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Criticism Of Theopompus

I do not know any one who deserves more blame in
The extravagance of Theopompus's account of Philip II.
this particular than Theopompus. In the beginning of his history of Philip he said that what chiefly induced him to undertake it was the fact that Europe had never produced such a man as Philip son of Amyntas; and then immediately afterwards, both in his preface and in the whole course of his history, he represents this king as so madly addicted to women, that he did all that in him lay to ruin his own family by this inordinate passion; as having behaved with the grossest unfairness and perfidy to his friends and allies; as having enslaved and treacherously seized a vast number of towns by force or fraud; and as having been besides so violently addicted to strong drink, that he was often seen by his friends drunk in open day. But if any one will take the trouble to read the opening passage of his forty-ninth book, he would be indeed astonished at this writer's extravagance. Besides his other strange statements he has ventured to write as follows—for I here subjoin his actual words:—"If there was any one in all Greece, or among the Barbarians, whose character was lascivious and shameless, he was invariably attracted to Philip's court in Macedonia and got the title of 'the king's companion.' For it was Philip's constant habit to reject those who lived respectably and were careful of their property; but to honour and promote those who were extravagant, and passed their lives in drinking and dicing. His influence accordingly tended not only to confirm them in these vices, but to make them proficients in every kind of rascality and lewdness. What vice or infamy did they not possess? What was there virtuous or of good report that they did not lack? Some of them, men as they were, were ever clean shaven and smooth-skinned; and even bearded men did not shrink from mutual defilement. They took about with them two or three slaves of their lust, while submitting to the same shameful service themselves. The men whom they called companions deserved a grosser name, and the title of soldier was but a cover to mercenary vice; for, though bloodthirsty by nature, they were lascivious by habit. In a word, to make a long story short, especially as I have such a mass of matter to deal with, I believe that the so-called 'friends' and 'companions' of Philip were more bestial in nature and character than the Centaurs who lived on Pelion, or the Laestrygones who inhabited the Leontine plain, or in fact any other monsters whatever."1

1 See also Athenaeus, 4, 166-167. Theopompus of Chius was a contemporary of Philip II. and Alexander, having been born about B. C. 376-372.

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    • Titus Livius (Livy), Ab urbe condita libri, erklärt von M. Weissenborn, books 43-44, commentary, 43.20
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