previous next

Philinus and Fabius Pictor

But it was not these considerations only which induced me to undertake the history of this war.
This is rendered more necessary by the partisan misrepresentations of Philinus and Fabius Pictor.
I was influenced quite as much by the fact that Philinus and Fabius, who have the reputation of writing with the most complete knowledge about it, have given us an inadequate representation of the truth. Now, judging from their lives and principles, I do not suppose that these writers have intentionally stated what was false; but I think that they are much in the same state of mind as men in love. Partisanship and complete prepossession made Philinus think that all the actions of the Carthaginians were characterised by wisdom, honour, and courage: those of the Romans by the reverse. Fabius thought the exact opposite. Now in other relations of life one would hesitate to exclude such warmth of sentiment: for a good man ought to be loyal to his friends and patriotic to his country; ought to be at one with his friends in their hatreds and likings. But directly a man assumes the moral attitude of an historian he ought to forget all considerations of that kind. There will be many occasions on which he will be bound to speak well of his enemies, and even to praise them in the highest terms if the facts demand it: and on the other hand many occasions on which it will be his duty to criticise and denounce his own side, however dear to him, if their errors of conduct suggest that course. For as a living creature is rendered wholly useless if deprived of its eyes, so if you take truth from History what is left is but an idle unprofitable tale. Therefore, one must not shrink either from blaming one's friends or praising one's enemies; nor be afraid of finding fault with and commending the same persons at different times. For it is impossible that men engaged in public affairs should always be right, and unlikely that they should always be wrong. Holding ourselves, therefore, entirely aloof from the actors, we must as historians make statements and pronounce judgment in accordance with the actions themselves.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Theodorus Büttner-Wobst after L. Dindorf, 1893)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (4):
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: