a horse, divining the issue from the manner in which it falls. 4c Timaeus in dealing with the foolish practice seems to me to exhibit not only ignorance but pedantry in supposing that in sacrificing a horse they do so because Troy was said to have been taken by means of a horse.

2 But from all this it is evident that the account he gives of Africa, of Sardinia, and especially of Italy, is inaccurate, 3 and we see that generally the task of investigation has been entirely scamped by him, and this is the most important part of history. 4 For since many events occur at the same time in different places, and one man cannot be in several places at one time, nor is it possible for a single man to have seen with his own eyes every place in the world and all the peculiar features of different places, the only thing left for an historian is 5 to inquire from as many people as possible, to believe those worthy of belief and to be an adequate critic of the reports that reach him.

4d In this respect Timaeus, while making a great parade of accuracy, is, in my opinion, wont to be very short of the truth. 2 So far is he from accurate investigation of the truth by questioning others that not even about matters he has seen with his own eyes and places he has actually visited does he tell  p319 us anything trustworthy. 3 This will become evident if we can show that in talking of Sicily he makes mistaken statements. 4 For we may almost say that no further evidence of his inaccuracy is required, if as regards the country where he was born and bred and the most celebrated spots in it we find him mistaken and widely diverging from the truth. 5 He tells us, then, that the fountain of Arethusa in Syracuse derives its source from the river Alpheius in the Peloponnese which runs through Arcadia and past Olympia. 6 This river, he says, diving into the earth and travelling four thousand stades under the Sicilian Sea reappears in Syracuse. 7 This, he adds, is proved by the fact that once upon a time after heavy rains at the season of the Olympian festival, when the river had flooded the sanctuary, 8 Arethusa threw up a quantity of dung from the beasts sacrificed at the festival and even a gold bowl which they recognized as coming from the festival and made away with.

IV. Errors of Timaeus about Locri

5 1 I happen to have paid several visits to Locri and to have rendered the Locrians important services. 2 It was indeed through me that they were excused from serving in the Spanish and Dalmatian campaigns, in both of which they were required by the terms of their treaty to send aid to the Romans by sea. 3 In consequence they were relieved from considerable hardship, danger, and expense, and in return conferred on me all kinds of honours and  p321 favours; so that I ought rather to speak well of the Locrians than the reverse. 4 But nevertheless I have not hesitated to affirm both in speech and writing that account we have received from Aristotle about the foundation of the colony is truer than that given by Timaeus. 5 For I know that the Locrians themselves confess that the tradition handed down to them by their fathers concerning the colony is that given by Aristotle and not that of Timaeus. And of this they adduce the following proofs. 6 First of all that at Locri all ancestral nobility is derived from women, not from men, as, for example, those are considered noble among them who are said to be of the "hundred houses." 7 These "hundred houses" were those distinguished by the Locrians as the leading families before the colony was sent out, the families from which the Locrians, as the oracle ordered, were to select by lot the virgins they had to send to Troy. 8 Some women belonging to these families left with the colony, and it is their descendants who are still considered noble and called "of the hundred houses." 9 Again, as regards the virgin ministrant they call the Phialephorus the tradition is much as follows. 10 At the time they expelled the Sicels who had occupied this site in Italy, at whose sacrifices the procession was led by a boy of one of the most celebrated and noble families, the Locrians adopted several of the Sicelian rites, as they had no inherited ritual, retaining among others this particular one, 11 but making merely this change in it that they did not appoint one of their boys to be Phialephorus, but one of their virgins, because nobility among them was derived from women.

 p323  6 1 As for treaties with the Locrians of Greece proper there were none, and none were ever said to have existed, but all knew of the tradition of one with the Sicels. 2 About this they said that when on their first arrival they found the Sicels in occupation of the place they now dwell in, and the Sicels being terror-struck at their arrival received them out of fear, they made a solemn compact to the effect that they would be their friends and share the country with them as long as they trod on this earth and wore heads on their shoulders. 4 When they were taking the oath they say that the Locrians had put some earth into the soles of their shoes and had concealed on their shoulders under their dress some heads of garlic: in this state they took the oath, but subsequently emptying their shoes of the earth and throwing away the heads of garlic, they very shortly afterwards, when the occasion presented itself, expelled the Sicels from the country. 6 Such is the account given by the Locrians. . . .

Timaeus of Tauromenium in the ninth Book of his Histories, says: "It was not the Greek custom to be served by purchased slaves," adding "They accused Aristotle in general of having misunderstood the Locrian customs, for (they said) the law did not permit the Locrians even to possess them."​3

Timaeus of Tauromenium forgetting himself — he is confuted by Polybius in the twelfth Book of his Histories — says it was once not even the custom for the Greeks to possess slaves.

 p325  6a The inference from all this is that we should rely on Aristotle rather than on Timaeus. 2 And what follows in the latter is quite peculiar. For it is foolish to suppose, as he hints, that it was improbable that the slaves of those who had been the allies of the Lacedaemonians should adopt the friendly feelings of their masters for the friends of those masters. 3 Men, indeed, who have once been slaves when they meet with unexpected good fortune attempt to affect and reproduce not only the likings but the friendships and relation­ships of their masters, taking more pains to do so than those actually connected by blood, and hope to wipe out their former inferiority and disrepute by this very effort to appear rather as descendants than as freedmen of their late masters. 6b And in the case of the Locrians this is especially likely to have happened. For as they had removed to a great distance from those acquainted with their past and had lapse of time on their side, they would not have been so foolish as to behave in a manner likely to revive the memory of their defects, but would have conducted themselves as to cover these defects. 2 They, therefore, naturally named their city after the women and pretended to be related to other Locrians on the female side, renewing also those ancestral friendships and alliances which were derived from women. 3 For this reason too the fact that the Athenians ravaged their country is no proof that Aristotle's statements are not correct. 4 For, as it was to be expected from what I have said, that even had they been slaves ten times over these men who set sail from Locri and landed in Italy would have affected to be friends of the Lacedaemonians,  p327 it was only to be expected also that the Athenians would be hostile to the whole pack of these Locrians, not so much from consideration of their ancestry as in view of their sympathies. 5 How again, I ask, could the Spartans who had once sent home those in the prime of life to beget children have refused permission to the Locrians to do the same thing. 6 Not only the probabilities, however, in each case but the facts differ considerably. 7 For neither were the Spartans likely to prevent the Locrians from acting as they had acted themselves — this would have been strange indeed — nor were the Locrians likely at the bidding of the Spartans to act in precisely the same manner as the latter had acted. 8 For among the Lacedaemonians it was a hereditary custom and quite usual for three or four men to have one wife or even more if they were brothers, the offspring being the common property of all, and when a man had begotten enough children, it was honourable and quite usual for him to give his wife to one of his friends. 9 Therefore the Locrians, who were not subject to the same curse as the Spartans, nor bound by an oath such as the Spartans had taken that they would not return home before storming Messene, did not, as readily as can be explained, imitate the Spartans in a general dispatch of men to their wives, 10 but returning home singly and at rare intervals allowed their wives to become more familiar with their slaves than with their original husbands, and allowed their maidens still greater latitude, which was the cause of emigration.

7 1 Timaeus frequently makes false statements. He appears to me not to be in general uninformed  p329 about such matters, but his judgement to be darkened by prejudice; and when he once sets himself to blame or praise anyone he forgets everything and departs very widely from his duty as a historian. 2 Let it suffice, however, on behalf of Aristotle that I have shown how and relying on what authority he composed his account of Locri. 3 But what I am now about to say concerning Timaeus and his work as a whole, and in general about the duty incumbent on those who occupy themselves with history, will meet objections more or less as follows. 4 That both authors have aimed at reaching probability, but that there is more probability in Aristotle's account, I think everyone will avow after what I have said. It is not however, I shall be told, possible to pronounce absolutely about the truth of anything in this matter. 5 Well! I am even ready to concede that Timaeus's account is more probable. But is this a reason why a historical writer whose statements seem lacking in probability must submit to listen to every term of contumely and almost to be put on trial for his life? 6 Surely not. For those, as I said, who make false statements owing to error should meet with kind correction and forgiveness, but those who lie deliberately deserve an implacable accuser.

8 1 We have, then, either to show that Aristotle, in making the statements I have just reproduced about Locri, did so for the sake of currying favour or for gain or from some self-interested motive, or if we do not venture to maintain this we must confess that those are wrong and at fault who exhibit to others such animosity and bitterness as Timaeus does to Aristotle. 2 He calls him arrogant, reckless, and  p331 headstrong, and adds that he had the effrontery to attack the city of Locri by stating that the colony consisted of runaway slaves, lackeys, adulterers, and kidnappers. 3 And all this, he says, is told with such an assumption of trustworthiness that one would take him for one of those back from the campaign who had just by his own power defeated the Persians in a pitched battle at the Cilician gates, 4 and not for a pedantic and detestable sophist who had just locked up his precious surgeon's shop. Besides this he says he had forced his way into every court and on to every stage and was a glutton and epicure catering for his mouth in everything. 5 I think that surely such language could scarcely be tolerated even from the lips of some unscrupulous knave making random accusations in a law court; for we must avow that he goes beyond all bounds. 6 But no chronicler of public affairs, no really leading historian, would ever dare to entertain such thoughts, much less to put them in writing.

9 1 Let us now look at Timaeus's own deliberate statement, and compare with Aristotle's the account he himself gives of this identical colony, so that we may discover which of the two deserves such an accusation. 2 He tells us, then, in the same Book, that he investigated the history of the colony, no longer applying the test of mere probability, but personally visiting the Locrians in Greece proper. 3 He states that in the first place they showed him a written treaty, still preserved between them and the emigrants, with the following phrase at the outset, "As parents to children." 4 In addition there were decrees that citizens of either town were citizens of  p333 the other. When they heard Aristotle's account of the colony they expressed astonishment at that author's recklessness. 5 Proceeding afterwards to the Italian Locri he says he found their laws and customs also were such as beseemed not a pack of rascally slaves but a colony of freemen. 6 For certainly there were penalties fixed in their code for kidnappers as well as for adulterers and runaway slaves, which would not have been the case had they been aware that they themselves sprang from such men.

10 1 In the first place we are in doubt as to which of the Greek Locrians he visited for the purpose of inquiry. 2 For if the Greek Locrians, like the Italian, were confined to one city we should perhaps not entertain any doubt, but the matter would be perspicuous. 3 But since there are two sets of Locrians in Greece proper, we ask to which he went and to which of their cities and in whose possession he found the inscribed treaty; for he gives us no information on the subject. 4 And yet Timaeus's special boast, the thing in which he outvies other authors and which is the main cause of the reputation he enjoys, is, as I suppose we all know, his display of accuracy in the matter of dates and public records, and the care he devotes to such matters. 5 So it is most surprising that he has not informed us of the name of the city where he found the treaty or the exact spot in which it is inscribed, or who were the magistrates who showed him this document and with whom he spoke, so that no cause of perplexity would be left, but the place and the city being identified, those in doubt would  p335 have the means of discovering the exact truth. 6 The fact that he neglects to inform us on all these points is a clear proof that he knew he was deliberately lying. For that, had Timaeus got hold of such information, he would not have let a word of it escape, but, as the phrase is, would have held on to it tight with both hands, is evident from the following consideration. 7 Would the writer who mentions Echecrates by name as the man on whom he depends, having consulted him about the Italian Locrians and obtained this information, 8 the writer who, not to appear to have heard all this from a person of no importance, takes the pains to tell us that the father of this Echecrates had formerly been deemed worthy of employment as envoy by Dionysius — 9 would such a writer, I ask, if he had got hold of a public record or a commemorative inscription, have held his tongue about it? 11 1 For this is the author who compares the dates of the ephors with those of the kings in Lacedaemon from the earliest times, and the lists of Athenian archons and priestesses of Hera at Argos with those of the victors at Olympia, and who convicts cities of inaccuracy in these records, there being a difference of three months. 2 Yes, and it is Timaeus who discovered the inscriptions at the back of buildings and lists of proxeni on the jambs of temples. 3 We cannot then believe that he would have missed any such thing had it existed, or omitted to mention it had he found it, nor can we in any way excuse his mendacity. 4 Himself a most bitter and implacable critic of others he can but expect to meet with implacable criticism at the hands of others. 5 Next, having been obviously guilty of untruth in regard to this matter, he passes  p337 to the Italian Locrians and tells us in the first place that he found the constitution and general culture of both these Locrians and those in Greece to be the same, but that Aristotle and Theophrastus had falsely accused the Italian town. 6 I am quite aware that here too I shall be compelled to digress from my main subject, in order to put my case more directly and further fortify it, 7 but as a fact I deferred to one place my discussion of Timaeus just because I do not wish to be obliged frequently to neglect my main task. . . .

Timaeus says that the worst vice of history is falsehood. 8 So he advises those whom he convicts of falsehood in their works to find another name for their book and call it anything but history. . . .

12 1 Timaeus says, that as a rule which is defective in length and breadth but possesses the essential quality of a rule must still be called a rule, but when it has no approach to straightness or any quality akin to straightness, must be called anything rather than a rule, 2 so in the case of historical works, when they are defective in style, treatment, or any other particular quality but still strive to ascertain the truth they may claim to be styled histories, but when they fall away from truth have no longer any claim to this name. 3 I quite agree with him that truth is the leading quality in such books, and somewhere in the course of this work I made the same statement, writing as follows, that in the case of a living body if the eyes are put out the whole becomes useless, so if you take away truth from history what remains is but an unprofitable fable.

 p339  4 I said, however, that there are two kinds of falsehood, one the consequence of ignorance and the other deliberate, 5 and that we should accord pardon to those who fall away from the truth owing to ignorance, but should refuse to forgive deliberate lying.

This point being settled I affirm 6 that the difference is very wide between such falsehood as is the result of ignorance and such as is deliberate, the one admitting of pardon and kindly correction but the other deserving implacable condemnation. 7 And one finds that Timaeus himself is a chief sinner in this respect, as I will now prove.

12a We use this proverb about those who violate treaties, "The Locrians and the pact,"​4 and the origin of this is that, as both authors and other people agree, on the occasion of the invasion of the Heracleidae the Locrians had promised the Peloponnesians to raise war signals in case it happened that the Heracleidae tried to cross by Rhion and not to pass the Isthmus, so that due warning might be given and measures taken to prevent their invasion. 3 The Locrians, however, did not do this, but on the contrary raised friendly signals when the Heracleidae arrived, so that they made the crossing in safety, and the Peloponnesians, thus betrayed by the Locrians and neglecting to take any precautions, before they were aware of it had permitted their foes to enter their country.

12b We should indeed reprove and ridicule the frenzy of those authors who dream dreams and write like men possessed. But those who indulge freely  p341 themselves in this kind of foolery should, far from accusing others, be only too glad if they escape blame themselves. Such is the case with Timaeus. 2 He calls Callisthenes a flatterer for writing in the manner he does, and says he is very far from being a philosopher, paying attention as he does to crows and frenzied women. He adds that Alexander was very right in punishing him, as he had corrupted his mind as far as he could. 3 He praises Demosthenes and the other orators who flourished at the time and says they were worthy of Greece because they opposed the conferment of divine honours on Alexander, while the philosopher who invested a mortal with aegis and thunderbolt was justly visited by heaven with the fate that befel him.

13 1 Timaeus tells us that Demochares had been guilty of such impurity that he was not a fit person to blow the sacrificial flame, and that in his practices he had been more shameless than the works of Botrys, Philaenis, and other obscene writers. 2 Scurrilous assertions of this kind are such as not only no man of culture, but not even any of the inmates of a brothel would make. 3 But Timaeus, in order that he may gain credit for his filthy accusations and his utter lack of decency, has made a further false charge against Demochares, dragging in the evidence of a comic poet of no repute. 4 You will ask on what grounds I infer that Timaeus is guilty of falsehood? First and foremost because Demochares was of good birth and breeding, being the nephew of Demosthenes, 5 and secondly because the Athenians deemed him worthy not only of the office of strategus, but  p343 of other distinctions, to none of which could he have successfully aspired had he had such disadvantages to combat. 6 Timaeus, therefore, seems to me to accuse not so much Demochares as the Athenians for advancing such a man and entrusting their country and their lives and properties to him. 7 But not a word of all this can be true. For in that case not only Archedicus, the comic poet, would, as Timaeus asserts, have said this about Demochares, 8 but many of the friends of Antipater also, against whom Demochares had ventured to say much calculated to vex not only Antipater himself but his successors and former friends. The same accusations would have been brought also by many of Demochares' political adversaries, among whom was Demetrius of Phaleron. 9 Demochares in his history brings accusations by no means trivial against Demetrius, telling us that the statesman­ship on which he prided himself was such as a vulgar farmer of taxes would pride himself on, his boast having been that the market in the town was plentifully supplied and cheap, and that there was abundance of all the necessities of life for everybody. 11 He tells us that a snail moved by machinery went in front of his procession, spitting out saliva, and that donkeys were marched through the theatre, to show, forsooth, that the country had yielded up to others all the glory of Greece and obeyed the behests of Cassander. Of all this he says he was in no wise ashamed. 12 But yet neither Demetrius nor anyone else said anything of the sort about Demochares. 14 1 From which, regarding the testimony of his country as more trustworthy than Timaeus's spite, I pronounce with confidence that the life of Demochares was guiltless of all such  p345 offences. 2 And even if, as a fact, Demochares had the misfortune to be guilty of any such thing, what circumstance or what event compelled Timaeus to record it in his history? 3 For just as men of sense when they meditate revenge on their enemies do not examine in the first place what others deserve to suffer, but rather how it becomes themselves to act, so when we bring reproaches we must not in the first place consider what is fitting for our enemies to hear, but regard it as of the greatest importance to determine what is proper for ourselves to speak. 5 In the case, therefore, of writers who measure everything by the standard of their own passions and jealousies, we must suspect all their statements and refuse credit to them when extravagant. 6 So that in the present case I may claim to be justified in rejecting the slanders of Timaeus concerning Demochares, 7 whereas this author can claim neither pardon nor credit from anyone, as he has in his reproaches so obviously let himself be carried beyond the bounds of decency by the spitefulness which was engrained in him.

15 1 Nor can I approve the terms in which he speaks of Agathocles, even if that prince were the most impious of men. 2 I allude to the passage at the end of his story in which he says that Agathocles in his early youth was a common prostitute, ready to yield himself to the most debauched, a jackdaw, a buzzard,​5 who would right about face to anyone who wished it. 3 And in addition to this he says that on his death his wife lamenting him called out in her wail, "What did I not do to you? What did you not do to me?" 4 In this instance we are not only inclined to repeat the protest we made in the case of  p347 Demochares, but we are positively astonished by the excess of rancour displayed. 5 For that Agathocles had great natural advantages is evident from Timaeus's own account of him. 6 For if at the age of eighteen he reached Syracuse, escaping from the wheel, the kiln, and the clay, and in a short time, 7 starting from such small beginnings, became master of the whole of Sicily, exposed the Carthaginians to extreme peril, and having grown old in his sovereign position, died with the title of king, 8 must not Agathocles have had something great and wonderful in him, and must he not have been qualified for the conduct of affairs by peculiar mental force and power? Regarding all this a historian should lay before posterity not only such matters as tend to confirm slanderous accusations, but also what redounds to the credit of his prince; for such is the proper function of history. 9 But Timaeus, blinded by his own malice, has chronicled with hostility and exaggeration the defects of Agathocles and has entirely omitted to mention his shining qualities, being unaware that it is just as mendacious for a writer to conceal what did occur as to report what did not occur. I myself, while refraining in order to spare him from giving full expression to my hostility to Timaeus, have omitted nothing less to the object I had in view.​6. . . .

16 1 There was a dispute at Locri between two young men about a slave. The slave had been with one of them for a considerable time, 2 and the other,  p349 two days before, had come in the absence of the master to the latter's country house and had forcibly carried off the slave to his own house. 3 The other young man, when he heard of it, came to the house, seized on the slave, and led him before the magistrates, to whom he maintained that upon his giving proper sureties, the boy ought to remain in his possession. 4 For he said the law of Zaleucus enjoins that in cases of disputed owner­ship the party from whom the property had been taken away or abducted should remain in possession until the trial. 5 The other claimant contended that according to the same law the abduction had been from him; for it was from his house that the slave had been taken and carried before the court. 6 The presiding magistrates were in doubt about the point and calling in the cosmopolis submitted it to him. 7 The cosmopolis defined the law as meaning that the abduction always was from the party who had last been in undisputed possession of the property for a certain time. 8 If anyone forcibly deprives another of property and carries it off to his own house, and if then the former owner comes and takes it away from him, this is not abduction within the meaning of the law. 9 When the young man upon this felt aggrieved and asserted that such was not the intention of the law-giver, they say that the cosmopolis invited him to state his case according to the law of Zaleucus. 10 This is that the two disputants should speak before the "thousand" on the subject of the law-giver's meaning, 11 each with a halter round his neck, and whichever of them appeared to interpret the law worst, should be hanged in the presence of the thousand. 12 Upon the cosmopolis making this offer, the young  p351 man said that the bargain was not a fair one. 13 For the one of them had only two or three years left to live, the cosmopolis being very nearly ninety years of age, whereas he himself in all likelihood had the most of his life still before him. 14 Thus the young man's ready wit relaxed the gravity of the court, but the magistrates followed the opinion of the cosmopolis in defining abduction.

V. Incapacity of Callisthenes in writing of Military Matters

17 1 In order that I may not seem to insist arbitrarily on the acceptance of my criticism of such famous writers, I will take one battle and a very celebrated one, a battle which took place at no very distant date and, what is most important, one at which Callisthenes himself was present. 2 I mean Alexander's battle with Darius in Cilicia. Callisthenes tells us that Alexander had already passed the narrows and the so‑called Cilician gates, while Darius had marched through the pass known as the Gates of Amanus and had descended with his army into Cilicia. 3 On learning from the natives that Alexander was advancing in the direction of Syria he followed him up, and when he approached the pass, encamped on the banks of the river Pinarus. 4 The distance, he says, from the sea to the foot of the hills is not more than fourteen stades, 5 the river running obliquely across this space, with gaps in its banks just where it issues from the mountains, but in its whole course  p353 through the plain as far as the sea passing between steep hills difficult to climb. 6 Having given this sketch of the country, he tells us that Darius and his generals, when Alexander turned and marched back to meet them, decided to draw up the whole phalanx in the camp itself in its original position, the river affording protection, as it ran close past the camp. 7 After this he says they drew up the cavalry along the sea-shore, the mercenaries next them at the brink of the river, and the peltasts next the mercenaries in a line reaching as far as the mountains. 18 1 It is difficult to understand how they posted all these troops in front of the phalanx, considering that the river ran close past the camp, especially in view of their numbers, for, as Callisthenes himself says, there were thirty thousand cavalry and thirty thousand mercenaries, and it is easy to calculate how much space was required to hold them. 3 For to be really useful cavalry should not be drawn up more than eight deep, and between each troop there must be a space equal in length to the front of a troop so that there may be no difficulty in wheeling and facing round. 4 Thus a stade will hold eight hundred horse, ten stades eight thousand, and four stades three thousand two hundred, so that eleven thousand two hundred horse would fill a space of fourteen stades. 5 If the whole force of thirty thousand were drawn up the cavalry alone would very nearly suffice to form three such bodies, one placed close behind the other. 6 Where, then, were the mercenaries posted, unless indeed they were drawn up behind the cavalry? This he tells us was not so, as they were the first to meet the  p355 Macedonian attack. 7 We must, then, of necessity, understand that the cavalry occupied that half of the space which was nearest the sea and the mercenaries the half nearest the hills, 8 and from this it is easy to reckon which was the depth of the cavalry and how far away from the camp the river must have been. 9 After this he tells us that on the approach of the enemy, Darius, who was half way down the line, called the mercenaries himself from the wing to come to him. It is difficult to see what he means by this. 10 For the mercenaries and cavalry must have been in touch just in the middle of the field, so that how, why, and where could Darius, who was actually among the mercenaries, call them to come to him? 11 Lastly, he says that the cavalry from the right wing advanced and attacked Alexander's cavalry, who received their charge bravely and delivering a counter charge fought stubbornly. 12 He forgets that there was a river between them and such a river as he has just described.

19 1 Very similar are his statements about Alexander. He says that when he crossed to Asia he had forty thousand foot and four thousand five hundred horse, 2 and that when he was on the point of invading Cilicia he was joined by a further force of five thousand foot and eight hundred horse. 3 Suppose we deduct from this total three thousand foot and three hundred horse, a liberal allowance for those absent on special service, there still remain  p357 forty-two thousand foot and five thousand horse. 4 Assuming these numbers, he tells us that when Alexander heard the news of Darius's arrival in Cilicia he was a hundred stades away and had already traversed the pass. 5 In consequence he turned and marched back through the pass with the phalanx in front, followed by the cavalry, and last of all the baggage-train. 6 Immediately on issuing into the open country he re-formed his order, passing to all the word of command to form into phalanx, making it at first thirty-two deep, changing this subsequently to sixteen deep, and finally as he approach the enemy to eight deep. 7 These statements are even more absurd than his former ones. For with the proper intervals for marching order a stade, when the men are sixteen deep, will hold sixteen hundred, each man being at a distance of six feet from the next. 8 It is evident, then, that ten stades will hold sixteen thousand men and twenty stades twice as many. 9 From all this it is quite plain that when Alexander made his army sixteen deep the line necessarily extended for twenty stades, and this left all the cavalry and ten thousand of the infantry over.

20 1 After this he says that Alexander led on his army in an extended line, being then at a distance of about forty stades from the enemy. 2 It is difficult to conceive anything more absurd than this. Where, especially in Cilicia, could one find an extent of ground where a phalanx with its long spears could advance for forty stades in a line twenty stades long? 3 The obstacles indeed to such a formation and such a movement are so many that it would  p359 be difficult to enumerate them all, a single one mentioned by Callisthenes himself being sufficient to convince us of its impossibility. 4 For he tells us that the torrents descending the mountains have formed so many clefts in the plain that most of the Persians in their flight perished in such fissures. 5 But, it may be said, Alexander wished to be prepared for the appearance of the enemy. 6 And what can be less prepared than a phalanx advancing in line but broken and disunited? How much easier indeed it would have been to develop from proper marching-order into order of battle than to straighten out and prepare for action on thickly wooded and fissured ground a broken line with numerous gaps in it. 7 It would, therefore, have been considerably better to form a proper double or quadruple phalanx, for which it was not impossible to find marching room and which it would have been quite easy to get into order of battle expeditiously enough, as he was enabled through his scouts to receive in good time warning of the approach of the enemy. 8 But, other things apart, Alexander did not even, according to Callisthenes, send his cavalry on in front when advancing in line over flat ground, but apparently placed them alongside the infantry.

21 1 But here is the greatest of all his mistakes. He tells us that Alexander, on approaching the enemy, made his line eight deep. 2 It is evident then that now the total length of the line must have been forty stades. 3 And even if they closed up so that, as described by Homer, they actually jostled each other, still the front must have extended over twenty stades. 4 But he tells us that there was only a space of less than fourteen stades, and as half of  p361 the cavalry were on the left near the sea and half on the right, the room available for the infantry is still further reduced. Add to this that the whole line must have kept at a considerable distance from the mountains so as not to be exposed to attack by those of the enemy who held the foot-hills. 6 We know that he did as a fact draw up part of his force in a crescent formation to oppose this latter.

I omit to reckon here also​7 the ten thousand infantry more than his purpose required. 7 So the consequence is that the length of the line must have been, according to Callisthenes himself, eleven stades at the most, and in this space thirty-two thousand men must have stood closely packed and thirty deep, whereas he tells us that in the battle they were eight deep. 8 Now for such mistakes we can admit no excuse. 9 For when the actual facts show a thing to be impossible we are instantly convinced that it is so. 10 Thus when a writer gives definitely, as in this case, the distance from man to man, the total area of the ground, and the number of men, he is perfectly inexcusable in making false statements.

22 1 It would be too long a story to mention all the other absurdities of his narrative, and it will suffice to point out a few. 2 He tells us that Alexander in drawing up his army was most anxious to be opposed to Darius in person, and that Darius also at first entertained the same wish, but afterwards changed his mind. 3 But he tells us absolutely nothing as to how they intimated to each other at what point in their own line they were stationed,  p363 or where Darius finally went on changing his position. 4 And how, we ask, did a phalanx of heavy-armed men manage to mount the bank of the river which was steep and overgrown with brambles? 5 This, too, is inexplicable. Such an absurdity cannot be attributed to Alexander, as it is universally acknowledged that from his childhood he was well versed and trained in the art of war. 6 We should rather attribute it to the writer, who is so ignorant as to be unable to distinguish the possible from the impossible in such matters. 7 Let this suffice for Ephorus and Callisthenes.

VI. The Faults of Timaeus

23 1 Timaeus, while vehemently attacking Ephorus, is himself guilty of two grave faults, 2 the first being that he thus bitterly accuses others of the sins he himself is guilty of, and the second that he shows an utterly depraved mind in publishing such statements in his works and engendering such notions in his readers. 3 If, indeed, we must admit that Callisthenes deserved to perish as he did under torture, what fate did Timaeus merit? For the wrath of the gods would have fallen on him with much more justice than on Callisthenes. 4 Callisthenes wished to deify Alexander, but Timaeus makes Timoleon greater than the most illustrious gods; 5 Callisthenes spoke of a man whose soul, as all admit, had something in it greater than human, 6 Timaeus of Timoleon who not only never seems to have achieved anything great,  p365 but never even to have attempted to do so, and in his whole life accomplished but one move and that by no means important considering the greatness of the world, the move from his country to Syracuse. 7 The fact, in my opinion, is that Timaeus was sure that if Timoleon, who had sought fame in a mere tea-cup, as it were, Sicily, could be shown to be worthy of comparison with the most illustrious heroes, he himself, who treated only of Italy and Sicily, could claim comparison with writers whose works dealt with the whole world and with universal history. 8 I have now said enough to defend Aristotle, Theophrastus, Callisthenes, Ephorus, and Demochares from the attacks of Timaeus, and to convince those who not having the spirit to challenge the statements of this author place implicit reliance on all he says.

24 1 We must entertain considerable doubt about the proclivities of Timaeus. For he tells us that poets and authors reveal their real natures in their works by dwelling excessively on certain matters. 2 Homer, he says, is constantly feasting his heroes, and this indicates that he was more or less of a glutton. Aristotle frequently gives recipes for cookery in his works, so he must have been an epicure and a lover of dainties. 3 In the same way Dionysius the tyrant revealed his effeminate tastes by his interest in bed-hangings and the constant study he devoted to varieties and peculiarities of different woven work. 4 We are driven then to form our opinion of Timaeus on the same principle and to take an unfavourable view of his own tendencies. 5 For while he exhibits great severity and audacity in accusing others, his own pronouncements are full of dreams, prodigies, incredible tales, and to put it  p367 shortly, craven superstition and womanish love of the marvellous. 6 Be that as it may, it is made evident from what I have just said and from this case of Timaeus that owing to ignorance and a defect of judgement many men are at times as it were absent when present and blind with their eyes open.

25 1 There was a brazen bull which Phalaris made in Agrigentum, and in it he shut up men and afterwards lighting fire beneath it used to take such dreadful revenge on his subjects that as the brass grew red and the man inside perished roasted and scorched, when he screamed in the extremity of his agony, the sound when it reached the ears of those present resembled, owing to the way the thing was constructed, the lowing of a bull. 3 This bull during the Carthaginian domination was taken from Agrigentum to Carthage, and though the door at the joint of its shoulder-blades through which the victims were lowered into it, was still preserved, and though no reason at all can be found why such a bull should have been made in Carthage, 4 yet Timaeus attempts to demolish the common story and to give the lie to the statements of poets and authors, asserting that neither the bull that was in Carthage came from Agrigentum, nor had there ever been one in Agrigentum, 5 and entering into quite a long disquisition on this subject.

What terms are we to use in speaking of Timaeus? For to me it seems that all the most bitter phrases  p369 of the kind he applies to others are appropriate to himself. 6 That he was quarrelsome, mendacious, and headstrong has been, I trust, sufficiently proved by what I have already said, but what I am about to add will make it evident that he was no philosopher and in general a man of no education. 7 For in his twenty-first book, near the end, he says, in the course of Timoleon's address to his troops, "The earth lying under the universe being divided into three parts named Asia, Africa, and Europe."​8 8 No one would credit that, I will not say Timaeus but, even the celebrated Margites had said such a thing. 9 For who is such an ignoramus, I do not speak of those who undertake to write history but. . . .

25a as the proverb tells us that a single drop from the largest vessel suffices to tell us the nature of the whole contents, so we should regard the subject now under discussion. 2 When we find one or two false statements in a book and they prove to be deliberate ones, it is evident that not a word written by such an author is any longer certain and reliable. 3 But to convince those also who are disposed to champion him I must speak of the principle on which he composes public speeches, harangues to soldiers, the discourses of ambassadors, and, in a word, all utterances of the kind, which, as it were, sum up events and hold the whole history together. 4 Can anyone who reads these help noticing that Timaeus had untruthfully reported them  p371 in his work, and has done so of set purpose? 5 For he has not set down the words spoken nor the sense of what was really said, but having made up his mind as to what ought to have been said, he recounts all these speeches and all else that follows upon events like a man in a school of rhetoric attempting to speak on a given subject, and shows off his oratorical power, but gives no report of which was actually spoken.

25b The peculiar function of history is to discover, in the first place, the words actually spoken, whatever they were, and next to ascertain the reason why what was done or spoken led to failure or success. 2 For the mere statement of a fact may interest us but is of no benefit to us: but when we add the cause of it, study of history becomes fruitful. 3 For it is the mental transference of similar circumstances to our own times that gives us the means of forming presentiments of what is about to happen, and enables us at certain times to take precautions and at others by reproducing former conditions to face with more confidence the difficulties that menace us. 4 But a writer who passes over in silence the speeches made and the causes of events and in their place introduces false rhetorical exercises and discursive speeches, destroys the peculiar virtue of history. And of this Timaeus especially is guilty, and we all know that his work is full of blemishes of the kind.

25c Perhaps, therefore, some might wonder how, being such as I have proved him to be, he meets with such acceptance and credit from certain people. 2 The reason of this is that, as throughout his whole work he is so lavish of fault-finding and abuse, they  p373 do not form their estimate of him from his own treatment of history and his own statements, but from the accusations he brings against others, for which kind of thing he seems to me to have possessed remarkable industry and a peculiar talent. 3 It was much the same with Strato, the writer on physical science. He also, when he undertakes to set forth and refute the views of the others, is admirable, but when he produces anything original and explains his own notions, he seems to men of science much more simple-minded and dull than they took him to be. 4 I think that the same is the case with literature as with our life in general; for here too it is very easy to find fault with others, and one notices as a rule that those who are readiest to blame others err most in the conduct of their own life.

25d Besides the above-mentioned faults another thing remains to be noticed about Timaeus. Having lived for nearly fifty years in Athens with access to the works of previous writers, he considered himself peculiarly qualified to write history, making herein, I think, a great mistake. 2 For as medicine and history have this point of resemblance, that each of them may be roughly said to consist of three parts, so there is the same difference in the dispositions those who enter on these callings. 3 To begin with, as there are three parts of medicine, first the theory of disease, next dietetics, and thirdly surgery and pharmaceutics [a sentence only partially legible in the MS.], the study of the theory of  p375 disease, 4 which is derived chiefly from the schools of Herophilus and Callimachus at Alexandria, is indeed an integral part of medicine, but as regards the ostentation and pretensions of its professors they give themselves such an air of superiority that one would think no one else was master of the subject. 5 Yet when you make them confront reality by entrusting a patient to them you find them just as incapable of being of any service as those who have never read a single medical treatise. Not a few invalids indeed who had nothing serious the matter with them have before now come very near losing their lives by entrusting themselves to these physicians, impressed by their rhetorical powers. 6 For really they are just like pilots who steer by book. But nevertheless these men visit different towns with great parade, and when they manage to collect a crowd, throw into the greatest confusion and expose to the contempt of their audience men who in actual practice have given real proof of their skill, the persuasiveness of their eloquence often prevailing against the testimony of practical experience. 7 The third quality,​9 which in every profession gives the true habit of mind, is not only rare but is often cast into the shade by gabble and audacity owing to people's general lack of judgement.

25e In the same fashion systematic history too consists of three parts, the first being the industrious study of memoirs and other documents and a comparison of their contents, the second the survey of cities, places, rivers, lakes, and in general all the peculiar features of land and sea and the  p377 distances of one place from another, and the third being the review of political events; 2 and just as in the case of medicine, many aspire to write history owing to the high opinion in which the science is held, but most of them bring to the task absolutely no proper qualification except recklessness, audacity, and roguery, 3 courting popularity like apothecaries, and always saying whatever they regard as opportune in order to curry favour for the same of getting a living by this means. About them it is not worth saying more.º 4 Some of those again who appear to be justified in undertaking the composition of history, just like the theoretical doctors, after spending a long time in libraries and becoming deeply learned in memoirs and records, persuade themselves that they are adequately qualified for the task, seeming indeed to outsiders to contribute sufficient for the requirements of systematic history, but, in my own opinion, contributing only a part. 5 For it is true that looking through old memoirs is of service for knowledge of the views of the ancients and the notions people formerly had about conditions, places, nations, states, and events, and also for understanding the circumstances and chances which beset each nation in former times. 6 For past events make us pay particular attention to the future, that is to say if we really make thorough inquiry in each case into the past. 7 But to believe, as Timaeus did, that relying upon the mastery of material alone one can write well the history of subsequent events is absolutely foolish, and is much as if a man who had seen the works of ancient painters fancied himself to be a capable painter and a master of that art.

 p379  25f What I say will be made plainer by the instance I am about to adduce, as, for example, in the first place, from what happened to Ephorus in certain parts of his history. Ephorus seems to me in dealing with war to have a certain notion of naval warfare, but he is entirely in the dark about battles on land. 2 When, therefore, we study attentively his accounts of the naval battles near Cyprus and Cnidus in which the Persian king's commanders were engaged with Euagoras of Salamis, and on the second occasion with the Lacedaemonians, we are compelled to admire this writer for his descriptive power and knowledge of tactics, and we carry away much information useful for similar circumstances. 3 But when he describes the battle of Leuctra between the Thebans and Lacedaemonians, or that at Mantinea between the same peoples, the battle in which Epaminondas lost his life, if we pay attention to every detail and look at the former and reformation of the armies during the actual battle, he provokes our laughter and seems perfectly inexperienced in such things and never to have seen a battle. 4 It is true that the battle of Leuctra, a special affair in which only one part of the army was engaged, does not make the writer's ignorance very conspicuous, but while the battle of Mantinea has the appearance of being described with much detail and military science, the description is quite imaginary, and the battle was not in the least understood by the writer. 5 This becomes evident if we get a correct idea of the ground and then number the movements he describes as being carried out on it. 6 The same is the case with Theopompus, 7 and more especially with Timaeus of whom we are now speaking.  p381 For where they give a summary account of such matters, their errors escape notice, but when they wish to describe and point out the nature of any detailed movement they are both seen to be exactly like Ephorus.

25g It is neither possible for a man with no experience of warlike operations to write well about what happens in war, nor for one unversed in the practice and circumstances of politics to write well on that subject. 2 So that as nothing written by mere students of books is written with experience or vividness, their works are of no practical utility to readers. For if we take from history all that can benefit us, what is left is quite contemptible and useless. 3 Again, when they attempt to write in detail about cities and places the result must be very similar, many things worthy of mention being omitted and many things not worth speaking of being treated at great length. 4 This is often the case with Timaeus owing to the fact that he does not write from the evidence of his eyes.

25h In his thirty-fourth book Timaeus says, "Living away from home at Athens for fifty years continuously, and having, as I confess, no experience of active service in war or any personal acquaintance with places." 2 So that, when he meets with such matters in his history, he is guilty of many errors and misstatements, and if he ever comes near the truth he resembles those painters who make their sketches from stuffed bags. 3 For in their case the  p383 outlines are sometimes preserved but we miss that vividness and animation of the real figures which the graphic art is especially capable of rendering. The same is the case with Timaeus and in general with all who approach the work in this bookish mood. 4 We miss in them the vividness of facts, as this impression can only be produced by the personal experience of the author. Those, therefore, who have not been through the events themselves do not succeed in arousing the interest of their readers. 5 Hence our predecessors considered that historical memoirs should possess such vividness as to make one exclaim when the author deals with political affairs that he necessarily had taken part in politics and had experience of what is wont to happen in the political world, when he deals with war that he had been in the field and risked his life, and when he deals with private life that he had reared children and lived with a wife, and so regarding the other parts of life. 6 This quality can naturally only be found in those who have been through affairs themselves and have acquired this sort of historical knowledge. It is difficult, perhaps, to have taken a personal part and been one of the performers in every kind of event, but it is necessary to have had experience of the most important and those of commonest occurrence.

25i That what I say is not unattainable is sufficiently evidenced by Homer, in whose works we find much of this kind of vividness. From these considerations 2 I suppose everyone would now agree that industry in the study of documents is only a third part of history and only stands in the third place. 3 How true what I have just said is will be most clear from the  p385 speeches, political, exhortatory, and ambassadorial, introduced by Timaeus. 4 There are few occasions which admit of setting forth all possible arguments, most admitting only of those few brief arguments which occur to one, and even of these there are certain which are appropriate to contemporaries, others to men of former times, others again to Aetolians, others to Peloponnesians and others to Athenians. But, without point or occasion, 5 to recite all possible arguments for everything, as Timaeus, with his talent for invention, does on every subject, is perfectly untrue to facts, and a mere childish sport — to do it has even in many cases been the cause of actual failure and exposed many to contempt — the necessary thing being to choose on every occasion suitable and opportune arguments. But since the needs of the case vary, we have need of special practice and principle in judging how many and which of the possible arguments we should employ, that is to say if we mean to do good rather than harm to our readers. Now it is difficult to convey by precept what is opportune or not in all instances, but it is not impossible to be led to a notion of it by reasoning from our personal experience in the past. For the present the best way of conveying my meaning is as follows. If writers, after indicating to us the situation and the motives and inclinations of the people who are discussing it report in the next place what was actually said and then make clear to us the reasons why the speakers either succeeded or failed, we shall arrive at some true notion of the actual facts, and we shall be able, both by distinguishing which was successful from which was not and by transferring our impression to similar  p387 circumstances, to treat any situation that faces us with hope of success. 9 But, I fear, it is difficult to assign causes, and very easy to invent phrases by the aid of books, and while it is given only to a few to say a few words at the right time it is a common accomplishment and open to anyone to compose long speeches to no purpose.

25k In confirmation of my charge against Timaeus on this count also, besides that of his mistakes and his deliberate falsification of the truth, I shall give some short extracts from speeches acknowledged to be his, giving names and dates. 2 Of those who were in power in Sicily after the elder Gelo, we have always accepted as a fact that the most capable rulers were Hermocrates, Timoleon, and Pyrrhus of Epirus, and these are the last to whom one should attribute childish and idle speeches. 3 But Timaeus in his twenty-first book says that at the time when Eurymedon came to Sicily and was urging the towns to pursue the war against Syracuse, the Geleans, who were suffering by the war, sent to Camarina begging for a truce. 4 The people of Camarina gladly consented, and upon this both cities sent embassies to their allies begging them to dispatch trustworthy commissioners to Gela to discuss terms of peace and the general interests of all concerned. 5 When, on the arrival of these commissioners, a resolution was proposed in council he represents Hermocrates as speaking somewhat as follows. 6 This statesman, after praising the people of Gela and Camarina first of all for having themselves made the truce, secondly for  p389 being the originators of the negotiations, and thirdly for seeing to it that the terms of peace were not discussed by the multitude but by the leading citizens who knew well the difference between war and peace, 7 after this introduces one or two practical reflexions and then says that they themselves must now give ear to him and learn how much war differs from peace, and this after having just said that he was thankful to the Geleans for this very thing that the discussion was not held by the multitude but in a council well acquainted with such changes. 8 From this it appears that Timaeus was not only deficient in practical sense, but does not even attain the level of the themes we hear in schools of rhetoric. 9 For there all, I suppose, think they ought to give their hearers proofs of things of which they are ignorant or which they disbelieve, but that to exercise our wits in speaking of what our hearers already know is most foolish and childish . . . 10 Apart from his general mistake in devoting the greater part of the speech to a matter that does not require a single word, he employs such arguments as none could believe to have been used by, 11 I will not say that Hermocrates who took part with the Lacedaemonians in the battle of Aegospotami and captured the whole Athenian army with its generals in Sicily but, by any ordinary schoolboy. 26 1 In the first place he thinks it proper to remind the council that men are aroused in the morning in war time by the trumpet  p391 and in peace by the crowing of cocks. 2 After this he tells them that Heracles founded the Olympian games and truce as a proof of his real preference, and that he had injured all those he fought with under compulsion and by order, but that he had done no evil to any man of his own free will. 3 Next he says that Homer represents Zeus as displeased with Ares and saying

Of all the gods who tread the spangled skies,

Thou most unjust, most odious in our eyes!

Inhuman discord is thy dire delight,

The waste of slaughter, and the rage of fight;​10

4 that similarly the wisest of his heroes says

Cursed is the man, and void of law and right,

Unworthy property, unworthy light,

Unfit for public rule, or private care,

That wretch, that monster, who delights in war;​11

5 and that Euripides expresses the same opinion as Homer in these verses:

O Peace, loaded with riches, of the blest

Gods thou art far the loveliest,

So long thou tarriest, I am fain,

And fear lest age o'ertake me ere

I look upon thy features fair

Once again,

See them dancing in a ring,

As they sing,

See the wreaths upon their brows,

As they troop from the carouse.​12

6 In addition to this Hermocrates is made to say that war very much resembles sickness and peace is very like health, for peace restores even the sick  p393 and in war even the healthy perish. 7 In peace again we are told that the old are buried by the young as is natural, while in war it is the reverse, and that above all in war there is no safety even up to the walls, but in peace there is safety as far as the boundaries of the land, and a number of similar things. 9 I wonder what other words or expressions would be used by a boy fresh from the schools and the curious study of memoirs who wished to compose a declamatory essay made up all that was consonant with the character of certain historical personages. The style of it would probably be no other than that of the speech Timaeus puts into the mouth of Hermocrates.

26a And what shall we say again when Timoleon in the same book exhorting the Greeks to do battle with the Carthaginians, almost at the moment that they are about to encounter an enemy largely outnumbering them, first bids them not to consider the numbers of their foes but their cowardice. 2 For, he says, although the whole of Libya is thickly populated and full of men, yet when we wish to convey an impression of solitude we use the proverbial phrase "more desert than Libya," not referring to its solitude but to the cowardice of the inhabitants. 3 "In general," he says, "how can we be afraid of men who having received from nature in distinction from other animals the gift of hands, hold them for the whole of their life idle inside their tunics, 4 and above all wear drawers under their  p395 tunics that they may not even when killed in battle be exposed to the view of their enemies?​13. . . .

26a When Gelo promised to send to the assistance of the Greeks twenty thousand infantry and two hundred warships, if they would grant him the command either on land or at sea, they say that the representatives of Greece sitting in council at Corinth gave a reply to Gelo's envoys which was much to the point. 2 They bade Gelo with his forces come as an auxiliary, but as for the command actual circumstances would of necessity invest the most capable men with it. 3 These are by no means the words of men resting their whole hope on Syracuse, but of men relying on themselves and inviting anyone who wished to do so to join in the contest and win the prize of valour. 4 But Timaeus, in commenting on all this, is so long-winded and so obviously anxious to manifest that Sicily was more important than all the rest of Greece — the events occurring in Sicily being so much more magnificent and more noble than those anywhere else in the world, the sagest of men distinguished for wisdom coming from Sicily and the most capable and wonderful leaders being those from Syracuse — 5 that no boy in a school of rhetoric who is set to write a eulogy of Thersites or a censure of Penelope or anything else of the sort could surpass him in the paradoxes he ventures on.

26c The consequence of this is that, owing to this excessive addiction to paradox, he does not induce  p397 us to consider and compare, but exposes to ridicule the men and the actions he is championing, and comes very near falling into the same vicious habit as those who in the discussions of the Academy have trained themselves in extreme readiness of speech. 2 For some of these philosophers, too, in their effort to puzzle the minds of those with whom they are arguing about the comprehensible and incomprehensible, resort to such paradoxes and are so fertile in inventing plausibilities that they wonder whether or not it is possible for those in Athens to smell eggs being roasted in Ephesus, and are in doubt as to whether all the time they are discussing the matter in the Academy they are not lying in their beds at home and composing this discourse in a dream and not in reality. 3 Consequently from this excessive love of paradox they have brought the whole sect into disrepute, so that people have come to disbelieve in the existence of legitimate subjects of doubt. 4 And apart from their own purposelessness they have implanted such a passion in the minds of our young men, that they never give even a thought to ethical and political questions which really benefit students of philosophy, but spend their lives in the vain effort to invent useless paradoxes.

26d Timaeus and his admirers are in the same case as regards history. For being given to paradox and contentiously defending every statement, he overawes most people by his language, compelling them to belief by the superficial appearance of veracity, while in other cases he invites discussion and seems likely to carry conviction by the proofs he produces. 2 He is most successful in creating the impression when he makes statements about  p399 colonies, the foundation of towns and family history. 3 For here he makes such a fine show owing to his accuracy of statement and the bitter tone in which he confutes others that one would think all writers except himself had dozed over events made mere random shots at what was befalling the world, while he alone had tested the accuracy of everything and submitted to careful scrutiny the various stories in which there is much that is genuine and much that is false. 4 But, as a fact, when those who have made themselves by long study familiar with the earlier part of the work, in which he treats of the subjects I mentioned, have come to rely fully on his excessive professions of accuracy, and when after this someone proves to them that Timaeus is himself guilty of the very faults he bitterly reproaches in others, committing errors such as I have just above exhibited in the cases of the Locrians and others; 5 then, I say, they become the most captious of critics, disposed to contest every statement, difficult to shake; and it is chiefly those who have devoted most labour to the study of his works who profit thus by their reading. 6 Those on the other hand who model themselves on his speeches and in general on his more verbose passages become for the reasons I give above childish, scholastic, and quite unveracious.

26e The systematic part of his history, then, is a tissue of all the faults, most of which I have described. 2 I will now deal with the prime cause of his errors, a cause which most people will not be inclined to admit, but it will be found to be the truest accusation to be brought against him. 3 He seems to me to have acquired both practical experience  p401 and the habit of industrious study of documents, and in fact generally speaking to have approached the task of writing history in a painstaking spirit, but in some matters we know of no author of repute who seems to have been less experienced and less painstaking. 4 What I am saying will be clearer from the following considerations. 27 1 Nature has given us two instruments, as it were,​14 by the aid of which we inform ourselves and inquire about everything. These are hearing and sight, and of the two sight is much more veracious according to Heracleitus. "The eyes are more accurate witnesses than that ears," he says. 2 Now, Timaeus enters on his inquiries by the pleasanter of the two roads, but the inferior one. 3 For he entirely avoids employing his eyes and prefers to employ his ears. Now the knowledge derived from hearing being of two sorts, Timaeus diligently pursued the one, the reading of books, as I have above pointed out, but was very remiss in his use of the other, the interrogation of living witnesses. 4 It is easy enough to perceive what caused him to make this choice. Inquiries from books may be made without any danger or hardship, provided only that one takes care to have access to a town rich in documents or to have a library near at hand. 5 After that one has only to pursue one's researches in perfect repose and compare the accounts of different writers without exposing oneself to any hardship. 6 Personal inquiry, on the contrary, requires severe labour and great expense, but is exceedingly valuable and is the most important part of history. 7 This is  p403 evident from expressions used by historians themselves. Ephorus, for example, says that if we could be personally present at all transactions such knowledge would be far superior to any other. 8 Theopompus says that the man who has the best knowledge of war is he who has been present at the most battles, that most capable speaker is he who has taken part in the greatest number of debates, and that the same holds good about medicine and navigation. 10 Homer has been still more emphatic on this subject than these writers. Wishing to show us what qualities one should possess in order to be a man of action he says:

The man for wisdom's various arts renowned,

Long exercised in woes, O muse, resound,

Wandering from clime to clime;​15

and further on

Observant strayed,

Their manners noted, and their states surveyed:

On stormy seas unnumbered toils he bore;​16

and again —

In scenes of death by tempest and by war.​17a

28 1 It appears to me that the dignity of history also demands such a man. 2 Plato,​17b as we know, tells us that human affairs will then go well when either philosophers become kings or kings study philosophy, 3 and I would say that it will be well with history either when men of action undertake to write history,  p405 4 not as now happens in a perfunctory manner, but when in the belief that this is a most necessary and most noble thing they apply themselves all through their life to it with undivided attention, 5 or again when would‑be authors regard a training in actual affairs as necessary for writing history. Before this be so the errors of historians will never cease. 6 Timaeus never gave a moment's thought to this, but though he spent all his life in exile in one single place, though he almost seems to have deliberately denied himself any active part in war or politics or any personal experience gained by travel and observation, yet, for some unknown reason, he has acquired the reputation of being a leading author. 7 That such is the character of Timaeus can easily be shown from his own avowal. 8 For in the preface to the sixth book he says that some suppose that greater talent, more industry, and more previous training are required for declamatory than for historical writing. Such opinions, he says, formerly incurred Ephorus's disapproval, 9 but as that writer could give no satisfactory answer to those who held them, he himself attempts to institute a comparison between history and declamatory writing, a most surprising thing to do, firstly in that his statement about Ephorus is false. For Ephorus, while throughout his whole work he is admirable in his phraseology, method, and the originality of his thought, is most eloquent in his digressions and in the expression of his personal judgement, whenever, in fact, he allows himself to enlarge on any subject,  p407 11 and it so happens that his remarks on the difference between historians and speech-writers are peculiarly charming and convincing. 12 But Timaeus, in order not to seem to be copying Ephorus, besides making a false statement about him has at the same time condemned all other historians. For dealing with matters, treated by others correctly, at inordinate length, in a confused manner, and in every respect worse, he thinks that not a living soul will notice this.

28a Actually in order to glorify history he says that the difference between it and declamatory writing is as great as that between real buildings or furniture and the views and compositions we see in scene-paintings. 2 In the second place he says that the mere collection of the material required for a history is a more serious task than complete course of study of the art of declamatory speaking. 3 He himself, he tells us, had incurred such expense and been put to so much trouble in collecting his notes from Assyria [?] and inquiring into the manners and customs of the Ligurians, Celts, and Iberians that he could not hope that either his own testimony or that of others to this would be believed. 4 One would like to ask this writer whether he thinks that to sit in town collecting notes and inquiring into the manners and customs of the Ligurians and Celts involves more trouble and expense than an attempt to see the majority of places and peoples with one's own eyes. 5 Which again is most troublesome, to inquire from those present at the engagements the details of battles by land and sea and of sieges, or to be present at the actual scene and experience  p409 oneself the dangers and vicissitudes of battle? 6 In my opinion the difference between real buildings and scene-paintings or between history and declamatory speech-making is not so great as is, in the case of all works, the difference between an account founded on participation, active or passive, in the occurrences one composed from report and the narratives of others. 7 But Timaeus, having no experience of the former proceeding, naturally thinks that what is really of smallest importance and easiest is most important and difficult, I mean the collection of documents and inquiry from those personally acquainted with the facts. 8 And even in this task men of no experience are sure to be frequently deceived. For how is it possible to examine a person properly about a battle, a siege, or a sea-fight, or to understand the details of his narrative, if one has no clear ideas about these matters? 9 For the inquirer contributes to the narrative as much as his informant, since the suggestions of the person who follows the narrative guide the memory of the narrator to each incident, 10 and these are matters in which a man of no experience is neither competent to question those who were present at an action, nor when present himself to understand what is going on, but even if present he is in a sense not present.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 From Athenaeus XIV 651D.

2 The foolish and ignorant hero of the comic epic poem so entitled.

3 From Athenaeus VI 272A.

4 That is, παρέβησαν "violated," the verb being omitted as often in proverbs. See Corp. Paroemiogr.

5 τριόρχης lit. = "very lecherous."

Thayer's Note: Actually, in strict literalness, = "having three testicles": the word was the usual term for a buzzard. Aristotle (Hist. An. VIII.3, IX.1, IX.36) goes along with the Greek word and says that buzzards do actually have three testicles.

6 The last sentence seems to be defective. Shuckburgh translates: "The part of the history therefore which was added by him for the gratification of his personal spite I have passed over, but not what was really germane to his subject." Neither version corresponds exactly to the Greek. — Ed.

7 The reference is to p357, but either the omissions by the epitomator or faults in the text make the passage very obscure.

8 Exception seems to be taken to the phrase "lying under the universe."

9 Something has obviously been omitted by the epitomator.

10 Homer, Iliad, V.890. The translations are Pope's.

11 Homer, Iliad, IX.63.

12 Eurip. frag. 453.

13 Campe proposes to add ἄνδρες ὄντες which gives a better sense: "that it may not be evident to their enemies that they are men."

14 I render ὄργανα "instruments" not "organs" as Polybius justifies his use of the word, which is, however, quite commonly used of the bodily organs by Aristotle.

15 Homer, Od. I.1‑3. The translations are Pope's.

16 Homer, Od. VIII.183.

17a 17b Plato, Rep. V.473C.

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