The Essential Greek Historians

The Essential Greek Historians

The Ancient Greeks produced some of the most detailed, comprehensive, and influential histories the world has ever seen. These historians, who lived between the 5th century BCE and the 3rd century BCE, are responsible for chronicling some of the most significant events of ancient Greek history. Here, we take a look at the essential Greek historians and their contributions to the field of history.

Herodotus

Herodotus is often regarded as the ‘Father of History’. He was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BCE and is known for his work, The Histories. This work is considered to be the first piece of narrative history and is often referred to as a ‘historical epic’. The Histories covers a wide range of topics, including the wars between the Greeks and Persians, the geography of the region, and the customs and beliefs of various cultures. Herodotus was an incredibly important figure in the development of history, and his work is still studied to this day.

Thucydides

Thucydides was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BCE. He is most famous for his work, History of the Peloponnesian War. This work is a detailed and comprehensive account of the long and brutal conflict between the city-states of Athens and Sparta. Thucydides was a meticulous researcher who sought to analyse the events of the war from all angles. His work is renowned for its level of detail and for its often unbiased and balanced approach. Thucydides’ work has had a huge impact on the field of history and is still studied to this day.

Xenophon

Xenophon was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BCE. He is most famous for his work, The Anabasis. This work is an account of the military campaigns of Cyrus the Younger and the Ten Thousand. Xenophon was an eyewitness to many of the events he wrote about and his work is renowned for its vivid and detailed descriptions. He was also a keen observer of the people, customs, and cultures he encountered. Xenophon’s work has been highly influential and is still studied to this day.

Theopompus

Theopompus was a Greek historian who lived in the 4th century BCE. He is most famous for his work, The Histories. This work is a detailed and comprehensive account of the history of Greece, spanning from the time of Heracles to the death of Alexander the Great. Theopompus was an incredibly thorough researcher and his work is renowned for its level of detail and accuracy. Theopompus was an important figure in the development of history and his work is still studied to this day.

Diodorus Siculus

Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who lived in the 1st century BCE. He is most famous for his work, The Historical Library. This work is a comprehensive account of the history of the ancient world, from the time of Heracles to the death of Caesar. Diodorus was a meticulous researcher who sought to analyse the events of the past from all angles. His work is renowned for its level of detail and for its often unbiased and balanced approach. Diodorus’ work has had a huge impact on the field of history and is still studied to this day.

Polybius

Polybius was a Greek historian who lived in the 2nd century BCE. He is most famous for his work, The Histories. This work is a detailed and comprehensive account of the history of the Mediterranean region, from the time of the Greco-Persian wars to the rise of Rome. Polybius was a meticulous researcher and his work is renowned for its level of detail and accuracy. Polybius was an important figure in the development of history and his work is still studied to this day.

Strabo

Strabo was a Greek historian who lived in the 1st century BCE. He is most famous for his work, Geographica. This work is a comprehensive account of the geography of the ancient world, from the time of Heracles to the death of Caesar. Strabo was a meticulous researcher who sought to analyse the geography of the past from all angles. His work is renowned for its level of detail and for its often unbiased and balanced approach. Strabo’s work has had a huge impact on the field of geography and is still studied to this day.

Plutarch

Plutarch was a Greek historian who lived in the 1st century CE. He is most famous for his work, Parallel Lives. This work is a collection of biographies of famous Greeks and Romans, arranged in a parallel format. Plutarch was a meticulous researcher who sought to analyse the lives of the famous figures he wrote about from all angles. His work is renowned for its level of detail and for its often unbiased and balanced approach. Plutarch’s work has had a huge impact on the field of biography and is still studied to this day.

Arrian

Arrian was a Greek historian who lived in the 2nd century CE. He is most famous for his work, Anabasis of Alexander. This work is an account of the military campaigns of Alexander the Great. Arrian was a meticulous researcher who sought to analyse the events of the campaigns from all angles. His work is renowned for its level of detail and for its often unbiased and balanced approach. Arrian’s work has had a huge impact on the field of military history and is still studied to this day.

Conclusion

The essential Greek historians have had a huge impact on the field of history. From Herodotus to Arrian, these historians have provided us with a detailed and comprehensive account of the history of the ancient world. They have also helped to shape the way we think about and study history. Their works are still studied to this day and will continue to be studied for many years to come.

Since the dawn of recorded history, Greek historians have come to form an important cornerstone of our collective understanding of the ancient world. From the dawn of the Classical Age (800-323 BC) to the first century AD, few societies have had a more lasting or profound influence on our culture than the Greeks.

The first great historians were Herodotus and Thucydides, from the 5th century BC. Herodotus is sometimes referred to as the ‘Father of History’. He is remembered for his groundbreaking work, The Histories, which is considered to be one of the first comprehensive surveys of the past. Herodotus extensively mined multiple sources for information and built narrative accounts around them. Similarly, Thucydides, a 4th-century historian, was celebrated for his exacting record of the Peloponnesian War.

Throughout the Classical age, other important historians followed in the footsteps of the pioneering work of these great men. Among the most significant of these later writers were Xenophon, Polybius and Diodorus Siculus. Xenophon was remembered for his accounts of the Greek mercantile empire and the lives of the mercenary soldiers. He popularized the genre of biographical histories, a form widely adopted by later writers. Polybius, a younger man, wrote a comprehensive history of the Roman Republic known as The Histories. His work combines a deep appreciation for military, social and political history in a single account.

Meanwhile, Diodorus Siculus is celebrated for his Bibliotheca Historia (The Historical Library). This was a sweeping survey of the Greek and near Eastern world from creation to Julius Caesar. Diodorus successfully brought together the surviving works of other historians, providing us with a valuable source of information about the ancient civilizations.

Later historians, such as Plutarch and Strabo, were also very important to our understanding of the past. Plutarch’s Lives and Moralia compiled biographies of the leading men of both Greek and Roman society. Strabo’s Geographica was significant for its detailed maps and data, which give us a great overview of the known world of the time.

In summing up, it is impossible to overstate the importance of the works of these Greek historians. Not only did they provide us with an invaluable record of the classical worlds, but their writings continue to inspire and inform modern scholarship.

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