2. A celebrated Lydian historian, older than Herodotus, who is said to have been indebted to the work of Xanthus (Ephor. apud Ath.
xii. p. 515, Ἡροδότῳ τὰς ἀφορμὰς δεδωκότος
; the statement about his influence on Herodotus is questioned by Dahlmann, de Herod.
p. 121). Suidas makes him the son of Candaules, and a native of Sardis ; but there is reason to believe that these statements rest on no good authority. Strabo (xiii. p.628
a.) mentions him in the following terms :--" And Xanthus, the ancient historian, is said to have been a Lydian; but whether he was of Sardis, we do not know." Suidas fixes his date "at the taking of Sardis," which, if there be any truth in it, must refer to the taking of Sardis by the Ionians in B. C. 499.
This date, however, appears to be rather too high, when compared with the mention of Xanthus by Dionysius of Halicarnassus (de Jud. Thuc.
p. 818), among the writers who were " a little older than the Peloponnesian war, and whose time reached down to that of Thucydides."
There is another indication of the date of Xanthus, proving, if the quotation be genuine, that he wrote, or continued to write, his history after B. C. 464; for Strabo (i. p.49
c.) tells us that he mentioned a great drought in the reign of Artaxerxes, who came to the throne in B. C. 464.
It is therefore the opinion of critics, either that the date given by Suidas must be that of the birth of Xanthus, which is a most unusual sense of γεγονώς
in Suidas, or else that the passage has been corrupted by a transcriber, who accidentally repeated the word Σάρδεων
. (The passage is Ξάνθος
, Αυδὸς ἐκ Σάρδεων: ἱστορικός: γεγονὼς ἐπὶ τῆς ἁλώσεως Σάρδεων
This is the suggestion of Creuzer, who proposes to substitute Ἀθηνῶν
, thus referring the time of Xanthus to the taking of Athens by Xerxes, in B. C. 480; but, though this correction may give a truer date for Xanthus, it can hardly be accepted as being what Suidas wrote.
A far more important question, than this difference of twenty years or so in the date of Xanthus, is that of the genuineness of the Four Books of Lydian History
(Λυδιακὰ βιβλία δ́
, Suid.), which the ancients possessed, as well as an epitome of them by a certain Menippus (D. L. 6.101
, [Μένιππος] ὁ γράψας τὰ περὶ Λυδῶν καὶ Ξάνθον ἐπιτεμόμενος
), and of which some considerable fragments have come down to us.
The genuineness of the work was questioned by some of the ancient grammarians themselves.
The most important testimony on this subject is in the passage above cited from Athenaeus, who quotes a statement as made " by Xanthus the Lydian, or by the author of the Histories
ascribed to him, namely Dionysius Scytobrachion, as Artemon of Cassandreia says (ἐν τῷ περὶ συναγωγῆς [ἀναγωγῆς] βιβλίων
), not knowing that Ephorus the historian mentions him, &c" It will be at once seen that the reply of Athenaeus to the statement of Artemon only proves, what no one doubts, the existence and time of Xanthus, not the genuineness of the work ascribed to him.
An argument in support of the genuineness of the work has been drawn by the exalted terms of praise in which Dionysius of Halicarnassus speaks of Xanthus (l.c. ἱστορίας παλαιᾶς εἰ καί τις ἄλλος ἔμπειρος ὢν
, τῆς δὲ πατρίου καὶ βεβαιωτὴς ἂν οὐδενὸς ὑποδεέστερος νομισθείς
But here we have no reference to the genuineness of the work, the tacit assumption of which by such a writer as Dionysius can hardly be set up as a strong argument in reply to the positive critical judgment of Artemon; especially as instances might be quoted (see Müller, loc. inf : cit.
) in which Dionysius has made similar references to other works, which more ancient writers have pronounced to be spurious; and moreover there is a passage in which Dionysius himself makes a passing allusion to the doubts respecting the genuineness of certain ancient writers, in a matter which seems to imply that he did not care to enter minutely into such questions; and it is very probable, when we consider the nature of the fragments which have come down to us under the name of Xanthus, as well as the character of the historical work of Dionysius himself, that the admiration of the latter for the former was rather excited by his richness in mythical stories, than caused by any sound critical estimate of his value as a trustworthy historian. Among modern scholars, Creuzer, in his edition of the fragments of Xanthus, has maintained the genuineness of the work, while Welcker has constructed an elaborate argument against it (Seebod's Archiv. 1830.
pp. 70, foll.), a summary of which is given by C. Müller (loc. inf. cit.
) who accepts the conclusion of Welcker.
It is certain that much of the matter in the extant fragments is spurious; and the probability appears to be that the work from which they are taken is the production of an Alexandrian grammarian, founded upon the genuine work of Xanthus. C. Müller has pointed out those passages which, in his opinion, are most probably portions of the original work. They are of great value.
On Magian Religion
A work on the Magian religion (μαγικά
) was also ascribed to Xanthus (Clem. Al. Strom. iii. p. 185
; Diog. Laert. Praef. 2).
Life of Empedocles
the Life of Empedocles,
which is mentioned by Diogenes Laertius (8.63) as the work of Xanthus, should probably be referred to another writer of the same name.
Creuzer, Historicorum Graec. Antiquiss. Fragmenta, Heidelb. 1806, 8vo.
; C. Müller, Fraqmenta Historicorum Graecorum pp. xx-23.36-44.
Fabric. Bibl. Graec.
vol. ii. p. 159; Vossius, de Hist. Graec.
pp. 32-34, ed. Westermann; K. O. Müller, Gesch. d. Griech. Lit.
vol. i. p. 478, p. 264, Engl. trans.