Towards the Chronology of the Life and Work of the Historian Hellanicus

Surikov Igor E.

Hellanicus of Lesbos was one of the most prominent representatives of the fifth-century BC Greek historiography, and a prolific author. Hellanicus lived an extremely long life, but unfortunately we have got only very few reliably attested facts from it, both because the biographical data on him are scanty and because he has been rarely studied. As regards the dates of Hellanicus’ birth, which have been advanced in scholarly literature, the article argues for the date of 497/496 BC, going back to Apollodorus, as the most likely one. He must have died after 407/406 BC, as some events of that year are mentioned in fragments of his Atthis. In terms of genre, Hellanicus’ works are divided clearly enough into three groups: mythographical, chorographical, and chronological ones. The hypothesis suggested in the article is that they were written in exactly this sequence. In other words, at the beginning of his career, the historian’s priority topic was mythography, then he became interested in chorography, and in his late years he began to study seriously the problems of chronology. Such an evolution reflected the general development of Greek historical writing in the fifth century BC (Pherecydes of Athens – Herodotus – Thucydides).

Keywords: Hellanicus of Lesbos, early Greek historiography, mythography, chorography, chronology, Pherecydes of Athens, Charon of Lampsacus, Herodotus, Thucydides

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