Hecataeus of Miletus

“The question of the genuineness of the fragments of Hecataeus has been much debated. To refer only to recent discussions, Cobet decides summarily that not only the geographical fragments but also those of the work on ‘Genealogies’ are forgeries; as however, the great Dutch scholar devotes only seven pages to the discussion of the matter, his decision can hardly be accepted as final, although his great name is sufficient warrant for treating the question as one that may be fairly considered open. But since the article in Hermes of Professor Diels, the matter has, I think, generally been held to be settled the other way, and Hecataeus has not only been credited with the fragments in question as being really his own, but, on the strength of them, has been assigned a very important position in the development of Greek thought and especially of Greek geographical science. For a long time I accepted the conclusions of Professor Diels; but a closer examination of the evidence has now convinced me that the balance of probability is strongly against the fragments being genuine, and it seems therefore worth while to restate the whole case.” Joseph Wells (1909) [9].

Hecataeus of Miletus has been reported to have lived in the 6th-5th centuries BC. He is believed to have been an early Greek historian and a geographer. There are conflicting dates on when he lived, such as:
[1] – c.550-c.476.
[2] – c.550-c.490.
[4] – born before 545.
[6] – c.560-480.
[8] – 550-480.
Others sources don’t give a birth and death date, but rather a “when he flourished” date or dates, such as:
[3] – fl.520-516.
[4] – fl.560-418.
[5] – fl. late 6th-early 5th cc..

There are two works which have been attributed to him:
1 – Periodos ges (Journey round the Earth/World Survey)
2 – Genealogiai (Genealogies/History)
Neither of these have survived in their entirety.

The variances in the number of fragments for his World Survey are listed below followed sometimes by the number of fragments derived from Stephanus of Byzantium‘s (6th c. AD) Ethnika in parentheses:
[1], [7] – over 300
[2] – 330
[4] – 374 (no less than 304)
[5] – 335 (nearly 300)
[8] – some 300 (majority)

For the second work, the wiki claims that less than 40 fragments survive. Livius.org claims that this work survives in around 40 fragments. Iranicaonline claims that there are only about 30 fragments containing parts of this work which survive. Reference [5] claims that Jacoby printed “some 35 fragments” of this work.

He is also credited for improving Anaximander’s map.

I have not yet found any information about how old the surviving fragments are. What I can say from the evidence above is that the majority of fragments can’t predate the 6th century AD, some 1000 years removed from the supposed time of writing.

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~


[1] – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hecataeus_of_Miletus

[2] – https://www.livius.org/articles/person/hecataeus-of-miletus/

[3] – https://www.vanhamel.nl/codecs/Periegesis

[4] – http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/hecataeus-of-miletus

[5] – https://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/hecataeus-miletus

[6] – https://referenceworks.brillonline.com/entries/brill-s-new-pauly-supplements-i-2/hecataeus-of-miletus-COM_0099

[7] – https://oxfordre.com/classics/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199381135.001.0001/acrefore-9780199381135-e-2955

[8] – http://www.myoldmaps.com/maps-from-antiquity-6200-bc/108-hecataeus/108-hecataeus.pdf

[9] – https://www.jstor.org/stable/624641?seq=1

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: