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*Qeo/pompos), of Chios, the historian, was the son of Damasistratus and the brother of Cancalus, the rhetorician. He accompanied his father into banishment, when the latter was exiled on account of his espousing the interests of the Lacedaemonians, but was restored to his native country in the forty-fifth year of his age, after the death of his father, in consequence of the letters of Alexander the Great, in which he exhorted the Chians to recal their exiles (Phot. Bibl. 176, p. 120b. ed. Bekker). But as these letters could not have been written at the earliest till after the battle of Granicus, we may place the restoration of Theopompus in B. C. 333, and his birth in B. C. 378. Suidas assigns a much earlier date to Theopompus, stating that he was born at the same time as Ephorus. during the anarchy at Athens in the 93d Olympiad, that is in B. C. 404 ; but as we know that Theopompus was alive in B. C. 305, we may safely conclude that Suidas is in error, and that the date in Photius is the correct one. In what year Theopompus quitted Chios with his father, can only be matter of conjecture ; and the various suppositions of the learned on the point are not worth repeating here. We know, however, that before he left his native country, he attended the school of rhetoric which Isocrates opened at Chios, and he profited so much by the lessons of his great master, that he was regarded by the ancients as the most distinguished of all his scholars. (Plut. Vit. dec. Orat. p. 837b; Phot. Bibl. 260; Dionys. Ep. ad Cn. Pomp. 100.6.) Ephorus the historian was a fellow-student with him, but was of a very different character; and Isocrates used to say of them, that Theopompus needed the bit and Ephorus the spur. (Cic. Brut. 56, ad Att. 6.1.12.) In consequence of the advice of Isocrates, Theopompus did not devote his oratorical powers to the pleading of causes, but gave his chief attention to the study and composition of history. (Cic. de Orat. 2.13, 22.) Like his master Isocrates, however, he composed many orations of the kind, called Epideitic by the Greeks, that is, speeches on set subjects delivered for display, such as eulogiums upon states and individuals, and similar subjects. He himself tells us that there was no important city of Greece, in which he had not remained some time, and where he had not obtained great glory by the public exhibition of his oratorical powers. One instance of the kind is recorded. In B. C. 352 he contended at Halicarnassus with Naucrates and his master Isocrates for the prize of oratory, given by Artemisia in honour of her husband, and gained the victory (Gel. 10.18; Plut. Vit. dec. Orat. p. 838b; Euseb. Praep. Ev. 10.3.) The other places which he visited are not mentioned; but it appears from his own account, to which we have already referred, that he spent the greater part of the time of his exile in travelling, and in the acquisition of know ledge. He was able to pursue this mode of life in consequence of his possessing a large fortune, which released him from the necessity of working for his livelihood, like Isocrates, by writing speeches for others, and giving instruction in oratory. (Phot. Bibl. 176; Dionys. Ep. ad Cn. Pomp. 100.6; Athen. 3.85b.) On his return to his native country in B. C. 333, Theopompus, from his eloquence, acquirements and wealth, naturally took an important position in the state; but his vehement temper, haughty bearing, and above all his support of the aristocratical party, which he had inherited from his father, soon raised against him a host of enemies. Of these one of the most formidable was the sophist Theocritus, who had also been a pupil of Isocrates, and who likewise attacked Alexander and Aristotle in the bitterest manner. (Strab. xiv. p.645.) As long as Alexander lived, his enemies dared not take any open proceedings against Theopompus; and even after the death of the Macedonian monarch, he appears to have enjoyed for some years the protection of the royal house. But when he lost this support, he was expelled from Chios as a disturber of the public peace. He fled to Egypt to king Ptolemy. (Phot. l.c.) Ptolemy did not assume the title of king till B. C. 306, and consequently if the expression of Photius is to be taken literally, we may place the arrival of Theopompus in Egypt in B. C. 305, when he was seventy-five years of age. Photius adds that Ptolemy not only refused to receive Theopompus, but would even have put him to death as a dangerous busybody, had not some of his friends interceded for his life. Of his further fate we have no particulars, but he probably died soon afterwards.


The following is a list of the works of Theopompus, none of which have come down to us.

1. Ἐπιτομὴ τῶν Ἡρρδότου ἱστοριῶν,
An Epitome of the History of Herodotus.

This work is mentioned by Suidas, and in a few passages of the grammarians; but it has been questioned by Vossius whether it was really drawn up by Theopompus, on the ground that it is improbable that a writer of his attainments and skill in historical composition would have engaged in such a task. It has therefore been supposed that it was executed by some later writer, who prefixed to it the well-known name of Theopompus. It is, however, not impossible that Theopompus may have made the Epitome at an early period of his life as an exercise in composition.

2. Ἐλληνικαὶ ἱστορίαι or Σύνταξις Ἑλληνικῶν

A History of Graece, in twelve books, was a continuation of the history of Thucydides. It commenced in B. C. 411, at the point where the history of Thucydides breaks off, and embraced a period of seventeen years down to the battle of Cnidus in B. C. 394 (Diod. 13.42, 14.84; Marcellin. Vit. Thuc. 45). Only a few fragments of this work are preserved.

3. Φιλιππικὰ

Also called Ἰστορίαι (κατ̓ ἐξοχὴν), The History of Philip, father of Alexander the Great, in fifty-eight books, from the commencement of his reign B. C. 360, to his death B. C. 336. (Diod. 16.3; Phot. Bibl. 176.) Schweighaeuser supposed that the Hellenics and the Philippics formed one work, which was called the History of Theopompus, but this opinion has been satisfactorily refuted by Clinton. (Fasti Hell. vol. ii. pp. 374, 375, 2d ed.) Wherever the History of Theopompus is quoted by the ancient writers without any distinguishing name, the Philippics are always meant, as this was the more important work; when the Grecian history is meant, it is cited by the title of Hellenics. Moreover, as Clinton justly remarks, these two works cannot be said to form one corpus historicum ; they did not proceed in one unbroken series, for the first work terminated in B. C. 394, and the second began in B. C. 360, thus leaving a space of thirty-four years between them, which did not belong to either. The great length of the Philippics was not so much owing to the minute account which it gave of the life and reign of Philip, as to the numerous digressions of all kinds with which it abounded. For as it was the original intention of Theopompus to write a history of the whole of Greece (comp. Plb. 8.13), he eagerly availed himself of every opportunity that occurred to give an account of other Greek states. Such a digression sometimes occupied several books, as we learn from Diodorus (16.71), who informs us that the 41st, 42d, and 43d books were devoted to the history of Sicily. Moreover in these digressions Theopompus did not confine himself to contemporaneous events, but frequently ascended to fabulous times. The digressions in fact formed by far the larger part of the work; and Philip V. king of Macedonia, was able, by omitting them and retaining only what belonged to the proper subject, to reduce the work from fifty-eight books to sixteen. (Phot. l.c.) Fifty-three of the fifty-eight books of the original work were extant in the ninth century of the Christian aera, and were read by Photius, who has preserved an abstract of the twelfth book. (Phot. l.c.) The five books lost in the time of Photius were the 6th, 7th, 9th, 20th, and 30th, and these were, without doubt, the same five books, which were missing as early as the time of Diodorus (16.3). The Hellenics probably perished earlier, as they were less celebrated : Photius, at least, appears not to have read them. The two works, the Hellenics and Philippics, contained together, according to Theopompus's own statement, 150,000 lines (Phot. l.c.) The Philippics are constantly quoted by the ancient writers, and many fragments of them are preserved.


The Orationes were chiefly Panegyrics, and what the Greeks called Συμβουλευτικοὶ λόγοι. Besides the Panegyric on Mansolus, which has been already alluded to, Theopompus wrote Panegyrics on Philip and Alexander (Theon, Progymn. pp. 19, 103; Suidas, s. v. Ἔφορος). Of his Συμβουλευτικοὶ λόγοι, one of the most celebrated was addressed to Alexander on the state of Chios, and is variously cited by the ancients under the titles of Συμβουλαὶ πρὸς Ἀλέξανδρον (Athen. 6.230f.), Συμβουλευτικὸν πρὸς Ἀλεξάνδρον (Cic. Att. 12.40), and Ἐπιστολὴ πρὸς Ἀλέξανδρον (Athen. 13.595).

5. Κατὰ Πλάτωνος διατπιβή

Athen. 11.508c; Diog. Laert, 3.40), was perhaps a digressions in his Philippics; and the same appears to have been the case with his work which is cited under the title of

6. Περὶ εὐσεβείας

(Schol. ad Aristoph. Birds 1354 ; Porphyr. de Abstin. 2.16).

Anaximenes' work published under Theopompus' name to injure Theopompus

The work which Anaximenes published under the name of Theopompus, in order to injure his rival, is spoken of in the life of the former. [Vol. I. p. 166b.]


Theopompus is praised by Dionysius of Halicarnassus (l.c.) as well as by other ancient writers for his diligence and accuracy; but he is at the same time blamed by most writers for the extravagance of his praises and censures. He is said, however, to have taken more pleasure in blaming than in commending; and many of his judgments respecting events and characters were expressed with such acrimony and severity that several of the ancient writers speak of his malignity, and call him a reviler (Corn. Nep. Alcib. 100.11; Clem. Alex. i. p. 316; Lucian, Quomodo Histor. conscrib. 100.59 ; Plut. Lys. 100.30; Plb. 8.12). It would seem that the vehemence of the temper of Theopompus frequently overcame his judgment, and prevented him from expressing himself with the ealmness and impartiality of an historian. The ancients also blame Theopompus for introducing innumerable fables into his history (Cic. de Leg. 1.1; Aelian, Ael. VH 3.18).

The style of Theopompus was formed on the model of Isocrates, and possessed the characteristic merits and defects of his master. It was pure, clear, and elegant, but deficient in vigour, loaded with ornament, and in general too artificial. It is praised in high terms by Dionysius of Haliearnassus (l.c.), but is spoken of in very different language by other critics. (Longin. de Subl. 100.43 ; Demetr. Phal. περὶ ἑρμην. § 75; Plut. Praec. ger. Reip. 100.6, p. 803b.)


The fragments of Theopompus have been published by Wichers, under the title of Theopompi Chii Fragmenta, collegit, disposuit et explicavit, &c. R. H. Eyssonius Wichers, Lugd. Bat. 1829, and by C. and Theod. Müller in the Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, Paris, 1841.

Further Information

The life of Theopompus prefixed to the collections of Fragments by Wichers and Müller; Aschbach, Dissert. de Theopomp. Francof. 1823; Pflugk, De Theopomp. Vita et Scriptis, Berol. 1827; Vossius, De Historicis Graecis, p. 59, foll., ed. Westermann; Clinton, Fasti Hellenici, vol. ii. p. 374, foil. 2nd ed.

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