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Hecataeus

Hecataeus (c. 550 BC - c. 476 BC), was a Greek historian, a native of Miletus of a wealthy family. He flourished during the time of the Persian invasion. After having travelled extensively, he settled in his native city, where he occupied a high position, and devoted his time to the composition of geographical and historical works. When Aristagoras[?] held a council of the leading Ionians at Miletus, to organize a revolt against the Persian rule, Hecataeus in vain tried to dissuade his countrymen from the undertaking (Herodotus V. 36, 125). In 494 BC, when the defeated Ionians were obliged to sue for terms, he was one of the ambassadors to the Persian satrap Artaphernes[?], whom he persuaded to restore the constitution of the Ionic cities (Diodorus Siculus. X. 25).

Some have credited him with a work entitled Ges Periodos (“Travels round the Earth “), in two books, one on Europe, the other on Asia, in which were described the countries and inhabitants of the known world, the account of Egypt being particularly comprehensive; the descriptive matter was accompanied by a map, based upon Anaximander’s map of the earth, which he corrected and enlarged. The authenticity of the work is in doubt. The only certainly genuine work of Hecataeus was the Genealogiai, a systematic account of the traditions and mythology of the Greeks.

He was probably the first to attempt a serious prose history and to employ critical method to distinguish myth from historical fact, though he accepts Homer and other poets as trustworthy authorities. Herodotus, though he once at least controverts his statements, is indebted to Hecataeus for the concept of a prose history.

Based on the 1911 Britannica article



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