Dionysius of Halicarnassus, The Ancient Orators 5. Thucydides

LCL 465: 462-463

Go To Section
Go To Section

Dionysius of Halicarnassus


1Ἐν τοῖς προεκδοθεῖσι περὶ τῆς μιμήσεως ὑπομνηματισμοῖς ἐπεληλυθὼς οὓς ὑπελάμβανον ἐπιφανεστάτους εἶναι ποιητάς τε καὶ συγγραφεῖς, ὦ Κόιντε Αἴλιε Τουβέρων, καὶ δεδηλωκὼς ἐν ὀλίγοις, τίνας1 ἕκαστος αὐτῶν εἰσφέρεται πραγματικάς τε καὶ λεκτικὰς ἀρετάς, καὶ πῇ μάλιστα χείρων ἑαυτοῦ γίνεται κατὰ τὰς ἀποτυχίας, εἴ τε τῆς προαιρέσεως οὐχ ἅπαντα κατὰ τὸν ἀκριβέστατον λογισμὸν ὁρώσης εἴ τε τῆς δυνάμεως οὐκ ἐν ἅπασι τοῖς ἔργοις κατορθούσης, ἵνα τοῖς προαιρουμένοις γράφειν τε καὶ λέγειν εὖ καλοὶ καὶ δεδοκιμασμένοι κανόνες ὦσιν, ἐφ᾿ ὧν ποιήσονται τὰς κατὰ μέρος γυμνασίας μὴ πάντα μιμούμενοι τὰ παρ᾿ ἐκείνοις κείμενα τοῖς ἀνδράσιν, ἀλλὰ τὰς μὲν ἀρετὰς αὐτῶν λαμβάνοντες, τὰς δ᾿ ἀποτυχίας φυλαττόμενοι· ἁψάμενός τε τῶν συγγραφέων ἐδήλωσα καὶ περὶ Θουκυδίδου τὰ δοκοῦντά μοι, συντόμῳ τε καὶ κεφαλαιώδει γραφῇ περιλαβών, οὐ δι᾿ ὀλιγωρίαν καὶ ῥᾳστώνην οὐδὲ διὰ σπάνιν τῶν δυνησομένων βεβαιῶσαι τὰς προθέσεις, ἀλλὰ τῆς εὐκαιρίας τῶν γραφομένων στοχαζόμενος, ὡς



On Thucydides

In the treatise On Imitation1 which I published1 earlier, Quintus Aelius Tubero,2 I discussed those poets and prose authors whom I considered to be outstanding. I indicated briefly the good qualities of content and style contributed by each, and where his failings caused him to fall furthest below his own standards, either because his purpose did not enable him to grasp the scope of his subject in the fullest detail, or because his literary powers did not measure up to it throughout the whole of his work. I did this in order that those who intend to become good writers and speakers should have sound and approved standards by which to carry out their individual exercises, not imitating all the qualities of these authors, but adopting their good qualities and guarding against their failings. When I came to deal with the historians, I gave my opinion of Thucydides, but expressed it in a brief and summary manner. This I did not because I thought little of him or because I was lazy, nor because I was short of arguments to support my statements: I was brief because I was concerned with presenting my material on a scale appropriate to the work in hand; and I treated the

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.dionysius_halicarnassus-thucydides.1974