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2. Of Abdera has often been confounded in ancient as well as in modern times with Hecataeus of Miletus. He was a contemporary of Alexander the Great and Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, and appears to have accompanied the former on his Asiatic expedition as far as Syria. He was a pupil of the Sceptic Pyrrho, and is himself called a philosopher, critic, and grammarian. (Suid. s. v. Ἑκαταῖος ; Joseph. c. Apion. 1.22; Diod. 1.47; D. L. 9.61; Plut. Sympos. p. 666e.) From the manner in which he is spoken of by Eusebius (Praep. Evang. ix. p. 239), we must infer that he was a man of great reputation on account of his extensive knowledge as well as on account of his practical wisdom (περὶ τὰς ιραξεις ἱκανώτατος). In the reign of the first Ptolemy he travelled up the Nile as far as Thebes.


He was the author of several works, of which, however, only a small number of fragments have come down to us.

A History of Egypt

Diod. 1.47; Phot. Bibl. Cod. 244, where he is confounded with Hecataeus of Miletus.) Whether the work on the philosophy of the Egyptians, attributed to him by Diogenes Laertius (i. Prooem. § 10), was a distinct work, or only a portion of the History of Egypt, is uncertain. (Comp. Plut. De Is. et Os. p. 354d.) This work on Egypt is one of the causes of the confusion of our Hecataeus with the Milesian, who in his Periegesis had likewise written on Egypt.

A work on the Hyperboreans

(Schol. ad Apollon. Rhod. 2.675; Diod. 2.47; Aelian, Ael. NA 11.1 ; Steph. Byz. s. vv. Ἐλίξοια, Καραμβύκαι.)

A History of the Jews

Of this the book on Abraham mentioned by Josephus (J. AJ 1.7), was probably only a portion. This work is frequently referred to by the ancients (Joseph. c. Apion. 1.22 ; Euseb. Praep. Evang. ix. p. 408, xiii. p. 680; Clem. Al. Strom. v. p. 603, and others); but it was declared spurious even by Origen (c. Cels. 1.15), and modern critics are divided in their opinions. Suidas attributes to our Hecataeus works on Homer and Hesiod, but makes no mention of the historical works which we have enumerated.


The fragments of Hecataeus of Abdera have been collected by P. Zorn, Hecataci Abderitae Fragmenta, Altona, 1730, 8vo.

Further Information

Comp. Creuzer, Hist. Graec. Antiquiss. Fragm. p. 28, &c.; Vossius, De Hist. Graec. p. 86, &c., ed. Westermann.

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