Digression on the Merits of the Historians Zeno and Antisthenes of Rhodes
As some episodical historians have written on the
The necessity of discussing the histories of Zeno and Antisthenes.
period which embraces the affair at Messene and the sea-fights
already described, it is my intention to discuss them briefly.
I will not however speak of them all, but only those whom I
suppose to be worthy of commemoration and full discussion.
These are the Rhodian writers Zeno and Antisthenes, whom I judge to deserve this distinction,
for more than one reason. They were contemporary with the events, and were engaged in
practical politics; and, lastly, they composed their histories
with no view to gain, but for the sake of fame, and as part of
the business of politicians. Since then they write of the same
events as myself, I cannot omit mentioning them; lest, from
the reputation of their country, and the idea that naval affairs
are peculiarly the province of Rhodians, some students may
prefer their authority to mine where I differ from them.
Now both these writers, to begin with, describe the
Their description of the battle of Lade. See ch. 10.
Lade as not less severe than that of Chios, but
more fiercely and daringly contested, both in
detail and as a whole, and finally assert that the
victory was with the Rhodians. For my part I should be
inclined to allow that historians must show some partiality to
their own countries; not however that they should state what
is exactly opposite to the facts regarding them. There are
quite enough mistakes which writers make from ignorance,
and which it is difficult for poor human nature to avoid: but
if we deliberately write what is false for the sake of country,
friends, or favour, how do we differ from those who do the
same to get a living? For as the latter, by measuring everything by the standard of private gain, ruin the credit of their
works, so your politicians often fall into the same discredit by
yielding to the influence of hatred or affection. Therefore
readers ought to be jealously watchful on this head; while
writers ought to be on their guard for their own sakes.