ΗΡΩΔΙΑΝΟΥ ΤΗΣ ΜΕΤΑ ΜΑΡΚΟΝ ΒΑΣΙΛΕΙΑΣ ΙΣΤΟΡΙΑΣ ΒΙΒΛΙΟΝ ΠΡΩΤΟΝ1
1. Οἱ πλεῖστοι τῶν περὶ συγκομιδὴν ἱστορίας ἀσχοληθέντων ἔργων2 τε πάλαι γεγονότων μνήμην ἀνανεώσασθαι σπουδασάντων, παιδείας κλέος ἀίδιον μνώμενοι, ὡς ἂν μὴ3 σιωπήσαντες λάθοιεν ἐς τὸν πολὺν ὅμιλον ἀριθμούμενοι, τῆς μὲν ἀληθείας ἐν ταῖς ἀφηγήσεσιν ὠλιγώρησαν, οὐχ ἥκιστα δὲ ἐπεμελήθησαν φράσεώς4 τε καὶ εὐφωνίας, θαρροῦντες, ὡς εἴ τι καὶ μυθῶδες5 λέγοιεν, τὸ μὲν ἡδὺ τῆς ἀκροάσεως αὐτοὶ καρπώσονται, τὸ δ᾿ 2ἀκριβὲς τῆς ἐξετάσεως οὐκ ἐλεγχθήσεται. εἰσὶ δ᾿ οἳ πρὸς ἔχθραν ἢ μῖσος τυράννων, κολακείαν τε ἢ
The First Book of Herodian’s History of the Empire from the Time of Marcus Aurelius1
1. Most writers engaged in compiling history, whose concern has been to present a fresh record of the past, have aimed at winning themselves a permanent reputation for scholarship, since they were afraid that if they did not express themselves they would be indistinguishable from the masses. But in their narratives they have shown a contempt for the truth and a preoccupation with vocabulary and style, because they were confident that, even if they romanced a bit, they would reap the advantages of the pleasure they gave to their public,2 without the accuracy of their research being investigated. Some2authors, through the excellent quality of their style,
- 1The title is variously recorded in the MSS (cf. app. critic.) but it is uncertain whether any of the titles are authentic. In some early editions the first chapter is headed prooemium, but this appears in none of the MSS.
- 2The word in Greek is “listening”, a ref. to the practice of public recitations and readings. The whole of this critique of contemporary historiography has a strongly conventional flavour (e.g. Thuc. 1.21 for a similar attack on logographers). Lucian in the late 2nd century also attacked the large number of sophist-historians who wrote stylish work of little authenticity. On the “mythical” element in history, another conventional target for attack, see e.g. Dion. Hal. de Thuc. 5–7, Lucian, How to write history 42 and his rectuctio ad absurdum in the Varia Historia. A contemporary of Herodian, Claudius Aelianus, wrote a typically “mythical” anecdotal work, also called the Varia Historia.