previous next

Flawed Structure of Theopompus's History

For, after premising that he is going to write about a king most richly endowed by nature with virtue, he has raked up against him every shameful and atrocious charge that he could find. There are therefore but two alternatives: either this writer in the preface to his work has shown himself a liar and a flatterer; or in the body of that history a fool and utter simpleton, if he imagined that by senseless and improper invective he would either increase his own credit, or gain great acceptance for his laudatory expressions about Philip.

But the fact is that the general plan of this writer is one

Thucydides breaks off in B. C. 411. Battle of Leuctra, B. C. 371.
also which can meet with no one's approval. For having undertaken to write a Greek History from the point at which Thucydides left off, when he got near the period of the battle of Leuctra, and the most splendid exploits of the Greeks, he threw aside Greece and its achievements in the middle of his story, and, changing his purpose, undertook to write the history of Philip. And yet it would have been far more telling and fair to have included the actions of Philip in the general history of Greece, than the history of Greece in that of Philip. For one cannot conceive any one, who had been preoccupied by the study of a royal government, hesitating, if he got the power and opportunity, to transfer his attention to the great name and splendid personality of a nation like Greece; but no one in his senses, after beginning with the latter, would have exchanged it for the showy biography of a tyrant. Now what could it have been that compelled Theopompus to overlook such inconsistencies? Nothing surely but this, that whereas the aim of his original history was honour, that of his history of Philip was expediency. As to this deviation from the right path however, which made him change the theme of his history, he might perhaps have had something to say, if any one had questioned him about it; but as to his abominable language about the king's friends, I do not think that he could have said a word of defence, but must have owned to a serious breach of propriety. . . .

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Theodorus Büttner-Wobst after L. Dindorf, 1893)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Greece (Greece) (4)

Visualize the most frequently mentioned Pleiades ancient places in this text.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
411 BC (1)
371 BC (1)
hide References (2 total)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: