Between Thucydides and Polybius: The Golden Age of Greek Historiography

  Parmegianni, Giovanni. 2014. Between Thucydides and Polybius: The Golden Age of Greek Historiography. Hellenic Studies Series 64. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies.

8. Ephorus, Polybius, and τὰ καθόλου γράφειν: Why and How to Read Ephorus and his Role in Greek Historiography without Reference to ‘Universal History’ [1]

John Tully

I would be making the understatement of the century if I were to say that universal history has never been a clear notion.

Momigliano 1982:533

Ephorus, an utterly thoughtless writer, has at best the doubtful merit of having been the first to compose a Universal History [. . .].

von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff 1908:10

Here, I argue that these claims are flawed: no ancient author approached Ephorus as a practitioner of a specific sub-genre of History which they shared to the exclusion of other contemporary approaches to history, let alone as a ‘Universal Historian’ in any of the senses in which the phrase has been understood in modern scholarship. The innovative nature of Ephorus’ history made him and it important in the later tradition, and encouraged later historiographers to express their own necessarily unique and superior historiographical purpose with reference to him and it. Ephorus was, however, but one of many foils to that end, including Herodotus, Timaeus, and many others. The surviving evidence does not justify the wide-spread modern suggestions that Ephorus was attempting ‘Universal History’ with its associated implication of rupture in the historiographical tradition between Ephorus and his predecessors. It instead confirms that Ephorus’ work, like that of all Greek historiographers, offered a distinctive personal vision reflecting his time, and his interests, and that it {155|156} was predicated, as all Greek historiography was, on a rich engagement with his predecessors.

As this passage is so central to the historiographical debate, I do not immediately offer a fresh interpretation. Instead, I analyse other important passages, principally from Diodorus, and argue that these approach Ephorus’ history as part of a broad tradition, not as a point of rupture and generic innovation. Only then do I reanalyse Polybius 5.33.1-5. I first argue that Polybius’ concern here was perspective as revealed by a work’s structure, not coverage, and that such a reading is more consistent with Polybius’ approach elsewhere. I next demonstrate that τὰ καθόλου γράφειν does not represent an independent genre for Polybius, let alone his historiographical ideal. Instead, it refers to but one of many skills required of the model historiographer. This analysis cumulatively confirms that there was no place for ‘Universal History’ in ancient historiographical analysis of Ephorus.

In the next section, I illustrate the advantages of this alternative approach to Ephorus without reference to ‘Universal History’ and the inherent presupposition of rupture between the fifth-century and the fourth-century historiographers. In particular, I support suggestions that Ephorus’ history was meaningfully structured around the Return of Heraclidae. This conclusion calls into question earlier depictions of Ephorus as a detached ‘armchair historian’. More critically in this context, however, it also explains without reference to generic similarity or to ‘Universal History’ why Polybius chose Ephorus as the {156|157} historiographer who came closest to Polybius’ own perfection, specifically with regard to his ability τὰ καθόλου γράφειν. On this analysis, Polybius 5.33.1–5 and Polybius’ relationship to Ephorus become another powerful example of the importance of Polybius’ own Achaean heritage to his historiographical analysis and judgment. They tells us nothing, however, about Ephorus’ generic innovation relative to his predecessors.

In concluding, I briefly turn to those later historiographers, such as Diodorus, who can justifiably be considered as writing something approximating to the modern concept of ‘Universal History’. I consider how this reinterpretation of Ephorus’ connection with ‘Universal History’, and of the role of genre more generally, affects scholars’ approaches to those historiographers, and argue that it supports recent positive reappraisals of their work: all histories reflected unique combinations of political and social realities of their day, and the particular interests and approaches of the historiographers involved, just as the histories of the fifth century have long been recognized to have done. With the more open perspective advocated here, scholars can better appreciate this diversity, not least though greater awareness of the continuities, as well as the differences, between fifth- and fourth-century historiography.

1. ‘Universal History’ in Greek Historiography

Such definitions have not been the norm, however, in large part owing to the continuing influence of Jacoby’s monumental Fragmente der griechischen Historiker (FGH). [10] For Jacoby, Ephorus’ work was “the first real ‘Universal History’” (“die erste wirkliche universalgeschichte”), precisely because he discussed the internal and external history of the Greek people as a whole in the motherland and the colonies. Ephorus did, in addition, deal with non-Greeks in so far as they came into contact with the Greeks, but Jacoby was explicit that he did not understand Ephorus as examining non-Greeks in their own right: [11] Ephorus’ history was ‘universal’ because it covered all of Greece, rather than only one part, and not because it was global, as opposed perhaps to ‘national’. Jacoby’s discussion of Ephorus’ history makes it clear, moreover, how he envisaged Ephorus’ history differing from those of Herodotus and Thucydides. Jacoby recognised that Herodotus and Thucydides discussed events ranging across the Greek world and beyond, and events throughout history, but these descriptions were always subordinate to their primary narratives, which were the invasions of Darius and Xerxes, and the Peloponnesian War: Herodotus may have written six books of Persian history, but these were only the introduction to his description of the Persian War. [12] Ephorus’ structure was quite different, narrating a chronologically and geographically broader range of events in the main narrative.

Despite its problems, Jacoby’s circumscribed definition of ‘Universal History’, and his attempt to equate it to terms involved in ancient historiographical discourse have been fundamental to most interpretations attempted during the past one hundred years. The ongoing dominance of Jacoby’s definition and work clarifies why some scholars still feel justified in referring to Ephorus as a ‘Universal Historian’ without further explanation, or with reference purely to the chronological bounds of his history. The power and range of Jacoby’s argument regarding the equation of the modern and ancient historiographical discourses similarly explains why even recent scholars with very different methodological approaches from Jacoby choose to sidestep his generic equation by reference to ‘general history’ without addressing the more fundamental paradox involved in Jacoby’s view, or feel it meaningful to use such oxymoronic phrases as ‘universal history of the Mediterranean’ or ‘universal history of Greece’. There is widespread awareness of the difficulties involved in equating our modern views of ‘Universal History’ with the ancient discussions regarding τὰ καθόλου γράφειν, τὰς κοινὰς πράξεις, and other similar phrases. [17] {159|160} Nevertheless, in the end, the validity of our modern generic concerns in understanding the ancient discourse is not questioned: that it is meaningful, under some definition of ‘Universal History’, to call Ephorus a ‘Universal Historian’, or to state that Ephorus was perceived by later Greek historians to have been the first to attempt to write ‘Universal History’, has been the common presupposition of work on Greek historiography for more than a century, even though our methodological approaches to Ephorus and other fragmentary historians have radically shifted.

2. Ephorus and his ‘Cover-Texts’

As with most ancient Greek historians, we do not possess a direct manuscript tradition for Ephorus’ history. Instead, our evidence is indirect, through ‘cover-texts’ in authors referring to Ephorus, which have been traditionally divided into testimonia and fragmenta. [18] Many decades of Quellenforschung have been devoted to identifying these ‘cover-texts’, to analysing the nature of the relationship between the authors involved, and to drawing conclusions about the nature of Ephorus’ life and his works. More recent work, however, tends to shy away from some of the more confident conclusions drawn in the past. The problematic and multifaceted nature of the relationships underlying ‘cover-texts’ is instead now emphasised. In particular, earlier notions of later authors mindlessly copying out extensive sections of the work of their sources have largely been abandoned. [19] Not only is there ever increasing emphasis on the partial and potentially misleading nature of even the shortest ‘cover-text’, [20] but more sophisticated analyses of ancient rhetorical and historiographical practices have reduced the willingness of scholars to take the statements offered as part {160|161} of ancient discourses at face value. [21] Thus, the tradition connecting Ephorus and Theopompus with Isocrates is now more commonly understood as arising out of perceived stylistic similarities rather than an actual biographical link. [22] As a result, however, both the sheer quantity of individual fragmentary authors’ works known to modern scholarship, and the extent of our knowledge of those works have, paradoxically, not grown, but shrunk.

3. ‘Universal History’ Deconstructed

The difficulties of insisting on ‘Universal History’ as an active generic concept with regard to Ephorus are clear in the analysis of a passage either explicitly cited or closely paraphrased in all the discussions above mentioned. It is the only passage considered to support an awareness of Ephorus as the first ‘Universal Historian’. This passage is Polybius’ statement involving Ephorus being τὸν πρῶτον καὶ μόνον ἐπιβεβλημένον τὰ καθόλου γράφειν.

Καίτοι γ’ οὐκ ἀγνοῶ διότι καὶ πλείους ἕτεροι τῶν συγγραφέων τὴν αὐτὴν ἐμοὶ προεῖνται φωνήν, φάσκοντες τὰ καθόλου γράφειν καὶ μεγίστην τῶν προγεγονότων ἐπιβεβλῆσθαι πραγματείαν• (2) περὶ ὧν ἐγώ, παραιτησάμενος Ἔφορον τὸν πρῶτον καὶ μόνον ἐπιβεβλημένον τὰ καθόλου γράφειν, τὸ μὲν πλείω λέγειν ἢ μνημονεύειν τινὸς τῶν ἄλλων ἐπ’ὀνόματος παρήσω, (3) μέχρι δὲ τούτου μνησθήσομαι, διότι τῶν καθ’ ἡμᾶς τινες γραφόντων ἱστορίαν ἐν τρισὶν ἢ τέτταρσιν ἐξηγησάμενοι σελίσιν ἡμῖν τὸν Ῥωμαίων καὶ Καρχηδονίων πόλεμον φασὶ τὰ καθόλου γράφειν. (4) καίτοι διότι πλεῖσται μὲν καὶ μέγισται τότε περί τε τὴν Ἰβηρίαν καὶ Λιβύην, ἔτι δὲ τὴν Σικελίαν καὶ Ἰταλίαν ἐπετελέσθησαν πράξεις, ἐπιφανέστατος δὲ καὶ πολυχρονιώτατος ὁ κατ’ Ἀννίβαν πόλεμος γέγονε πλὴν τοῦ περὶ Σικελίαν, πάντες δ’ἠναγκάσθημεν πρὸς αὐτὸν ἀποβλέπειν διὰ τὸ μέγεθος, δεδιότες τὴν συντέλειαν τῶν ἀποβησομένων, τίς οὕτως ἐστὶν ἀδαὴς ὃς οὐκ οἶδεν; (5) ἀλλ’ ἔνιοι τῶν πραγματευομένων οὐδ’ ἐφ’ ὅσον οἱ τὰ κατὰ καιροὺς ἐν ταῖς χρονογραφίαις ὑπομνηματιζόμενοι πολιτικῶς εἰς τοὺς τοίχους, οὐδ’ ἐπὶ τοσοῦτο μνησθέντες, πάσας φασὶ τὰς κατὰ τὴν Ἑλλάδα καὶ βάρβαρον περιειληφέναι πράξεις.

I am not indeed unaware that several other writers make the same boast as myself, that they write general history (τὰ καθόλου γράφειν) and have undertaken a vaster task than any predecessor. (2) Now, while paying all due deference to Ephorus, the first and only writer who really undertook a general history, I will avoid criticizing at length or mentioning by name any of the others, (3) and will simply say this much, that certain writers of history in my own times after giving an account of the war between Rome and Carthage in three or four pages, maintain that they write universal history. (4) Yet no one is so ignorant as not to know that many actions of the highest importance were accomplished then in Spain, Africa, Italy, and Sicily, that the war with Hannibal was the most celebrated and longest of wars if we except that for Sicily, and that we in Greece were all obliged to fix our eyes on it, {162|163} dreading the results that would follow. (5) But some of those who treat of it, after giving a slighter sketch of it even than those who on public authority set up memoranda of occasional happenings in chronological sequence, claim to have comprised in their work all events in Greece and abroad.

Polybius’ statement hinges on the equivalence between his history and Ephorus’ history: they both make the same boast (τὴν αὐτὴν φωνήν), that is, τὰ καθόλου γράφειν. Nevertheless, this fundamental correspondence has been queried, because, as Polybius frequently reminds us, his history involves explaining

πῶς καὶ τίνι γένει πολιτείας ἐπικρατηθέντα σχεδὸν ἅπαντα τὰ κατὰ τὴν οἰκουμένην οὐχ ὅλοις πεντήκοντα καὶ τρισὶν ἔτεσιν ὑπὸ μίαν ἀρχὴν ἔπεσε τὴν Ῥωμαίων, ὃ πρότερον οὐχ εὑρίσκεται γεγονός

by what means and under what system of polity the Romans in less than fifty-three years have succeeded in subjecting nearly the whole inhabited world to their sole government—a thing unique in history (Translation by E. S. Shuckburgh)

This master narrative only covers just over one hundred years, 264-146, even including the preliminary material covered in Polybius’ first two books (the προκατασκευή), and the extension to include events down to the aftermath of the sack of Corinth in 146. That Polybius’ own chronological coverage is so narrow has caused concern about how Polybius could equate his history with Ephorus’ work, which covered, on modern ‘calculations’, approximately 750 years. [

Third and most significantly, the point on which Polybius’ statement turns is precisely that Ephorus made the attempt to do the same as he, τὰ καθόλου γράφειν, when others had not, despite their claims to the contrary. We have no other evidence that insists on such a unique connection between Polybius and Ephorus. Thus, to assume the existence of ‘Universal History’ as the independent constant uniting both Polybius and Ephorus, while at the same time denying the merits of the only statement on which that equivalence is based, and arguing that, in fact, two separate constants are involved, is to beg the question. If Sacks or Scafuro is right, and Polybius is engaging in rhetorically dubious practice here in equating two genres or historiographical approaches which were in reality distinct, it is entirely unclear why we or indeed any other Greek historiographer should be expected to accept Polybius’ equation of their approaches!

If there were other evidence supporting the connection specifically between Ephorus and Polybius, this insistence might be justified. As it is, the restricted nature of these reinterpretations is more likely the result of the shadow of Jacoby continuing to influence analysis even as scholars seek to move beyond his paradigm. Given the strongly rhetorical context, the incomplete nature of these analyses, and the uncharacteristic concern for duration they involve, they are better set aside, and a fresh reading that takes greater account of the immediate and general historiographical context attempted. On account of the central role this passage has played in the debate, however, I first establish a frame for this re-interpretation by considering other ‘cover-texts’, most notably, those of Diodorus, that illuminate our understanding of Ephorus’ position in the Greek historiographical tradition. Only then do I return to this passage.

4. Diodorus and ‘Universal History’

Diodorus’ perception of the earlier tradition is particularly important because he did claim to have written a history of the entire world, which scholars can unproblematically classify as a ‘Universal History’. [33] As such, it might be expected that ‘Universal History’ would be an important factor in his self-representation and self-positioning relative to his predecessors. This is not quite the case. {165|166}

κειμένης γὰρ τοῖς ἀναγινώσκουσι τῆς ὠφελείας ἐν τῷ πλείστας καὶ ποικιλωτάτας περιστάσεις λαμβάνειν, οἱ πλεῖστοι μὲν ἑνὸς ἔθνους ἢ μιᾶς πόλεως αὐτοτελεῖς πολέμους ἀνέγραψαν, ὀλίγοι δ’ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀρχαίων χρόνων ἀρξάμενοι τὰς κοινὰς πράξεις ἐπεχείρησαν ἀναγράφειν μέχρι τῶν καθ’ αὑτοὺς καιρῶν, καὶ τούτων οἱ μὲν τοὺς οἰκείους χρόνους ἑκάστοις οὐ παρέζευξαν, οἱ δὲ τὰς τῶν βαρβάρων πράξεις ὑπερέβησαν, ἔτι δ’ οἱ μὲν τὰς παλαιὰς μυθολογίας διὰ τὴν δυσχέρειαν τῆς πραγματείας ἀπεδοκίμασαν, οἱ δὲ τὴν ὑπόστασιν τῆς ἐπιβολῆς οὐ συνετέλεσαν, μεσολαβηθέντες τὸν βίον ὑπὸ τῆς πεπρωμένης.

For although the profit which history affords its readers lies in its embracing a vast number and variety of circumstances, yet most writers have recorded no more than isolated wars waged by a single nation or a single state, and but few have undertaken, beginning with the earliest times and coming down to their own day, to record the events connected with all peoples; and of the latter, some have not attached to the several events their own proper dates, and others have passed over the deeds of barbarian peoples; and some, again, have rejected the ancient legends because of the difficulties involved in their treatment, while others have failed to complete the plan to which they had set their hand, their lives having been cut short by fate. (Translation by C. H. Oldfather)

Diodorus 1.3.2

Diodorus’ evaluations of his predecessors can be read as explanations of how his predecessors failed to write ‘Universal History’, because the ideal of history presented by Diodorus and manifested in his work insofar as it survives equates to the modern notion of ‘Universal History’: by Diodorus’ logic and utilitarian purpose, the best history was one that involved the most exempla, and so the broadest chronological and geographical range. Nevertheless, there is one crucial difference: Diodorus had no notion of such a project as a separate genre or type of historiography: it was the pinnacle of the entire historiographical enterprise. This ideal was also represented by Diodorus’ history alone: from Diodorus’ perspective, there was no other ‘Universal History’. This was not a generic argument, but much more self-serving, emphasising how Diodorus’ history was necessarily unsurpassed and unsurpassable as an example of historical narrative as a whole: all other histories were ultimately failed attempts to achieve what Diodorus’ history embodied.

An awareness of this broader context has to inform our understanding of Diodorus’ discussions of Ephorus, such as in the prologue to book five: {166|167}

Πάντων μὲν τῶν ἐν ταῖς ἀναγραφαῖς χρησίμων προνοητέον τοὺς ἱστορίαν συνταττομένους, μάλιστα δὲ τῆς κατὰ μέρος οἰκονομίας. αὕτη γὰρ οὐ μόνον ἐν τοῖς ἰδιωτικοῖς βίοις πολλὰ συμβάλλεται πρὸς διαμονὴν καὶ αὔξησιν τῆς οὐσίας, ἀλλὰ καὶ κατὰ τὰς ἱστορίας οὐκ ὀλίγα ποιεῖ προτερήματα τοῖς συγγραφεῦσιν. (2) ἔνιοι δὲ καὶ κατὰ τὴν λέξιν καὶ κατὰ τὴν πολυπειρίαν τῶν ἀναγραφομένων πράξεων ἐπαινούμενοι δικαίως, ἐν τῷ κατὰ τὴν οἰκονομίαν χειρισμῷ διήμαρτον, ὥστε τοὺς μὲν πόνους καὶ τὴν ἐπιμέλειαν αὐτῶν ἀποδοχῆς τυγχάνειν παρὰ τοῖς ἀναγινώσκουσι, τὴν δὲ τάξιν τῶν ἀναγεγραμμένων δικαίας τυγχάνειν ἐπιτιμήσεως. (3) Τίμαιος μὲν οὖν μεγίστην πρόνοιαν πεποιημένος τῆς τῶν χρόνων ἀκριβείας καὶ τῆς πολυπειρίας πεφροντικώς, διὰ ἀκριβείας καὶ τῆς πολυπειρίας πεφροντικώς, διὰ τὰς ἀκαίρους καὶ μακρὰς ἐπιτιμήσεις εὐλόγως διαβάλλεται, καὶ διὰ τὴν ὑπερβολὴν τῆς ἐπιτιμήσεως Ἐπιτίμαιος ὑπό τινων ὠνομάσθη. (4) ῎Εφορος δὲ τὰς κοινὰς πράξεις ἀναγράφων οὐ μόνον κατὰ τὴν λέξιν, ἀλλὰ καὶ κατὰ τὴν οἰκονομίαν ἐπιτέτευχε· τῶν γὰρ βίβλων ἑκάστην πεποίηκε περιέχειν κατὰ γένος τὰς πράξεις. διόπερ καὶ ἡμεῖς τοῦτο τὸ γένος τοῦ χειρισμοῦ προκρίναντες κατὰ τὸ δυνατὸν ἀντεχόμεθα ταύτης τῆς προαιρέσεως.

It should be the special care of historians, when they compose their works, to give attention to everything which may be of utility, and especially to the arrangement of the varied material they present. This eye to arrangement, for instance, is not only of great help to persons in the disposition of their private affairs if they would preserve and increase their property, but also, when men come to writing history, it offers them not a few advantages. (2) Some historians indeed, although they are worthy objects of praise in the matter of style and in the breadth of experience derived from the events which they record, have nevertheless fallen short in respect of the way in which they have handled the matter of arrangement, with the result that, whereas the effort and care which they expended receive the approbation of their readers, yet the order which they gave to the material they have recorded is the object of just censure. (3) Timaeus, for example, bestowed, it is true, the greatest attention upon the precision of his chronology and had due regard for the breadth of knowledge gained through experience, but he is criticized with good reason for his untimely and lengthy censures, and because of the excess to which he went in censuring he has been given by some men the name Epitimaeus or Censurer. (4) Ephorus, on the other hand, in the universal history which he composed (τὰς κοινὰς πράξεις ἀναγράφων) has achieved success, not alone in the style {167|168} of his composition, but also as regards the arrangement of his work; for each one of his Books is so constructed as to embrace events which fall under a single topic. Consequently we also have given our preference to this method of handling our material, and, insofar as it is possible, are adhering to this general principle. (Translation by C. H. Oldfather)

Diodorus 5.1.1–4 (including Ephorus FGH 70 T 11)

Diodorus’ focus is again here very broad. He is not offering his discussion as an analysis of the methodology of ‘Universal History’, but of historiography as a whole: all historiographers should take account of the utility and arrangement of their work, not a specific sub-group. In keeping with this approach, his selection of successful and less successful approaches to historiography is noteworthy: Ephorus, and Timaeus. This selection makes no sense if Diodorus is meaning solely to discuss ‘Universal History’: Timaeus’ history, so far as we can reconstruct it, discussed Italy and Sicily; it was not ‘Universal History’. [34] Ephorus’ history seems similarly excluded from consideration as a ‘Universal History’ by Diodorus’ statement in the previous passage censuring a range of predecessors: there, he specifically criticises those who had rejected the ancient legends (τὰς παλαιὰς μυθολογίας). One such historian, according to Diodorus using the very same words (τὰς . . . παλαιὰς μυθολογίας) in the prologue to his first book, was Ephorus himself:

διόπερ τῶν μεταγενεστέρων ἱστοριογράφων οἱ πρωτεύοντες τῆι δόξηι τῆς μὲν ἀρχαίας μυθολογίας ἀπέστησαν διὰ τὴν δυσχέρειαν, τὰς δὲ νεωτέρας πράξεις ἀναγράφειν ἐπεχείρησαν. (3) Ἔφορος μὲν γὰρ ὁ Κυμαῖος, ᾽Ισοκράτους ὢν μαθητής, ὑποστησάμενος γράφειν τὰς κοινὰς πράξεις, τὰς μὲν παλαιὰς μυθολογίας ὑπερέβη, τὰ δ᾽ ἀπὸ τῆς ῾Ηρακλειδῶν καθόδου πραχθέντα συνταξάμενος ταύτην ἀρχὴν ἐποιήσατο τῆς ἱστορίας.

For these reasons the writers of greatest reputation among the later historians have stood aloof from the narration of the ancient mythology because of its difficulty, and have undertaken to record only the more recent events. (3) Ephorus of Cymê, for instance, a pupil of Isocrates, when he undertook to write his universal history (ὑποστησάμενος γράφειν τὰς κοινὰς πράξεις), passed over the tales of the old mythology and commenced his history with a narration of the events which took place after the Return of the Heraclidae. (Translation by C. H. Oldfather)

Diodorus 4.1.2–3 (Ephorus FGH 70 T 8) {168|169}

In this passage, Diodorus is using Ephorus’ work as an example of his point that writers of great reputation had only discussed “the more recent events” (τὰς δὲ νεωτέρας πράξεις). For Diodorus nonetheless to be calling Ephorus’ subject a ‘Universal History’ when he refers to Ephorus as ὑποστησάμενος γράφειν τὰς κοινὰς πράξεις would be highly paradoxical. The rhetorical thrust of this passage is precisely the reverse!

I prefer an alternative interpretation. To understand what the force of Diodorus’ description of Ephorus’ subject as τὰς κοινὰς πράξεις in these last two passages is, I instead compare it with Diodorus’ elaboration of the content of τὰς κοινὰς πράξεις in his introduction, the first passage from Diodorus considered above. [35] There, Diodorus establishes a contrast between those writing τὰς κοινὰς πράξεις and narratives treating the isolated wars of a single nation or a single state (ἑνὸς ἔθνους ἢ μιᾶς πόλεως αὐτοτελεῖς πολέμους). This contrast immediately suggests that τὰς κοινὰς πράξεις is rather a broad notion, without a constraint requiring geographical or chronological universality. This suggestion is confirmed by the continuation, where Diodorus emphasizes that writers of τὰς κοινὰς πράξεις did not necessarily discuss the deeds of non-Greeks. The contrast here is not between universal and non-universal subjects but much looser, in keeping with the more open literal meaning of the phrase. Even a contrast between ‘international history’ and ‘polis-focused’ or monographic history does not capture the force, not least because of the generic and specifically Jacobean implications involved in those terms. Instead, a more flexible translation is needed to match Diodorus’ more flexible concept: to understand τὰς κοινὰς πράξεις as ‘shared deeds’ or ‘common affairs’ expresses this flexibility much better than ‘Universal History’, ‘worldwide events’, or ‘world events’. Such translations read too much of Diodorus’ own declared theme and aspiration, and of modern scholarly presuppositions, into this phrase. [36] {169|170}

I further support this more nuanced reading of τὰς κοινὰς πράξεις, and of Diodorus’ approach to Ephorus, by comparing Diodorus’ statements about Ephorus with his description of Herodotus’ history:

τῶν δὲ συγγραφέων Ἡρόδοτος ἀρξάμενος πρὸ τῶν Τρωικῶν χρόνων γέγραφε κοινὰς σχεδόν τι τὰς τῆς οἰκουμένης πράξεις ἐν βίβλοις ἐννέα, καταστρέφει δὲ τὴν σύνταξιν εἰς τὴν περὶ Μυκάλην μάχην τοῖς Ἕλλησι πρὸς τοὺς Πέρσας καὶ Σηστοῦ πολιορκίαν.

And of the historians, Herodotus, beginning with the period prior to the Trojan war, has written in nine books a general history of practically all the events which occurred in the inhabited world, and brings his narrative to an end with the battle of the Greeks against the Persians at Mycalê and the siege of Sestus. (Translation by C. H. Oldfather)

Diodorus 11.37.6

There is no suggestion here that Ephorus’ history marked a radical departure from Herodotus’ practice; quite the reverse. Where Ephorus’ history had started in Diodorus’ eyes with the return of the Heraclidae, Herodotus’ work commenced still earlier: before the Trojan War. Given Herodotus’ ultimate focus on the wars of 481–479, Diodorus’ description of Herodotus’ history may seem paradoxical, but it would be unwise to dismiss it as somehow invalid. [
37] Diodorus is in good company: his approach is in keeping both with the prologue Herodotus wrote to his own work, and the description offered of Herodotus’ history by Dionysius of Halicarnassus. Herodotus wrote his history

ὡς μήτε τὰ γενόμενα ἐξ ἀνθρώπων τῷ χρόνῳ ἐξίτηλα γένηται, μήτε ἔργα μεγάλα τε καὶ θωμαστά, τὰ μὲν Ἕλλησι, τὰ δὲ βαρβάροισι ἀποδεχθέντα, ἀκλέα γένηται, τά τε ἄλλα καὶ δι᾽ ἣν αἰτίην ἐπολέμησαν ἀλλήλοισι.

so that things done by man not be forgotten in time, and that great and marvelous deeds, some displayed by the Hellenes, some by the barbarians, not lose their glory, including among others what was the cause of their waging war on each other. (Translation by A. D. Godley)

Herodotus praefatio {170|171}

According to Dionysius,

ἐκεῖνος μὲν γὰρ κοινὴν Ἑλληνικῶν τε καὶ βαρβαρικῶν πράξεων ἐξενήνοχεν ἱστορίαν, ‘ὡς μήτε τὰ γενόμενα ἐξ ἀνθρώπων ἐξίτηλα γένηται, μήτε ἔργα’ . . . καὶ ἅπερ αὐτὸς εἴρηκε. τὸ γὰρ αὐτὸ προοίμιον καὶ ἀρχὴ καὶ τέλος ἐστὶ τῆς ἱστορίας.

He [Herodotus] has produced a national history of the conflict of Greeks and barbarians, ‘in order that neither should the deeds of men fade into oblivion, nor should achievements,’ to quote from his opening words. For this same proem forms both the beginning and the end of his History. (Translation by S. Usher)

Dionysius of Halicarnassus Letter to Pompey 3.3

It would perhaps be unwise to place too much weight on Dionysius’ quotation of just the first half of Herodotus’ self-description, excluding mention of the cause of the war. Nevertheless, the emphasis of these descriptions reminds us how different ancient perceptions of even famous works we think we know well may have been. [
38] They also support Diodorus’ emphasis on continuity between Ephorus and Herodotus: it is not self-evident that Diodorus’ and Dionysius’ descriptions of Herodotus and Ephorus show an active concern for genre, let alone that they mask an awareness of a significant shift in historiographical approach in the fourth century that could elsewhere have been conceived as equating to a different genre. Development and evolution, not disjunction and revolution, best summarise their approach to Ephorus and his position in the wider historiographical tradition. [39]

5. Polybius and ‘Universal History’

Simply to mention the war is not enough. The brevity of these historians’ descriptions indicates, to Polybius’ eyes, that they do not correctly identify the significance of the events they are narrating. In short, it is a matter of an appropriate balance and perspective, not of chronological or geographical coverage—and so, by implication, is Polybius’ associated praise of Ephorus. Polybius is acclaiming Ephorus not as the only historian who has truly covered a broad chronological span, or a broad geographical area, or even as the only historian (prior to himself) who has chosen an appropriate synthetic theme; instead, he is the only historian before Polybius himself who has even come close to producing a work which involves a balanced overarching perspective for each aspect of his history. For Polybius, this is not a question of ‘Universal History’; indeed, Ephorus’ genre is strictly irrelevant.

This reading is strikingly different from the approach that has been common in previous scholarship. It is, however, much more in keeping with Polybius’ historiographical concerns elsewhere: a concern for overall balance and perspective, not extent of coverage, is Polybius’ prime thrust. A particularly clear example is the extended analogy right at the start of book one, a prominent and programmatic location, between the inadequacies of an examination of the different separated parts of an animal, and the reading τῆς κατὰ μέρος ἱστορίας:

καθόλου μὲν γὰρ ἔμοιγε δοκοῦσιν οἱ πεπεισμένοι διὰ τῆς κατὰ μέρος ἱστορίας μετρίως συνόψεσθαι τὰ ὅλα παραπλήσιόν τι πάσχειν, ὡς ἂν εἴ τινες ἐμψύχου καὶ καλοῦ σώματος γεγονότος διερριμμένα τὰ μέρη θεώμενοι νομίζοιεν ἱκανῶς αὐτόπται γίνεσθαι τῆς ἐνεργείας αὐτοῦ τοῦ ζῴου καὶ καλλονῆς. (8) εἰ γάρ τις αὐτίκα μάλα συνθεὶς καὶ τέλειον αὖθις ἀπεργασάμενος τὸ ζῷον τῷ τ’ εἴδει καὶ τῇ τῆς ψυχῆς εὐπρεπείᾳ κἄπειτα πάλιν ἐπιδεικνύοι τοῖς αὐτοῖς ἐκείνοις, ταχέως ἂν οἶμαι πάντας αὐτοὺς ὁμολογήσειν διότι καὶ λίαν πολύ τι τῆς ἀληθείας ἀπελείποντο πρόσθεν καὶ παραπλήσιοι τοῖς ὀνειρώττουσιν ἦσαν. (9) ἔννοιαν μὲν γὰρ λαβεῖν ἀπὸ μέρους τῶν ὅλων δυνατόν, ἐπιστήμην δὲ καὶ γνώμην ἀτρεκῆ σχεῖν ἀδύνατον. (10) διὸ παντελῶς βραχύ τι νομιστέον συμβάλλεσθαι τὴν κατὰ μέρος ἱστορίαν πρὸς τὴν τῶν ὅλων ἐμπειρίαν καὶ πίστιν. (11) {172|173} ἐκ μέντοι γε τῆς ἁπάντων πρὸς ἄλληλα συμπλοκῆς καὶ παραθέσεως, ἔτι δ’ ὁμοιότητος καὶ διαφορᾶς, μόνως ἄν τις ἐφίκοιτο καὶ δυνηθείη κατοπτεύσας ἅμα καὶ τὸ χρήσιμον καὶ τὸ τερπνὸν ἐκ τῆς ἱστορίας ἀναλαβεῖν.

He indeed who believes that by studying isolated histories he can acquire a fairly just view of history as a whole, is, as it seems to me, much in the case of one, who, after having looked at the dissevered limbs of an animal once alive and beautiful, fancies he has been as good as an eyewitness of the creature itself in all its action and grace. (8) For could anyone put the creature together on the spot, restoring its form and the comeliness of life, and then show it to the same man, I think he would quickly avow that he was formerly very far away from the truth and more like one in a dream. (9) For we can get some idea of a whole from a part, but never knowledge or exact opinion. (10) Special histories therefore contribute very little to the knowledge of the whole and conviction of its truth. (11) It is only indeed by study of the interconnection of all the particulars, their resemblances and differences, that we are enabled at least to make a general survey, and thus derive both benefit and pleasure from history. (Translation by E. S. Shuckburgh)

Polybius 1.4.7–11

Here, Polybius does not envisage confusion arising because the viewer has overlooked a physical part of the animal. Instead, the difficulty arises because of the way the parts are arranged: they are διερριμμένα, dissevered, and so are seen in isolation from each other. Though the man may fancy he is able to conjure up a picture of the animal as it is when whole, in fact, he cannot, and realizes this when he does see the animal whole.

To pursue the analogy, Polybius is not here criticizing readers who have failed from κατὰ μέρος ἱστορία to learn about a particular important event, whether because of geographical or chronological oversight or simple forgetfulness. Instead, he is arguing that, no matter how well-informed the reader is, he falls short because the narrative structure involved in κατὰ μέρος ἱστορία does not offer the overarching synthesis between events that Polybius seeks, and thus prevents the correct connections from being made between the different events involved in the theme which the reader is investigating. Overall perspective, balance and structure with relevance to the theme in question—the body—are central here, not absolute extent of coverage, in keeping with the interpretation here of Ephorus’ excellence at τὰ καθόλου γράφειν. {173|174}

This distinction matters because of the implications for attempted generic approaches to Polybius’ analysis: the second interpretation outlined above does not involve any strict geographical or chronological disjuncture between writing with regard for τὰ καθόλου and κατὰ μέρος ἱστορία. These two approaches could then be not mutually exclusive, but instead even complementary aspects of the same work, with both aspects, not just one, required for the perfect history. If so, Polybius might be expected to claim not just to have written τὰ καθόλου, as he does when discussing Ephorus in the passage with which we started, but to have written καὶ καθόλου καὶ κατὰ μέρος, both with an awareness of the broader picture and with reference to the particular event in question: unlike Ephorus, Polybius’ own descriptions of battles were not lacking, and his history was perfect in every way. [43] This is, of course, precisely what Polybius does, not once, but three times, including at two prominent programmatic locations: the start of what he claims as the main narrative of his work in book three (the {174|175} first passage noted below), and at what seems to have been the beginning of his epilogue in book thirty-nine (the third passage below):

ἐπεὶ δὲ τὰς ἐπιφανεστάτας τῶν πράξεων ἐπὶ κεφαλαίου διεληλύθαμεν, βουλόμενοι καὶ καθόλου καὶ κατὰ μέρος εἰς ἔννοιαν ἀγαγεῖν τῆς ὅλης ἱστορίας τοὺς ἐντυγχάνοντας, ὥρα μνημονεύοντας τῆς προθέσεως ἐπαναγαγεῖν ἐπὶ τὴν ἀρχὴν τῆς αὑτῶν ὑποθέσεως.

Now, having given a summary of the most important events, with the object of conveying to my readers a notion of this work as a whole and its contents in detail, it is time for me to call to mind my original plan and return to the starting-point of my history. (Translation by E. S. Shuckburgh)

Polybius 3.5.9

ἐπεὶ γὰρ οὐ τινά, τὰ δὲ παρὰ πᾶσι γεγονότα γράφειν προῃρήμεθα, καὶ σχεδὸν ὡς εἰπεῖν μεγίστῃ τῶν προγεγονότων ἐπιβολῇ κεχρήμεθα τῆς ἱστορίας, καθάπερ καὶ πρότερόν που δεδηλώκαμεν, (7) δέον ἂν εἴη μεγίστην ἡμᾶς ποιεῖσθαι πρόνοιαν καὶ τοῦ χειρισμοῦ καὶ τῆς οἰκονομίας, ἵνα καὶ κατὰ μέρος καὶ καθόλου σαφὲς τὸ σύνταγμα γίνηται τῆς πραγματείας.

For since my design is to write the history not of certain particular matters but of what happened all over the world, and indeed, as I previously stated, I have undertaken, I may say, a vaster task than any of my predecessors, (7) it is my duty to pay particular attention to the matter of arrangement and treatment, so that both as a whole and in all its details my work may have the quality of clearness. (Translation by E. S. Shuckburgh)

Polybius 5.31.6–7

ἡμεῖς δὲ παραγεγονότες ἐπὶ τὸ τέρμα τῆς ὅλης πραγματείας βουλόμεθα, προσαναμνήσαντες τῆς ἀρχῆς καὶ τῆς προεκθέσεως ἧς ἐποιησάμεθα καταβαλόμενοι τὴν ἱστορίαν, συγκεφαλαιώσασθαι τὴν ὅλην ὑπόθεσιν, οἰκειώσαντες τὴν ἀρχὴν τῷ τέλει καὶ καθόλου καὶ κατὰ μέρος.

I, now I have reached the end of my whole work, wish, after recalling to my readers the initial scheme that I laid before them as the foundation of the work, to give a summary of the whole subject matter, {175|176} establishing both in general and in particular the connection between the beginning and the end. (Translation by E. S. Shuckburgh)

Polybius 39.8.3

On the second analysis above, wherein writing καθόλου and κατὰ μέρος are complementary, these statements make perfect sense: Polybius is ostentatiously emphasizing his mastery of the historical discipline, both in narrating his overall theme, and with reference to each individual event mentioned. This approach is also entirely consistent with his use of καθόλου and κατὰ μέρος in the passages discussed above. By contrast, those who insist with Jacoby on a generic approach, that τὰ καθόλου elsewhere means ‘Universal History’, and that it is to be contrasted with accounts written κατὰ μέρος, which “clearly implies individual works on small topics, or monographs,” have more difficulty. Even though Sacks, in discussing this passage, acknowledges that “[k]atholou must mean something like ‘the general import’ and kata meros ‘particulars,’ or ‘details’,” this does not cause him to question his previous conclusions regarding the meaning of τὰ καθόλου and κατὰ μέρος. Instead, it is “especially vexing” that Polybius could write so “offhandedly” in stating that he writes both καθόλου καὶ κατὰ μέρος. [
44] On occasion, non liquet is an appropriate answer; authors can be self-contradictory. To suggest offhandedness when dealing with programmatic passages at significant locations in a work is, however, less than satisfying, especially when there is a clear, logical alternative: that Polybius is not concerned with genre, and even less with ‘Universal History’.

If we do not insist on such categorization, there is no difficulty, because Polybius’ κατὰ μέρος ἱστορία is not a specific sub-genre of Greek History to be contrasted against Hellenica, ‘Universal History’, ‘Monographie’, or any other. Instead, it covers any history which Polybius felt failed to aim for and to achieve the correct overall perspective on the significance of the events which it narrated within its stated theme. Polybius can thus be self-consciously and deliberately referring to what modern scholars might term Hellenica and to histories of Greece and Persia as written κατὰ μέρος. By definition, such a history would disqualify itself from consideration as being written with regard for τὰ καθόλου, not because of any external characteristic, but because Polybius disagreed with its emphasis or tenor.

Examples could be multiplied of occasions where Polybius’ phraseology is clearly at least as consistent with the above interpretation as with earlier genre-focussed argumentation. [49] Instead, I return to Polybius’ claim about his relationship with Ephorus, that he was τὸν πρῶτον καὶ μόνον ἐπιβεβλημένον τὰ καθόλου γράφειν. It is clear that it is not a generic statement: that Ephorus was the first and only writer who had really attempted to undertake the specific type of history that Polybius himself did. Polybius’ ideal of historiography is different: it requires writing both καθόλου and κατὰ μέρος. Polybius’ claim is a much more ambitious, proud, and caustic statement: that Ephorus was the first and only writer who had really attempted to write a history with a correct synthetic awareness of the events mentioned. In one sentence, Polybius dismisses every previous Greek historiographer (including Ephorus) as his inferior. Whether scholars agree with Polybius or not about their relative statuses in the tradition is of little importance. What does matter is that such a tendentious and self-serving comment can under no circumstance be the basis for a generic analysis: even if Polybius and Ephorus were both, for independent reasons, considered ‘Universal Historians’, there would be no justifiable basis whatsoever to argue from this comment that Polybius saw any connection between them regarding ‘Universal History’, let alone that he was claiming Ephorus was his only predecessor in that regard. [50]

6. Ephorus without ‘Universal History’

The discussion here of Diodorus’ and Polybius’ ‘cover-texts’ thus suggests a rather different picture from the one in current scholarship. It does not automatically follow that the modern emphasis on rupture is unhelpful. Nevertheless, I argue that, when we read Ephorus as part of a single tradition with Herodotus and Thucydides, we do gain insight, and so support the perspective of the ancient sources in de-emphasizing the importance of the shift from the fifth century to the fourth century in Greek historiography. {178|179}

We can, moreover, powerfully confirm this argument when we turn to consider the end of Ephorus’ history. Diodorus tells us that Ephorus’ history ended with the Siege of Perinthus in 341/0, when Philip of Macedon failed to take {179|180} the city. [56] Such a conclusion has traditionally been considered problematic for a ‘Universal History’, and the lack of understanding of Ephorus’ conclusion has encouraged speculation about the possibly unfinished nature of Ephorus’ work, and what his intended end might have been. [57] A comparison with Herodotus’ history is, however, again enlightening. As with Ephorus’ conclusion, so too the ending of Herodotus’ work has often been criticised, but recent scholars have been more kind: when the Athenians hang Artayctes, Herodotus invites us to reflect on later Athenian imperial behaviour, and on the Athenian story that is beginning even as the Persian story ends; when Cyrus advises the Persians to live on barren hills, not fertile plains, or else imperil their empire, questions of decay, decadence and their relationship are central. [58] Turning back to Ephorus, the significance of the Siege of Perinthus is not quite the same, but we should not expect that: Ephorus was not Herodotus. The Siege of Perinthus is, however, powerful in a related vein, as the prominent failure of the new hegemonical power even before it had reached its zenith: Macedon. We thus do not need to excuse Ephorus’ decision to end here, explaining it as a sign of incompleteness. Instead, it was a historiographical masterstroke, just as Herodotus’ conclusion had been.

The Return of the Heraclidae was, however, not just a part of fourth-century Peloponnesian political discourse. We need to consider the ‘pre-history’ of the myth prior to the fourth century. Herodotus is again here helpful, because of the prominence the myth has in his narrative: Herodotus already presents the Spartan kings as descended from the Heraclidae. [62] Perhaps more important, however, are the arguments Herodotus offers before the Battle of Plataea, when the Tegeans and Athenians contested who should hold the place of honour on the second wing of the army along with the Spartans. [63] Herodotus’ Tegeans argue their case through a retelling of the myth of the Return of the Heraclidae: in their earlier attempt to return, the King of the Tegeans, Echemus, defeated Hyllus, and so forced the Heraclidae to retreat for one hundred years. Herodotus’ Athenians retort in the same terms: they helped the Heraclidae after their defeat, and in their eventual reconquest. Herodotus is, of course, not a direct reflection of contemporary political discourse. Nevertheless, both examples suggest that the Heraclidae, and their Return, were already an important reference when Herodotus was writing. [64] This discourse may perhaps have become {181|182} still more prominent in the fourth century, but it is at most a matter of degree, not a paradigm shift. Even if Ephorus is the first to structure his history round the Heraclidae, that does not make him a distinctively fourth century figure; rather, we again see the continuity between the fifth and the fourth centuries.

Diodorus’ context is again helpful here: Diodorus’ statement can instead be connected with Ephorus’ innovation as being one of the first to structure his history as books. This decision might well have been spurred Ephorus to make the sort of repeated explicit programmatic statements explaining his organisational principles for those books which were not necessary or possible for Thucydides and Herodotus, as they did not write with such sub-divisions. The novelty would have been the regularity of those statements, and the way in which they frame those books. His decision to write κατὰ γένος was in itself {183|184} unnoteworthy, except in that he moulded this to a work divided into books, just as Diodorus also sought to do. Again, we here recognise that Ephorus was innovative, but there is no need for ‘Universal History’ as a paradigm to explain the innovation; instead, awareness of Ephorus’ place in a continuous tradition is central to understanding Ephorus’ own narrative choices.

7. Polybius and Ephorus

Analysis of Ephorus’ structure thus supports the earlier analysis of Diodorus’ and Polybius’ ‘cover-texts’ in embedding all three historiographers into broad traditions where generic considerations play little role in self-presentation and discussion of predecessors. Instead, each historiographer is both more introspective and more ambitious than modern studies suggest: they are concerned with elucidating their own historiographical purpose, but feel a need to establish their primacy across historiography as a whole, not just ‘Universal History’. Nevertheless, an important step remains. In denying the validity of ‘Universal History’ as a connection between Polybius and Ephorus, it remains to ask why Polybius made special mention of Ephorus in particular, rather than of any other prominent historiographer. There was, strictly, no need for him so to do.

This is the context in which we should approach Polybius’ connection with Ephorus’ history, and specifically the role there of the Return of the Heraclidae. Our analysis above suggests that the actions of the Heraclidae formed a structuring motif for Ephorus’ history. [78] The reason why such a view would have appealed to Polybius is clearest in Polybius’ initial presentation of the Achaean League: with its remarkable power and political union, it had united the entire Peloponnese so effectively by the early second century that it could almost be considered a single city. [79] Polybius is here envisaging the Achaean League as the political manifestation of the entire Peloponnese, and so, in effect, the contemporary descendants of the Heraclidae. Thus, in acclaiming Ephorus, Polybius was {185|186} achieving two related goals. First, he was selecting as the canonical narrative of early Greek history the narrative in which the Peloponnese had the greatest structural prominence—just as he elsewhere indicated his preference for Aratus’ narrative of the events up to 220 over those of such scholars as Phylarchus, and just as his own narrative often implicitly focalised the Achaean League’s point of view (as he understood it) in its narrative. Second, he was commending a view that insisted on the unity of the Peloponnese, a politically important point both before and after the events leading up to the sack of Corinth in 146. Beforehand, it was important to insist on the unity against those member states, ironically including Sparta itself, that wished to break away from the League, disputes which occasionally involved Rome. After the sack, it was crucial, as the Romans debated whether to allow the League to continue to exist. [80]

8. ‘Universal History’ without Ephorus

The consequences of this re-analysis on our understanding of Ephorus, and of early Greek historiography in general, are wide-ranging. Without the support of the internal Greek historiographical discourse, there is no reason to follow Jacoby in his narrow definition of ‘Universal History’ as a national, chronologically universal history, and still less to require Ephorus’ work somehow to form a point of rupture in the tradition in a misguided attempt to preserve Polybius’ {186|187} testimony. The precise terminology used, however, is less important than the methodological approach. We may accept that Ephorus did write a wide-ranging history. Given its length it may well also have included more information about the distant and recent Greek past than Herodotus or Thucydides. We have, however, no reason to believe Ephorus’ history extended those boundaries, was less thematically unified than his predecessors’ works, or was thematically unified round its ‘Universality’ rather than particular historical themes, notably the rise and fall of the Heraclidae. Not only was Ephorus not the first ‘Universal Historian’, but to think in those terms is to misrepresent the nature of the contributions he and his contemporaries made to Greek historiography.

These conclusions are important because of the hermeneutic value that ‘Universal History’ has traditionally had in analysis of Ephorus, and fourth-century historiography. I have already illustrated how inadequate ‘Universal History’ is to explain the phenomenon of writing κατὰ γένος and to illuminate why Ephorus should have chosen to end his work with the Siege of Perinthus. [82] More important here is the way in which the rise of ‘Universal History’ in Greek historiography has been connected to a variety of factors including Alexander’s conquests, a perceived growth of the Greek world, the ‘decline of the polis’, and an increased panhellenic awareness in the fourth century. [83] The argument here against rupture between Ephorus and his predecessors, and against characterising that rupture in terms of ‘Universal History’ thus supports more recent scholarly approaches that downplay some of these trends. Thus, rather than the phenomenon of Hellenistic monarchy involving the ‘decline of the polis’, scholars now recognize that poleis continued to thrive much longer than earlier scholarly narratives allowed. Instead of envisaging an actual expansion of the Greek world in the fourth century, scholars are now much more aware than in the past of how the prominence of Thucydides and other Athenian sources in past scholarship has led to the normalisation of their perspective for the fifth century, and often has elevated them as a model against which the remainder of the classical tradition might be compared. Rather than insisting on the fourth century as a universally acknowledged new and different age, scholars now allow for a broader range of responses to their communal and several pasts. [84] So too, where Jacoby considered that all genres of historiography had been formed in {187|188} the fifth century, that Thucydides was the ideal historiographer, and that after him there could only be decay, the argument here allows for a more dynamic relationship between the historiographers of the fifth century and those of the fourth century, and so for a re-evaluation of their efforts: it may well be queried whether any Greek historiographer was not a primary researcher, not a keen political analyst, and not discriminating in their use of sources, but it is certain that none of these criticisms can be applied to Ephorus, no more than the label ‘Universal Historian’. [85]

Specifically regarding Ephorus, to emphasise disjunction, as the traditional focus on genre, and on the concept of ‘Universal History’ has done, ultimately occludes more than it reveals. We reduce our understanding of the historiographical context in which Ephorus wrote; we misrepresent the nature of the dialogue between the different historiographers; and we misunderstand Ephorus’ achievement. Ephorus’ history was not ‘Universal History’, quite the reverse: it was Ephoran history, a personal historiographical vision which reflected his time, his society, and his interests, and which was predicated, as all Greek historiography was, on a rich engagement with his predecessors. Only on this basis can we ever hope better to appreciate his achievement. {190|}


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[ back ] 1. I should like to thank Nino Luraghi, Erich Gruen, Julia L Shear, Daniel Tober, and the fellow participants of the conference at l’Università di Bologna for their helpful comments; and the Department of Classics at the University of California, Berkeley, and Ulrich Gotter and the Seminar für Alte Geschichte, Universität Konstanz for their hospitality while working on this paper. For ease of reference, all translations are from the appropriate Loeb, except Polybius 5.33.5, which has been revised following Walbank 1956, 1967, 1979. Any infelicity that remains is, naturally, mine alone.

[ back ] 2. Nearly: one notable exception is Hornblower 1994a, who does not mention the concept of ‘Universal History’ at any point in his discussions of Ephorus, Polybius, or Diodorus; see especially 35–38. Otherwise, even work superficially more sceptical of the ancient tradition ultimately conforms to this paradigm. Thus, Alonso-Núñez traces ‘Universal History’ as a phenomenon back into the fifth century, and sees Ephorus, like Herodotus, as a precursor to ‘Universal History’ understood in a stricter sense than that favoured by Jacoby; see especially Alonso-Núñez 1999; Alonso-Núñez 2002; and the comparison of the definitions of ‘Universal History’ offered by Jacoby and Alonso-Núñez below, 157–160. Nevertheless, like other recent analyses, Alonso-Núñez’s approach assumes evidence for breadth of coverage is evidence for attempted universality of coverage, and presupposes the validity of the notion of ‘Universal History’ as a hermeneutic tool to clarify the ancient discourse; compare Sacks 1981:96–121; Scafuro 1983:8–11, which are discussed below. Clarke 1999, Marincola 2007b, and now Pitcher 2009:113–120 are initially more cautious in their analysis, but confirm the traditional paradigm connecting Ephorus and ‘Universal History’ through their unwillingness to explore the ramifications of this caution in their broader discussion: on Clarke and Marincola, see n87 below; on Pitcher 2009:113–120, see n36 below.

[ back ] 3. Fornara 1983:42n63: “no ancient writer could withstand the combined assaults of Wilamowitz, Schwartz, and Jacoby, who made Ephorus the incarnation of all that was objectionable in Greek historiography.” For an exposition of the contrary view ranging much more widely than the current focus on Ephorus’ perceived connection with ‘Universal History’: Schepens 1977. Ephorus has not been well served by scholarship in the twentieth century, even compared to other fourth century historians, such as Theopompus and Hieronymus of Cardia, each of whom has been the subject of a recent book: Flower 1994, and Hornblower 1981 respectively. Nevertheless, Schepens, Vattuone, and Parmeggiani have done much to reframe the debate, and Parmeggiani in particular has cogently shown in a series of articles how modern views of Ephorus’ attitude to the spatium historicum, and to autopsy, and regarding his lack of military competence have arisen from wide-spread misunderstandings of the ancient evidence. Parmeggiani 2011, which I have not seen, is the first book on Ephorus since Barber 1935.

[ back ] 4. Ephorus as the first (to attempt) a ‘Universal History’: Büdinger 1895:32 “Universalhistorie”; von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff 1908:10 “Universal History”; Jacoby 1909:87 “Universalgeschichte”; Jacoby 1926:25 “universalgeschichte”; Starr 1968:150 “Universal History”; Brown 1973:112 “World History”; Strasburger 1977:35 “Universalgeschichte”; Fornara 1983:42 “Universal History”; Alonso-Núñez 1990:177 “general history”; Meister 1990:89 “Universalhistoriker”; Luce 1997:109 “first ‘universal’ history of Greece”; Marincola 1997:69 “Universal History”; Marincola 2001:109 “‘universal history’”, 123; Chávez Reino 2005:50 “historia universal”; Walbank 2005:16 “Universal History”; Schepens 2007:50 “Universal History”; Engels 2009:187 “des Begründers der Gattung [sc. der Universalhistorie]”. Ephorus as “Universal Historian”: Lavagnini 1933:67 “una storia universale della Grecia”; Barber 1935:9 “world-history”, 47 “Universal History”; Châtelet 1962:285 “histoire universelle”; Drews 1963:254 “Universal History”; Mazzarino 1966:1.482 “storia ‘universale’, 483 “universale storia di Greci e barbari”; Strasburger 1966:14 “Universalhistoriker”; Usher 1969:108 “Universal History”; Walbank 1972:66 “Universal History”; Roussel 1973:125 “grande histoire générale”; Burde 1974:21 “Universalhistoriker; Lehmann 1974:157 “Universalgeschichte”; Vannicelli 1987:183 “storia universale”; Meister 1990:66, 86 “Universalgeschichte”; Grant 1995:108 “Universal History”; Breglia Pulci Doria 1996:55 “storia universale”; Mortley 1996:40 “Universal History”; Schepens 1997:145 “Universal History”; Shrimpton and Gillis 1997:106, 121 “Universal History”; Flower 1998:365 “Universal History”; Vattuone 1998b:194 “«storia universale»”; Clarke 1999:255 “universal historian”; Breglia Pulci Doria 2001:149, 164 “storia universale”; Alonso-Núñez 2002:38 “general history”; Hose 2006:677 “Universal History”; Levene 2007:287 “‘universal history’”; Marincola 2007b:171 “Universal History”; Nicolai 2007:22 “Universal History”; Timpe 2007:26 “Universalgeschichte”; Tuplin 2007:160 “so-called ‘universal history’”; Engels 2008:149 “universal histories”; Cornell 2010: “universal historian”; Engels 2010:74 “universal histories”.

[ back ] 5. Ephorus as perceived by Polybius as the first “Universal Historian”: Büdinger 1895:23 “storia universale”, 35 “Universalgeschichte”; Barber 1935:17 “Universal History”; Pédech 1964:496 “histoire universelle”; Momigliano 1972:285 “universal historian”; Walbank 1972:3, 42 “Universal History”; Brown 1973:112 “World History”; Roussel 1973:125 “histoire «universelle»”; Lehmann 1974:157–158 “Universalgeschichte”; Meister 1975:67 “Universalgeschichte”; Schepens 1977:95 “general history”; Momigliano 1978:11 “Universal History”; Sacks 1981:102 “Universal History”; Vannicelli 1987:183 “storia universale”; Alonso-Núñez 1990:175 “world history”; Meister 1990:85 “Universalhistoriker”; Lendle 1992:137 “Universalgeschichte”; Vattuone 1998a:61 “Universalgeschichte”; Rood 2007:149 “general history”; Clarke 2008:96 “‘general history’”; Engels 2008:148 “Universal History”; Cornell 2010: “universal historian”; Sheridan 2010:47 “universal historian”. Ephorus as perceived by Polybius as a “Universal Historian”: Grant 1970:138 “a universal history of Greece”; Schepens 1977:95 “general history”; Fornara 1983:42 “universal [history]”; Marincola 1997:37 “Universal History”; Alonso-Núñez 2002:38; Timpe 2007:44 “Universalhistoriker”.

[ back ] 6. And only: Schepens 1977:95 glosses that Ephorus was at that time the only writer to have written ‘Universal History’; more often, Ephorus’ uniqueness is elided in discussions, and Ephorus is presented purely as the first ‘Universal Historian’. This reading is perhaps required for a generic understanding of this passage, but still significantly underplays its rhetorical context, discussed below, p. 178.

[ back ] 7. A second source of unease may be felt by many at the explicit aim of ‘Universal History’: Momigliano 1982:31: “Taken literally, the idea of universal history verges on absurdity. Who can tell everything that has happened? And who would like to listen if he were told?”; Clarke 1999:250: “A more preposterous aim could scarcely be imagined.”

[ back ] 8. Burde 1974:6; Alonso-Núñez 2002:11.

[ back ] 9. Kant 1874; Toynbee 1934–1961.

[ back ] 10. Jacoby 1923–1958. For analysis of the merits and presuppositions of Jacoby’s approach to Greek historiography: Strasburger 1977; Fowler 1996, especially 68; Humphreys 1997; Marincola 1999. For discussion of the merits of a continuation of FGH: Schepens 1997.

[ back ] 11. Jacoby 1926:25: “[d]en inhalt der Ἱστορίαι, als der ersten wirklichen universalgeschichte . . . bildete die gesamte innere und äußere geschichte des griechischen volkes im mutterlande und den kolonien; dazu die der barbaren im osten und westen, soweit sie mit den Griechen in berührung kamen. um ihrer selbst willen sind die barbarenvölker nicht behandelt; denn die geographischen und naturwissenschaftlichen interessen der Ionier fehlen E[phorus] ebenso vollständig wie das verständnis für die naturhafte bedingtheit der menschen.” By extension, Ephorus’ history can be understood as having been panhellenic, rather than intrinsically polis-focussed; this would fit the tradition (cogently doubted by Jacoby, see below, p. 161) connecting Ephorus with Isocrates, but is not essential for Jacoby’s analysis.

[ back ] 12. Jacoby 1909:102.

[ back ] 13. Diodorus 5.1.4 = FGH 70 T 11: τῶν γὰρ βίβλων ἑκάστην πεποίηκε περιέχειν κατὰ γένος τὰς πράξεις; for varying interpretations of this phrase, see the discussions at Drews 1963; Vannicelli 1987 and below, p. 183.

[ back ] 14. Diodorus 16.76.5 = FGH 70 T 10: βίβλους γέγραφε τριάκοντα, προοίμιον ἑκάστηι προθείς.

[ back ] 15. For continuing reference to such societal factors in explaining the rise of ‘Universal History’, see below, p. 187, esp. n83.

[ back ] 16. Burde 1974:6 offers τὰ καθόλου γράφειν, τὰ δὲ παρὰ πᾶσι γεγονότα and αἱ κοιναὶ τῆς οἰκουμένης πράξεις as examples of how Greek authors referred to ‘Universal History’; Sacks 1981:101 suggests τὰ καθόλου γράφειν, τὰς κοινὰς πράξεις, οἰκουμένη, τὰ δὲ παρὰ πᾶσι γεγονότα, “and possibly” οἰκονομία, all specifically from Polybius.

[ back ] 17. Burde 1974; Sacks 1981:96–121; Scafuro 1983; Clarke 1999; Marincola 2007b; Clarke 2008:97; see n5.

[ back ] 18. ‘Cover-texts’: Schepens 1997:166n66; Brunt 1980:477, following Peters in his Historicorum Romanorum Reliquiae, offered reliquiae for similar reasons. These ‘cover-texts’ were successively collected for Ephorus by Marx 1815; Müller 1841; Jacoby 1923–1958. It has proved difficult to identify physical papyrus fragments of Ephorus. Early suggestions that he was the author of the Hellenica Oxyrhynchia are no longer accepted; for a recent discussion: Behrwald 2005, especially 9–13 for an overview of the vexed question of its authorship.

[ back ] 19. For an early cautionary note regarding the use of Diodorus to reconstruct the historians of earlier historiographers, notably Ephorus: Drews 1962. For two recent contrasting views of the relationship between Diodorus and Ephorus: Stylianou 1998; Green 2006.

[ back ] 20. See the seminal articles by Strasburger 1977; Brunt 1980. For an illustration of these difficulties through an investigation into the image of Herodotus to be gained from our ‘cover-texts’: Lenfant 1999. For a cogent discussion of the difficulties of using Polybius as a source for the previous historiographical tradition, see Pitcher 2009:113–120. Specifically on Polybius as a source for Ephorus, see Chávez Reino 2005, especially 19: “Las noticias de Polibio sobre Éforo no conforman un conunto de datos transparentes y coherentes que puedan traducirse en una imagen perfecta del historiador de Cime, de asimilación inmediata y susceptible de contrastarse con los conocimientos sobre este autor procedentes de otras fuentes.”

[ back ] 21. Marincola 1997.

[ back ] 22. Already Schwartz 1907:1–2, 9 = Schwartz 1957:3–4, 15; Jacoby 1926:23; more recently: Flower 1994:42–62. This tradition is first attested in the first century BCE, but presumably is older: FGH 70 T 1–5, T 8, T 27–28.

[ back ] 23. Diodorus 1.3–4, especially 3.6 and 4.6.

[ back ] 24. Burde 1974:6; Sacks 1981:100, 102; Scafuro 1983:116.

[ back ] 25. Including FGH 70 T 7; revised translation of 5.33.5 following Walbank 1956, 1967, 1979.

[ back ] 26. Cf. Polybius 3.1.4–10; Polybius 6.2.3; Polybius 39.8.7; Polybius 8.2.

[ back ] 27. ‘Calculations’: e.g. Barber 1935:8–9, because Clement of Alexandria Miscellanies 1.139.3 = FGH 70 F 223 states that Ephorus allowed 735 years between the Return of the Heraclidae and Alexander’s crossing to Asia.

[ back ] 28. Sacks 1981:96–121, quotations from 104 and 105.

[ back ] 29. Scafuro 1983:116–156, quotations from 131–132, 138, and 153; Scafuro’s treatment is helpful in arguing that τὰ καθόλου was not a type or genre (114–115), and in her emphasis on the self-serving basis of Polybius’ decision to appropriate the title (viz. “τὰ καθόλου or κοιναὶ ἱστορίαι, ‘universal history’”) for his “quite different history in order to facilitate its acceptance and success” (153); as this quotation suggests, however, her early position regarding τὰ καθόλου and genre is undermined by her subsequent treatment of τὰ καθόλου as effectively equivalent to ‘Universal History’, and lost in her later discussion.

[ back ] 30. They are followed, among others, by Marincola 2007b:171 and Liddel 2010:15.

[ back ] 31. For a discussion of the thematic structure of Ephorus’ work, and of the importance of its ἀρχὴ to this structure, see below, pp. 178–184.

[ back ] 32. We may also query whether Polybius would have understood the chronological bounds of his work in the way that modern scholars do, through their constant focus on his primary narrative. Polybius’ chronology, including the Roman archaeologia in Book 6, actually stretched back at least to the foundation of the Republic (6.11), and more plausibly to the foundation of Rome itself. The reduced numerical difference that this approach suggests in the periods covered in Ephorus’ and Polybius’ histories (perhaps ca. 600 years versus ca. 750 years) is less significant than the structural and conceptual similarity which it involves: Ephorus’ history stretching from the foundation of classical Greece by its current inhabitants, the descendants of the Heraclidae, to the present day is then more directly comparable to Polybius’ history, which stretched from the foundation of Rome to the present day. This might not be the way we commonly choose to portray Polybius’ work, but it is not necessarily illegitimate; indeed, Diodorus’ description of Herodotus’ history forms a direct parallel: see below, p. 170.

[ back ] 33. See above, p. 161.

[ back ] 34. Cf. Polybius 12.23.7; hence it is classified by Jacoby as Sicelica, not Universal History.

[ back ] 35. Diodorus 1.3.2: see above, p. 166.

[ back ] 36. Clarke 2008:96 “shared deeds”; Tuplin 2007:163 “common affairs”; Green 2006:9 “worldwide events,” translating Diodorus 1.4.6; “world events”: a translation of Diodorus 1.4.6 by Green praised by Marincola 2007b:171 as particularly “felicitous.” See now also Pitcher 2009:115, where “common matters” is suggested for τὰς κοινὰς πράξεις. This translation seems fortunate, but the context suggests Pitcher is not entirely happy to pursue the ramifications of what he terms only “literally ‘common matters’”: thus he immediately juxtaposes the Loeb translation of τὰς κοινὰς πράξεις at Diodorus 1.3.2 as “events connected with all people,” without further comment. Despite his cogent analysis of Polybius’ rhetorical purpose, and common-sensical comments—“Some histories were more universal than others” (116)—Pitcher ultimately insists on narrow readings of crucial passages, such as Diodorus 1.3.2, and Diodorus 1.1.1, where he states that Diodorus “refers to ‘universal’ histories as hai koinai historiai” (226n13), and so continues to misunderstand the nature of the historiographical tradition. Thus, in this respect, his discussion is unfortunately still subject to the criticisms mentioned here.

[ back ] 37. Vattuone 1998a:64. In Diodorus 1.3.2 (for text, see above, p. 166), Diodorus does not name any specific historian as among those who he felt had written τὰς κοινὰς πράξεις from (almost) the earliest times. The similarity in Diodorus’ statements about Herodotus and Ephorus, however, surely suggests that he is as likely to have been thinking of Herodotus here as Ephorus, who we argue above likely is included given the echo of τὰς παλαιὰς μυθολογίας in Diodorus’ later treatment of Ephorus.

[ back ] 38. Compare the different possible formulations of Polybius’ chronological bounds, above, p. 164, especially n32.

[ back ] 39. On revolution in antiquity and contrasting ancient and modern approaches to change, see the essays in Goldhill and Osborne 2006, especially Osborne 2006.

[ back ] 40. Polybius 5.33.1–5; translation revised following Walbank 1956, 1967, 1979: see pp. 162–163.

[ back ] 41. Polybius 8.2; cf. n26.

[ back ] 42. To return to Polybius’ analogy with the body: reading κατὰ μέρος ἱστορία equates, in the former case, to viewing a particular part of the body, and in the latter case to viewing all the parts of the body while they are disconnected.

[ back ] 43. Polybius 12.25f1.

[ back ] 44. Sacks 1981:103–104; Scafuro 1983:115, quotations from Sacks.

[ back ] 45. Sacks 1981:103 with reference to Polybius 3.32 and 2.37.4.

[ back ] 46. Compare now Hartog 2010:37–38, which situates Polybius’ discussion with reference to Aristotle’s Poetics, but unfortunately continues to argue from the natural opposition of general and particular perspective that “‘general’ history opposes partial history (kata meros)” (38).

[ back ] 47. τὰ δὲ παρὰ πᾶσι γεγονότα: Polybius 5.31.6; πάσας καθ’ ἕκαστον ἔτος τὰς κατάλληλα πράξεις γενομένας κατὰ τὴν οἰκουμένην: Polybius 15.24a. Claims which, however, should be understood rhetorically, not literally, and compared to his repeated insistence on how the Romans conquered almost the entire known world (Polybius 1.1.5, etc.; see n26 for citations; for discussion of this claim, see below, p. 188).

[ back ] 48. The argument here regarding non-prescriptive, non-generic readings of τὰς κοινὰς πράξεις, τὰ καθόλου, and κατὰ μέρος ἱστορία may be applied more widely. To treat, for example, Hellenica as a distinct genre of historiography, as has been the case in many modern analyses, or even to equate it with “Continuous Histories,” as Tuplin 2007 does, for all his misgivings, is problematic not just because of the generic approach it authorises, but because it suggests that the modern generic category is based on ancient use. Such prescriptive readings are not, however, self-evident: τὰ Ἑλληνικά need mean no more than ‘events concerning the Greeks’; τὰ Περσικά ‘Persian affairs’. As such, they are descriptions of the content of a narrative, not its title, nor a description of its genre. Such phrases do not imply that the philosophies and works represented by these categories were distinct or mutually exclusive, any more than we have seen to be the case here for τὰς κοινὰς πράξεις, τὰ καθόλου, and κατὰ μέρος ἱστορία. Modern practice therefore facilitates perhaps unwitting retrojection of that categorization onto the ‘cover-texts’, causing confusion when it comes to interpreting those very ‘cover-texts’ that are simultaneously ‘validating’ the modern approach.

[ back ] 49. Polybius 1.13.6, 9.44.2; 10.21.7; 29.12.1–8.

[ back ] 50. It should be noted that Polybius does on one other occasion refer to τοὺς τὰ καθόλου γράφοντας, plural (Polybius 29.12.5), and also once during his discussion of Timaeus to τοῖς ὑπὲρ τῆς οἰκουμένης καὶ τῶν καθόλου πράξεων πεποιημένοις τὰς συντάξεις (Polybius 12.23.7). In the latter case, it probably refers only to Ephorus, whom Polybius has just said Timaeus vehemently attacked. In the former, as Sacks 1981:106 notes, the plural writers are probably just Polybius himself, who refers to himself in the plural in surrounding sentences. Thus, neither provides any sound basis for suggesting that Polybius is here contradicting his statement at Polybius 5.33.2, or for speculating which other ancient historians Polybius might have considered also wrote in the nuanced way he advocated under writing with regard for τὰ καθόλου. The clear answer is: none.

[ back ] 51. Parmeggiani 1999:112: “il Ritorno degli Eraclidi non è solo l’incipit narrativo, ma anche il punto a partire dal quale il soggetto storico viene organizzato” (original emphasis); his suggested translation for Diodorus 4.1.2 = Ephorus FGH 70 T 8—τὰ δ’ ἀπὸ τῆς ῾Ηρακλειδῶν καθόδου πραχθέντα συνταξάμενος ταύτην ἀρχὴν ἐποιήσατο τῆς ἱστορίας: “organizzati i fatti a partire dal Ritorno degli Eraclidi, Eforo ne fece il principio delle Storie.” For text, see p. 168 above.

[ back ] 52. Polybius 6.46.10; cf. Strabo 8.5.4 = FGH 70 F 18b; Polybius 6.45.1 = FGH 70 F 148; Strabo 10.4.9 = FGH 70 F 33; Strabo 10.4.16 = FGH 70 F 149.

[ back ] 53. See above, pp. 160–161.

[ back ] 54. Diodorus 11.37.6.

[ back ] 55. For positive reassessments of Diodorus’ historiographical ability against earlier scholarship: Sacks 1990; Sacks 1994; Green 2006.

[ back ] 56. Diodorus 16.76.5 (= FGH 70 T 10).

[ back ] 57. Drews 1963:254: “The penultimate stage in the siege of Perinthus is a most infelicitous conclusion to a universal history and can hardly have been arbitrarily selected as such by Demophilus; it is much more reasonable to assume that the awkward conclusion resulted from some exigency in Ephorus’ own career.”

[ back ] 58. Herodotus 9.119–123. See Moles 1996; Dewald 1997; Pelling 1997; Flower and Marincola 2002; for a summary of earlier interpretations: Immerwahr 1966:146n119.

[ back ] 59. See below, p. 189.

[ back ] 60. See Luraghi’s paper in this volume, p. 133f.

[ back ] 61. See Parmeggiani, “On the Concept of Rhetorical Historiography,” paper delivered at the Bologna Congress, December 13, 2007, to be published; Polybius envisaging Ephorus as an ‘armchair-historian’: e.g. Schepens 1977:96; Ephorus as ‘armchair historian’: e.g. Schepens 1987:329, and Hose 2006:677, depicting him as writing “without any attempt to find and explore new ‘primary sources’,” despite an awareness of the usefulness of inscriptions to Ephorus in his composition already in Barber 1935:127–128. The same criticism is also levelled at Timaeus from Polybius’ criticisms, especially Polybius 7.28a3–4: Walbank 1972:31; Williams 2001:23; van der Stockt 2005:290. Both as ‘typical armchair historians’: Momigliano 1975:58.

[ back ] 62. Herodotus 6.52.

[ back ] 63. Herodotus 9.26–27.

[ back ] 64. Compare also Euripides Heraclidae.

[ back ] 65. Vannicelli 1987:187.

[ back ] 66. Early foundations mentioned by Ephorus included those of the Delphic Oracle: Strabo 9.3.11–12 = FGH 70 F 31b; Thebes: Strabo 9.2.2 = FGH 70 F 119; and Milesian colonies: Athenaeus 12.523e = FGH 70 F 183; the Persian Wars in Ephorus’ tenth book: Stephanus of Byzantium s.v. Πάρος = FGH 70 F 63.

[ back ] 67. Parmeggiani 1999:118–119.

[ back ] 68. Herodotus 1.5.3–4; 1.171.1; 2.29.1; 2.123.1, 2.46.1; etc.; for discussion focussing on the significance of Herodotus’ programmatic statements in his discussion of Egypt: Vannicelli 2001; for discussion of Herodotus’ principles of source citation: Luraghi 2001b.

[ back ] 69. Thucydides 6.2–5. Sicily had previously featured in the narrative, particularly through Laches’ earlier expedition (3.86, 88, 90, 99, 103, 115; 4.1, 24–25, 48, 58–65), but it is structurally most important here.

[ back ] 70. Vannicelli 1987:182: “Mi sembra infatti in pieno accordo con le conclusioni emerse [. . .] l’ipotesi che per Eforo, non meno che per Diodoro, narrare kata genos significhi (o almeno possa significare) conferire unità alla storia di un periodo ponendo in evidenza un tema centrale, senza che per questo lo storico riduca la sua visuale e faccia della sua opera una sorta di collezione di monografie: vicende parallele trovano ugualmente il loro posto nella narrazione, intrecciandosi con il tema centrale.” A more wide-ranging summary of previous interpretations is offered by Drews 1963.

[ back ] 71. Vannicelli 1987:183.

[ back ] 72. Suda s.v. Θεόπομπος Χῖος ῥήτωρ (Θ 172 Adler) = FGH 115 T 1.

[ back ] 73. The son of Lycortas, who was several times Strategos of the league; Polybius himself was appointed second-in-command, Hipparch, in 170 BCE; and he was prominent enough to be one of the thousand Achaeans sent for supervision in Rome after the Third Macedon War. In the aftermath of the sack of Corinth in 146, he was also involved in the resettlement of Achaea, perhaps a stronger incentive for continuing his history than he admits: Polybius 3.4.13; 39.4–5; cf. Plutarch Philopoemen 21.5–6.

[ back ] 74. Polybius 2.37–71; see Lehmann 1967, and, more recently, Haegemans and Kosmetatou 2005; this section is occasionally referred to as the Achaeca, by analogy with Hellenica and Persica (e.g. Mendels 2005:14), but Polybius never refers to it as such.

[ back ] 75. Polybius 2.56–57, esp. 57.11, 15; see Haegemans and Kosmetatou 2005:131–138; Schepens 2005.

[ back ] 76. Polybius 3.7.1–3; cf. Polybius’ insistence on Aetolian responsibility for the Social War, and his description of their greedy and aggressive style of life, as though beasts of prey: Polybius 4.3–5, esp. 3.1 and 5.8. See Livy 35, especially 33.8 and 46.6, for Livy’s narrative of the Aetolian wish to liberate Greece.

[ back ] 77. Cf. Polybius’ description of the reception of Flamininus’ declaration: Polybius 18.46; for Antiochus’ claims: Polybius 20.8.1 and Livy 35.32.11–12, 44.6, 48.8; 36.9.4, 11.2; see also Gruen 1984:2.635–636. Compare the rhetoric of liberation involved in the Peloponnesian War, as suggested by Thucydides 1.69.1, 3.32.2, et passim.

[ back ] 78. See pp. 178–182.

[ back ] 79. Polybius 2.37.8–11.

[ back ] 80. Pausanias 7.16.9–10.

[ back ] 81. Cf. Verbrugghe 1989 on the non-existence of a recognised sub-genre of Annales in Roman historiography, and Marincola 1999:301n373: “Sempronius Asellio’s distinction between the two [annales and historia] . . . must be read in the exaggerative context of historiographical polemic, in which the writer tries to justify the superiority of his own work by criticizing that of his predecessors. Asellio’s cricism is not about form or content, but about fullness of account and examination of causes and attendant circumstances.”

[ back ] 82. κατὰ γένος: Vannicelli 1987:191, see above, p. 183; the siege of Perinthus: see above, pp. 179–180.

[ back ] 83. Alexander’s conquests inspiring a perception of universality: Mioni 1949:23; Châtelet 1962:285; as the Greek world grew, so necessarily did its history: Brown 1973:107; Mortley 1996:1; Marincola 2001:109; the ‘decline of the polis’ necessitating a new subject: Schepens 1977:97; inspired by Isocrates/panhellenism: Barber 1935:78; Alonso-Núñez 1990:190; Luce 1997:109.

[ back ] 84. Nicolai 2006:695 for a recent espousal of this view; this is not to deny that for some Athenians, notably Isocrates, and at times Demosthenes, the imperial era from 477-404 BCE or into the early fourth century may have seemed quantitatively and qualitatively different from the middle to late fourth century: Musti 1989:471. This perspective should not, however, be generalized, or transferred to affect our narrative of Greek Historiography.

[ back ] 85. Jacoby 1909, especially 98. Marincola 2007b:178: “Universal historians are often criticized for what they are not: not primary researchers, not keen political analysts, not discriminating in their use of sources.”

[ back ] 86. On Polybius’ claims of geographical universality, see n47. For an analysis of differences between Polybius’ view of the Roman Empire and Roman perspectives: Richardson 1979. Polybius’ deliberate restriction of his work’s conceptual world to the Mediterrannean basin, which ignored such previously favoured ‘others’ of Greek historiography as the Scythians, and overlooked the Greek settlements around the Black Sea and in the interior of the Seleucid empire, may be stylistically helpful in maintaining this fiction, but it does not make it any more plausible.

[ back ] 87. Thus, Marincola 2007b opens by noting that a strict definition of ‘Universal History’ (citing Alonso-Núnez) would exclude some of the historians to be treated in the chapter, but immediately continues to offer a bipartite depiction similar to that of Scafuro, followed by biographies of Ephorus, Theopompus, and Diodorus. He does not return to the implications of his initial comment, and any apparent doubt in the validity of the application has been lost by the conclusion, where the wide-ranging summary of ‘Universal Historians’ as a group at least implicitly covers all three authors treated in detail, Ephorus as much as Diodorus. [ back ] Similarly, Clarke 1999 initially states her allegiance to a strict definition of ‘Universal History’ (also citing Alonso-Núnez), and dismisses the relevance of either Herodotus or Polybius, both of whom are largely to be excluded from her discussion. Instead, the authors in question “belong to a single historical period, namely the mid-to-late first century.” (250) She continues, however, to state that “Diodorus deliberately went beyond the range of his model, the great universal historian Ephorus.” (255)

[ back ] 88. Hesiod Works and Days 106–201. Herodotus: 1.95, 130; cf. Ctesias FGH 688 F 33a = Scholiast Aristeides The Panathenaic Oration 964.301Ddf, perhaps implying the same for Ctesias; Aristoxenus fr. 50 Wehrli = Athenaeus 12.546a; Polybius 1.2.

[ back ] 89. This is not a novel claim, but the widespread awareness of the difficulties involved in this approach has yet to be translated into alternative conceptualisations of the Greek historiographical universe. Despite the clear argumentation against such divisions in Marincola 1999, especially the alternative taxonomy offered at 301–309, even Marincola 2007a still adopts this arrangement, juxtaposing chapters on such topics as “the Development of the War Monograph,” “Continuous Histories (Hellenica),” and “Universal History from Ephorus to Diodorus,” to the evident discomfort of the authors involved, including himself (see n87). Tuplin 2007 is typical in his acknowledgement of the difficulties he faced in his attempt to define the genre of “Continuous Histories (Hellenica),” in itself an equation many would find problematic (160): “This is, of course, a pretty loose criterion: it is easily met by authors such as Ephorus or Polybius who, as authors of so-called “universal history” (albeit in different modes), are normally regarded as clearly outside the genre with which we are concerned—and who should be so regarded, if the genre is to have any useful content at all.”

[ back ] 90. This is a general methodological point, but it is one that is particularly relevant to our understanding of fourth-century historiography: fourth-century historiographers have suffered even more than others from this focus on genre, because of their proximity to the fifth century and to Thucydides.