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Diodorus Siculus and the First Century

Diodorus Siculus and the First Century

KENNETH S. SACKS
Copyright Date: 1990
Pages: 254
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7ztqcm
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    Diodorus Siculus and the First Century
    Book Description:

    Living in Rome during the last years of the Republic, Diodorus of Sicily produced the most expansive history of the ancient world that has survived from antiquity--the Bibliotheke. Whereas Diodorus himself has been commonly seen as a "mere copyist" of earlier historical traditions, Kenneth Sacks explores the complexity of his work to reveal a historian with a distinct point of view indicative of his times.

    Sacks focuses on three areas of Diodorus's history writing: methods of organization and style, broad historical and philosophical themes, and political sentiments. Throughout, Diodorus introduced his own ideas or refashioned those found in his sources. In particular, his negative reaction to Roman imperial rule helps to illuminate the obscure tradition of opposition historiography and to explain the shape and structure of the Bibliotheke. Viewed as a unified work reflecting the intellectual and political beliefs of the late Hellenistic period, the Bibliotheke will become an important source for interpreting first-century moral, political, and intellectual values.

    Originally published in 1990.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6128-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xi-2)
  5. INTRODUCTION: The Argument
    (pp. 3-8)

    Writing during the last years of the Republic, Diodorus Siculus produced a universal history entitled theBibliotheke.² Of its forty original books, only fifteen are completely extant, with most of the others surviving in various fragmentary states. The history’s claim to universality is established by its range, both geographic and chronological. Along with the myths of the barbarians and Greeks, it covers the affairs of mainland Greece, Sicily, Rome, and surrounding areas, from the time of the Trojan War until 60 b.c.

    With his net cast so widely, Diodorus relied heavily on written accounts for his information. Except for some...

  6. ONE Prooemia
    (pp. 9-22)

    All studies of Diodorus have been dominated implicitly or explicitly by the overarching concern to identify the sources behind theBibliotheke. Still influenced by nineteenth-century methodology, scholars believe that Diodorus followed previous histories so closely that through diligent inquiry the original authors can usually be identified. Plagiarism, too strong a term in its modern sense to use in judging ancient practices,¹ is, in fact, the word customarily applied to Diodorus’s method of composition.² In particular, the prefaces to the individual books of theBibliothekeare mechanically ascribed to Diodorus’s sources. With few exceptions (books ii, iii, and xi have only...

  7. TWO Themes in Historical Causality
    (pp. 23-54)

    Three important forces or historical patterns help to shape Diodorus’s narrative: benefit, chance, and the decline of empires. As with his prooemia, it is usually argued that Diodorus simply took these ideas from his sources without considering their contemporary relevance or internal consistencies. Yet these concepts pervade theBibliotheke, providing thematic unity and structure. A reexamination of the concept of benefit will show that Diodorus has imposed his own beliefs in stating the principle that history can be useful to its readers. The role of chance and the theory of the decline of empires are then considered, with similar results...

  8. THREE Culture’s Progress
    (pp. 55-82)

    In the prooemium to book i, Diodorus announces that he will begin theBibliothekewith a systematic treatment of the mythologies of the world (i 3.2). Though also including in the early books studies of topography, zoology, ethnography, and paradoxography, he considers the first six books devoted primarily to the recitation of myth and legend prior to the Trojan War.¹ Their organization is simple. Books i–iii cover the “barbarian” (i 4.6) East and books iv–vi treat the West. The Egyptians are discussed in book i; the Assyrians, Medes, Indians, Scythians, Amazons, and some eastern islands in book ii;...

  9. FOUR Aspects of History Writing
    (pp. 83-116)

    Organizational and chronological markers, speeches, and polemics are essential parts of ancient historiography, and each is found in theBibliotheke. In accordance with their general opinion of Diodorus, scholars customarily assume that, just as with his prologues, he had little to do with these aspects of history writing and that he drew his material, sometimes inappropriately, from the sources he followed. A closer investigation, however, indicates that Diodorus was more careful and often more original in his use of these conventions than is generally acknowledged. These findings suggest that future studies of theBibliothekewill need to reexamine many assumptions...

  10. FIVE Diodorus on Rome
    (pp. 117-159)

    For longer than any other area outside the Italian peninsula, Diodorus’s homeland was under Roman control. Serving as an important source of grain, as well as a battlefield for Roman armies, Sicily was protected and exploited for its fertile fields, prized and plundered for its Greek culture. During Diodorus’s lifetime, Verres shamelessly ravaged the island, Caesar and Antony extended the franchise, and Octavian and Sextus Pompey fought there. At the same time a series of civil wars transformed the Roman government from oligarchy to autocracy. No historian, not even a so-called copyist such as Diodorus, could have ignored or remained...

  11. SIX Diodorus in the World of Caesar and Octavian
    (pp. 160-203)

    The previous chapter demonstrated that Diodorus imprinted on his history his own views of the late Republic. With his sometimes critical attitude toward Rome as a background, it is appropriate now to consider how Diodorus’s experiences and his reactions to contemporary events helped shape the structure and bias of his work. After reviewing the evidence about Diodorus’s life, this chapter examines the terminal date of theBibliotheke. At some time while writing his history, Diodorus altered its end point so that the work concluded, not with events of 46 b.c. as originally planned, but with the year 60 b.c. The...

  12. CONCLUSIONS
    (pp. 204-206)

    The suggestion was once made that Arnaldo Momigliano devote himself to a commentary on Diodorus. In a earlier age, the same challenge could have been put to Eduard Meyer. TheBibliothekeencompasses a broader expanse of time and locale than any history surviving from antiquity, and only such great polymaths might control its diverse material. Until a commentary on a grand scale is undertaken, more modest scholars must examine individual aspects of Diodorus’s work.

    The present study is part of that tradition. During the nineteenth century, the impression grew that Diodorus remained quite loyal to the narratives he followed. Behind...

  13. APPENDIX ONE. Sicilian Enfranchisement
    (pp. 207-210)
  14. APPENDIX TWO. Posidonius on Italian Knights
    (pp. 211-212)
  15. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 213-230)
  16. INDEX OF SIGNIFICANT PASSAGES IN DIODORUS
    (pp. 231-235)
  17. INDEX OF SIGNIFICANT PASSAGES IN OTHER AUTHORS
    (pp. 236-238)
  18. INDEX OF SIGNIFICANT GREEK TERMS
    (pp. 239-239)
  19. GENERAL INDEX
    (pp. 240-242)