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Hellanicus of Lesbos
Hellanicus of Lesbos (in Ancient Greek Hellanicós) (born in Mytilene on the isle of Lesbos in 490 BC) was an ancient Greek logographer who flourished during the latter half of the 5th century BC. He is reputed to have lived to the age of 85.
His work includes the first mention of the legendary founding of Rome by the Trojans; he writes that the city was founded by Aeneas when accompanying Ulysses on travels through Latium. However, he supported the idea that the Etruscans lay behind the origins of the Pelasgians, an ancient Greek people who predated the great Achaean invasions.
Some thirty works are attributed to him--chronological, historical and episodical. Mention may be made of:
- The Priestesses of Hera at Argon: a chronological compilation, arranged according to the order of succession of these functionaries
- The Carneonikac: a list of the victors in the Carnean games (the chief Spartan musical festival), including notices of literary events
- An Aithis, giving the history of Attica from 683 to the end of the Peloponnesian War (404), which is referred to by Thucydides (i. 97), who says that he treated the events of the years 480-431 briefly and superficially, and with little regard to chronological sequence
- Phoronis: chiefly genealogical, with short notices of events from the times of Phoroneus the Argive first man to the return of the Heraclidae
- Troica and Persica: histories of Troy and Persia.
Hellanicus authored works of chronology, geography, and history, particularly concerning Attica, in which he made a distinction between what he saw as Greek mythology from history. His influence on the historiography of Athens was considerable, lasting until the time of Eratosthenes (3rd century B.C.).
He transcended the narrow local limits of the older logographers, and was not content to merely repeat the traditions that had gained general acceptation through the poets. He tried to give the traditions as they were locally current, and availed himself of the few national or priestly registers that presented something like contemporary registration.
He endeavoured to lay the foundations of a scientific chronology, based primarily on the list of the Argive priestesses of Hera, and secondarily on genealogies, lists of magistrates (e.g. the archons at Athens), and Oriental dates, in place of the old reckoning by generations. But his materials were insufficient and he often had recourse to the older methods.
On account of his deviations from common tradition, Hellanicus is often called an untrustworthy writer by the ancients themselves, and it is a curious fact that he appears to have made no systematic use of the many inscriptions which were ready to hand. Dionysius of Halicarnassus censures him for arranging his history, not according to the natural connection of events, but according to the locality or the nation he was describing; and undoubtedly he never, like his contemporary Herodotus, rose to the conception of a single current of events wider than the local distinction of race. His style, like that of the older logographers, was dry and bald.
Fragments in Carolus Müller , Fragmenta historicorum Graecorum, i. and iv.; see among older works Ludwig Preller, De Hellanico Lesbio historico (1840); Mure, History of Greek Literature, iv.; late criticism in H Kullmer, Hellanikos in Jahrbücher für klass. Philologie (Supplementhand, xxvii. 455 sqq.) (1902), which contains new edition and arrangement of fragments; CF Lehmann-Haupt, Hellanikos, Herodot, Thukydides, in Klio vi. 127 sqq. (1906); JB Bury, Ancient Greek Historians (1909), pp. 27 sqq.
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