Biographia classica: the lives and characters of all the classic authors, the Grecian and Roman poets, historians, orators, and biographers. With an historical and critical account of them and their writings .. (Volume 2) online

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The GRECIAN and ROMAN Poets,

Hiftorians, Orators, and Biographers.


of Them and their Writings :

IHuftrating their feveral EXCELLENCIES, and
{hewing their DEFECTS, from the JUDGMENT
and REMARKS of the moft Celebrated CRITICS,
both Antient and Modern.

The SECOND EDITION, Correfted and Improved.

To which is now added,

At the End of every Life, a LIST of the left and
moft curious Editions of each ClalHc Author.

" VOL. II. '


Printed for D A N i E L B R d w N E, at the Black Swan*
without Tetnple-&ar. M Dec L .




R 1936 L



Containing the LIVES of the
Grecian Hiftorians,

HErodotus. Page I
Thucydides. 16


Page 71

Xenophon. 27

Dio Ca/fius*


Demofthenes, 35



Polybius. 50



Diodorus Siculus. 60



Dionyfius Halicamaf. 66


The Roman Hiftorians.

CAius Crifpus Sal-
luftius. 117

Caius Julius Casfar. 130
Marcus Tullius Ci-
cero. 146
Cornelius Nepos. 166
Titus Livius. 172
Velleius Paterculus. 189
.Quintus Curtius Ru-
;=r fus, 196

Titus Petronius Af -

biter. 203

Cornelius Tacitus. 215
Lucius Annaeus Flo-

rus. 231

Suetonius Tranquil-

lus. 237

Plinius Junior. 246
M. Junianus Jufti-

nus, 260



EDITIONS of the Historians


HErodotus. Page 16
Thucydides. 26

Diodorus Siculus. 65
Dionyfius Halicarnaf. 71



Page 76





Dio Caflius.

9 1












Crifpus Sal-
luftius. 129

Caius Julius Csefar. 145
Marcus Tullius Ci-
cero. 165
Cornelius Nepos. 171
Titus Livius. 188
Velleius Paterculus. 195
Quintus Curtius Ru-
fus. 202

Titus Petronius Ar-

biter. 214

Cornelius Tacitus. 230
Lucius Annaeus Flo-

rus, 236

Suetonius Tranquil-

lus. 245

Plinius Junior. 259
M. Junianus Jufti-

nus, 263









, or as others write
it Erodo'titS) is the moft ancient of
ff S/JJ t ^ ie Greek Hiftorians, whofe Works
have reached our hands; and tho' in
<o ^s"-**to & ^ ome P ar ts of his Hiilory there ap-
^MHW^ pear fome Particulars which feem
fabulous, which he relates on the Credit of others,
and which he himfelf acknowledges to be dubious
V ; QL. II. B and

2 Lives of the GRECIAN Htftorians.

and incredible.; that cannot deprive his Work of
the Character of a real Hiftory, nor can it be de-
nied, that he has faithfully tranfmitted whatever
he could poffibly attain any certain Knowledge
of, with regard to the ancient Hiftory of the
Egyptians, Adrians, Medes, Lydians and Greeks.
He fpared no Pains to colled the beft Informa-
tion that could be had. To that end, he travel-
led into Egypt i faw all the principal Cities, care-
fully yiewed the chief Curiofities and moft re-
markable Places > and converfed with the Priefts
of that Country, who informed him of their
ancient Hiftory, and acquainted him with their
Cuftoms facrei and civil. Indeed, he fpeaks of
their religious Rites with fuch Plainnefs and
Clearnefs in fome Cafes, and fuch Referve and
Reverence in others, that I am apt to believe
he was initiated into their Ceremonies, and con-
.fecrated a Prieft of fome of their Orders. He
likewife vifited feveral Parts of Greece, Thrace
and Scythia : He went to Babylon and Tyre, and
was in Arabia and Pale/line. Thus, being ac-
quainted with the moft famous Countries, and
valuable Things, and knowing the moft confi-
derable Perfons of the Age, he applied himfelf
to write the Hiftory of the Greeks and Barba-
rians ; and performed the noble Work with that
Judgment, Faithfulnefs and Eloquence, that
gained him univerfal Applaufe and Appro-

THIS great Writer, according to Pampbyfa,
cited by Aulus Gelllus, muft be born in the fijft
Year of the feventy-fourth Olympiad, fince he
was Fifty-three at the Beginning of the Pelopon-
tiefian War, and but four Years old when
JCtrxes marched into Greece. There is no room



left to doubt the Place of his Birth, fince he"
has himfelf inferted in the Beginning of his
Work, both his Name and Country, This is the
Hljlory of Herodotus of Halicarnaifus, a City of
that Part of Greece called Doris, a Region con-
fining on the Mel cans : So that we need not have
recourfe to Dionyjlus of Halicarnaffus, or any
other Authors, to find what Countryman he was,
But it is yet necelTary to obferve, that he was
alfo furnamed the Thurian > the Reafoh of which
Strabo gives to this purpofe : Herodotus^ the Hi-
florian, v/as of HalicarnafftiS) and afterwards
called the Thurian, becaufe he went into Italy
with a Colony fent by the Athenians to build a
City, which they called Thurium^ near the Ruins
of the ancient Si bar if. Hence it is, that the Em-
peror 'Julian, in one of his Epiitles, calls him
the Thurian Hiftorian.

WE are not fo certainly informed of the
Names of his Father and Mother, tho' the com-
mon Opinion, according to Suidas^ was, that the
Name of his Father v/as Lyxus^ and Dryo that of
his Mother : but, that we are wholly ignorant
of his Circumftances and Fortune. 'Tis yet
faid, that his Parents were of a genteel Family,
and that he had a Brother named Theodortts*
The City of Halicarnajjus being at that time
under the Domination of Lygdamis^ Grand-foil,
of Artemifia Queen of Caria, Herodotus quitted
his Country in fearch of that Liberty which is
neceflary to learned Men, and retired to Samos i
from whence he travelled to Egypt, Italy^ and
through all Greece ; and in his Travels, as was
obferved before, acquired the Knowledge of the
Origin and Hiftory of Nations. He then be-
gan his Hiftory^ sad having laboured in that

B 2 Work

4 Lives of t be GRECIAN Hiftoridns.

Work in the Ifle of Samos* he returned to his
own Country, expelled the Tyrant, and finding
himfelf for that Reafon expofed to the Envy of
his Fellow-Citizens, went into Greece.

THE principal Defign which he propofed in
his Hiftory, was, to write the Per/tan Wars a-
gainft the Greeks* from the Reign of Cyrus to
that of Xerxes > but he alfo extended it to the
Hiftory of other Nations. Tho' his Hiftory ends
with the Battle of Plate a and Mytale* it doth
not begin before the eighth Year of the Reign
of Xerxes* nor end till the Peloponnejian War, as
he has obferved in feveral Places ; amongft others,
in his feventh Book, where he fays, that long
after Xerxes returned to the Lacedtemonwns the
Embafladors which had been fent to him to ferve
as Reprifals for thofe which were killed at Sparta*
he ftirred up a War betwixt the Peloponnefians
and the Athenians, which he believed to have
been raifed by^e .Wrath of God; becaufe the
Athenians killed' the Embaftadors which the La-
cedamonians fent into Afia* which happened in
the fecond Year of the Peloponnefian War. He
touches on this agpin in his Ninth Book, w^here
he fays, that in "the War which long atter broke
out between the Athenians andPehponrtcfans, the
Lacedemonians ravaging the Athenian Territories,
fpared Decelaa; which, Thucydides lays, hap-
pened in the nineteenth Year of the Pelopon-
nefmn War, and the laft Year of the Ninety-
nrft Olympiad. Yet Eufebius on the Eighty-
third Olympiad obierves, that he that Year re-
cited his Books at Athens* in the Feftival of the
Panathenxa. Others fay, that it was at Olympus
in the AfTembly of the Olympic Games ; both of
which may be true : For Hersdotus, after having



recited Tome Parts of his Hiftory at the Olympic
Games the firft Year of the Eighty-third Olym-
piad, might come to Athens and recite them at
the Panathentfa, where it was much more proper
than at the Olympic Games j becaufe Hotner*s
Verfes were recited there, and Crowns and Re-
wards beftowed on thofe who fucceeded well.
It is not known whether it was at Oly?npus or
Athens* that (as 'tis faid) Tbucydides was fo
touched with Emulation, that he refolved to
undertake the writing of a Hiftory, and en-
deavour to equal or excel tferodatttr. Ewfebliis
obferves in his Chronicle, that it was in die
fourth Year of the Eighty-third Olympiad,
that Herodotus recited his Hiftory at Athens,
but it muft have been the third Year ; for in
that fame Year he was fent, as we have already
hinted, to Thurii. Pliny fays, he compiled his
Hiftory in the Year of the Foundation of Rome
Three Hundred, which cannot be wholly true,
fince he recited it at Athens four Years before.
But how will that agree with what we have
alledged, that there are mentioned Events which
happened in the fecond and nineteenth Years of
the Pehpontiefian War, that is fixteen and twen-
five Years after ?

THIS is yet not difficult to conceive, if we
read what Lucian tells us of the great Addrefs
which our Author made ufe of to raife a great
Reputation over all Greece^ in a fmall time, and
with Eafe. Herodotus^ fays he, having left Caria
to go into Greece, employed his Thoughts in con-
triving Methods, by which in a frnall time,
without much Trouble, he might acquire a large
ftock of Glory and Reputation for his Perfon
and Works. He forefaw it would be a tedious

B 3 and

6 Lives of ^GRECIAN Hijfarians.

and fatiguing Tafk, to go to the refpeclive Pla-
ces, and recite them to the Corinthians^ Athenians)
Argives and Lacedemonians^ he imagined that he
ought to find them all affembled together 5 it
happened very luckily, that they were then ail
going to celebrate the Olympian Games. He
concluded this Time very proper for the Execu-
tion of his Defign, and that he had met with
the Opportunity which he was in queft of; for
he fhould now find a vaft Concourfe of the
principal and moft feledl People of all Greece*
He appeared then on the Theatre, not as a bare
Spectator, but in order to commence an Actor
in the QfympickS) reciting his Hiftories and charm-
ing the Auditory j which occafioned the giving
of the Names of the Nine Mufes to his Books*
This rendred him more famous than even thofe
who bore away the Frizes in the Olympic Games,
None were ignorant .of the Name of Herodotus^
nor was there a fmgle Perfon in Greece who had
not either feen him at the Qlympicks y or heard
ihofe fpeak of him that came from thence. So
that in what Place foever he came, the Inha-
bitants pointed with their Finger, faying, This
is that Herodotus who has written the Pcrfian
Wars in the Ionic Dialed! : This is he who has
celebrated our Victories. Thus the Harveft
which he reaped from his Hiftories, was the
receiving in one Afiembly the general Applaufe
of all Greece ; and the founding his Fame, not
only in one Place and by a fmgle Trumpet, but
in all the Cities of Greece by as many Mouths
as there had been Spectators in that A (Terribly.
This may help us to comprehend, that Hero-
dotus did not recite the whole Nine Books of his
Hiflory in one continued Series in the Olympic

Afleinblies a


AfTemblies, but only fome Parts of them, and
thofe Places which concerned the Greeks. He
did not then publifh the entire Body, but only
{hewed fome Specimen of this Work ; which he
might afterwards retouch and finifli, when at
Thurii. But thefe two PafTages, which we have
alledged, (hew, that he lived a long Time
after* For, if the laft of them is really his,
which there is no room 'to doubt, it follows, that
he did not put his laft Hand to this Work till
after the Nineteenth Year of the P eloponnefian
War, that is the fourth Year of the Ninety-firft
Olympiad, when he was aged about Seventy-two
Years. Scaliger computes his Age, making him to
have lived precifely the Space of thirteen Olympiads,
that is, Fifty-two Years : For fo long lived the
fweeteft Mufe of Ionia, as he calls him ; and then
goes on thus : He is the moft antient Writer in
Profe that is now extant, the Treafury of the Gre-
cian and Barbarian Antiquities ; an Author never
to be out of the Hands of the Learned, nor to be
touched by the Half-learned, the Pedagogues and
the Apes of Learning.

HE divided his Work into Nine Books, and
gave to each of them the Name of one of the
Nine Mufes : For 'tis much more probable, that
he himfelf called them by thofe Names, than
that, as Litcian imagines, other Perfons beftowed
thofe Titles upon them, moved thereto by the
Efteem they had for them. This Cafe is dif-
ferent from that of the Three Orations and Nine
Epiftles of &f chines, which are called by the
Names of the Three Graces, and the Nine Mufes ;
but they do not bear thofe Names in their Ti-
tles. Several, fmce Herodotus, in Imitation of

B 4 him,


him, have given the Names of the Mufes to the
Books of their Works.

THE Style of this Writer has been admired by
all acquainted with Antiquity. Cicero, the beit
Judge that can be alledged in this Cafe, fays in
his Second Book of the Orator, that Herodotus
is fo eloquent that nothing pleafed him more ;
and in his Brutus, that his Style is free from all
Harfhnefs, and glides along like the Waters of a
ftill River: And, to fhew his Efteem, he ufes
the higheft Expreffion the Roman Language is
capable of, %Hng him The Father of Hijtory ;
not becaufe he was the moft ancient, for befidep
others of lefs Fame, Hellanicus of Mttylene 9 and
Charon of Lampfacus, were before him ; but judg-
ing him the Prince of Hiftorians, he gave him the
Title of Father, which the Romans ever ufed to
denote a Perfon moft illuftrious and highly de-
ferring of the Commonwealth, ^ulnullan, who
was an excellent Critick, gives the fame Judg-
ment. As for Herodotus, fays he, befides tiie
flowing Sweetnefs of his Style, even the Dialect
itfelf, which he ufes, has a certain Grace ; fo
that it feems to contain concealed Numbers.
Several have wrote Hiftory well, but no Man
doubts there are two Hiftorians preferable to all
the reft : They have two different Qualities,
which deferve very near the fame Efteem.
Tbucydides is clofe, concife, and fometimes
even crouds himfelf j Herodotus is fweet, natural
and prolix. The nrft is more proper for thofe
whofe Paffions are quick 3 the fecond for thofe
who are fedate : The one excels in Orations,
the other in Narrations 5 the one has more Force,
the other more Delicacy. If we appeal to the
Judgment of Hiftorians, Dion tells us, that his



Difcourfe is grave and delicate ; Dionyfas of
Haljcarnaffus^ that he is the Model of the Ionic
Dialecl, as Thticydides is of the Attic. And
defcendrag to Particulars concerning his Style, he
thus defcribes it : Herodotus very much fur-
pailed all others in the Choice of his Words, and
Juftice of his Composition, and the Variety of
his Figure-". His Difcourfe is compofed in fuch
a manner that it refembles an excellent Poem in
its perfuafive Art, and that charming Grace
which pleafes in the higheft degree. He has not
omitted any of the beautiful and great Qualities,
unlefs it be in that manner of Writing adapted to
Contefts arid Difputes ; either becaufe he was
naturally not made for it, or that he defpifed it
as not agreeable to Hiftory : For he doth not
make ufe of a great Number of Orations, nor
Speeches to promote Contention, nor has he the
neceiTary Force requifite to excite the Paflions
and amplify and augment Things. But it may
juftly be faid, that in Recompenfe his Narrations
are eloquent and agreeable ; that his Defcriptions
are exa&, natural and faithful ; and his Reflec-
tions beautiful and judicious. In fhort, through-
out his Work there appears the noble Simplicity
and charming Sincerity, w&fch are the moft
efientiai Qualities of a good Hiflory. Dionyfius
extols the Happinefs of this Writer, in chuiing
a Subject of the greateft Dignity, that mewed
his Country in the utmoft Glory, and proved to
a Demonitration by the uniform SucceiTes of the
Battles of Marathon, Salamis, Plataa and Mycale^
that Superiority of Numbers was but a feeble
Defence to the great King of Per/ia 9 againft the
military Virtue and excellent Difcipline of the
Grecians* He _conurfids die Smoothneis and

B 5

I o Lives of the GRE ci AN Hi/Ion ans.

unaffected Simplicity of his Narration, the De-
cency of his Speeches moft artfully adapted to the
Character of every Perfon, together with the
beautiful Order and Compofition of his Hiftory,
\vhich, by following Things, not Time, ever
charms to the laft Syllable, and leaves the Rea-
der with a Defire of more : Preferring him to
Thucydides in every thing, except Brevity, Vehe-
mence and clofe Reafoning.

HERODOTUS^ fays Raptn, is not every
where over-exact, becaufe he took in too much
Matter ; but flill I find him of Sincerity more
than ordinary, fince he treats of the Greeks and
Barbarians^ thofe of his own Country and Stran-
gers, without the leaft Shew of Partiality. Yet
he ftrays too much, he frequently leaves his
Matter to amufe himfelf with tedious Digreffions,
which are for the moft part forced and unnatural,
wherein he follows -the Example of Homer ^ but
with lefs Succefs. Longinus obferves, that he has
ab perfectly imitated Homer in his Dialect, that
he deferves the Name of Omerikotatos.

As to the Truth of his Hiftdry, it muft be
owned, that Herodotus has been accufed by feveral
Authors, of not always clofely following it.
Ctefias fufpects him in the Hiftories of the Medes
and Aflyrians. Manethon cenfures his Egyptian
Hiftory. And it is true, that what he relates
before Pfammetychus, and on the Credit of o-
thers, is not very certain, which he confefies
himfelf. 'Tis faid, that Thucydides had Hero-
dotus in his eye, w T hen he ceni'ured thofe Hifto- 1
ries which were compiled for no other End than
to divert the Reader ; and which, though they
pleafed him at the Moment, yet left him with-
out any Fruit of his Reading. Strabo particu-


larly accufes our Author of this Fault : He tells us,
that Herodotus trifles very agreeably, interweaving
extraordinary Events with his Narration to fupply
the Place of Song, Verfe and Ornament. Juvenal
alfo aims at him, when he fays that Ships failed
over Mount Atbos^ and that the Grecian Hiftory
was full of Lyes :

-Creditor dim

Velipcaiiis Athos, & quiconid Graecia mtndax

Audet in Hiftoria,

BUT none have ventured to attack the Fidelity
of Herodotus with fo much Freedom as Plutarch ;
and his Judgment would be of great Weight if he
had not himfelf declared that the Intereft of his
Country had engaged him in the Difpute. Hero-
dotus relates, that in Xerxes's Expedition, the
ThebanS) to efcape their Ruin, abandoned the
Common Caufe, and joined with the Per/tans.
Tho' this Fa6t was true, and Dtmoftbenes after-
wards reproached the Thebsns with it, yet Plutarch
being a Native of Cheronaa, a 'Tbfban City,
could not bear this Affront to his Countrymen,
but in revenge difcharged his Choler againit the
Difcoverer of the bale Cowardice of his Ance-
ftors, in a Book wrote expreily for that purpofe,
and intitied, Of the Malignity of Herodotus. But
the Particulars which he objects againfr. him, are
either trifling, or fuch as Herodotus took upon the
Credit of others, and is not obliged to anfwer
for them ; or laftly, Plutarch himfelf, though he
blames, was miftaken in the Truth of them. In
a word, he betrays a great deal of Puerility and
perverfe Affectation in that Work,

B 6 On


ON the other Side, all Greece by their folemn
Approbation gave ample Teftimony of the Fide-
lity of Herodotus, in a Time when mcft of the
Fah by him related were very well known.
In his Book there appears a manifeft Character
of Sincerity, which even his Enemies have been
forced to acknowledge. He examines the Truth
of the Facts, which he relates ; he lays down
the different Sentiments, and endeavours to dif-
ccver the true one. When he relates extraor-
dinary Events, he tells us that hetock themfrorn
the Accounts of others ; he then declares which
he fufpects, and which he believes falfe ; adding,
jfs ? tisfaidi As I have heard, This does not feem
at all probable, Thofe who made theje Stories rtlati.
And he lays down for a Rule, that he writes
thofe Things which others report ; but that they
ought notTto be depended on, any farther than
they are probable ; that the Character of an
Hiftorian obliges him to relate what he hud
heard, but that he ought not to believe that all
that hath been told "him is true. After thefe
Precautions how can he be accufed of Lying,
when he relates incredible and fabulous Things
on the Credit of others ? It cannot be denied,
but that it was in his Power to acquaint himfelf
with the Grecian Hiftory, and that what he wrote
(fome Exaggerations- excepted) was true. Nor
ought his Abridgment of the Lydian Hiftory any
more to be fufpected, fmce that Empire was by
Situation a Neighbour to the dftatic Greeks, a-
mong whom Herodotus was born ; and the Ly-
dian Kings having long warred againft the
Greeks, and being fometimes obliged to invoke
their Aid, their Hiftcry was in a fort interwo-
ven with that of the Greeks. Befides, Herodotus


was born not above fixty Years after the De-
ftru&ion of the Lydian Empire ; fo that it was
not poffible that the Hiftory of that Nation
fhould be unknown to the neighbouring Greeks.
He feems very candid in his Egyptian Hiftory,
for he ingenuoufly owns, that all that he relates
before Pjammetychus is uncertain, and that he re-
ports it only on the Credit of the Egyptian Priefts,
on whom he did not much depend. Thofe,
fays he, who will conclude thefe Things are true,
are free to believe them : As for me, I only re-
port what has been told me by feveral Perfcns.
Thofe Things, favs he a<rain, as well as others

O ' j C '

which have been related to me, feem to be ar-
rant Fables. His Hiftory of the Ajjyrians and
Medes does not at all agree with that which the
modern Chronologifts have followed, but almoft
all the Ancients have given Herodotus the Prefe-
rence \ and feveral have attempted to reconcile
them. In his Perfian Hiftory, in many Particu-
lars, he differs from Xeftophons Cyrop&dia ; but we
ought to obferve here what Cicero fays of the latter
Piece, that it was not written with the exact Fide-
lity of an Hiftorian, but to lay down a Model of
a juft Empire.

THE only remaining Work of Herodotus
now extant, is his Hiftory in Nine Books,
respectively intitled with the Names of the
Nine Mufes. His chief Deiign was to compile
the Hiftory of the Perfian War againft the
Greeks, which might have been intitled a Per-
fian Hiftory, or Perfica, according to ancient
Cuftom. The fame Subject was treated on by
Dionyfeus of Miletus, Hellanicus of Mitylene, and
Charon of Lampfactts ; but the Labours of thefe
Authors did not divert him from undertaking a


1 4 Lives of the GRECIAN Hiftorians*

new Work ; being perfuaded that he was better
qualified for fuch an Attempt than they ; in
which he was not deceived in the Judgment of
Thesphraftus-) according to the Teftimony of
Cicero in his Orator^ where, fpeaking of Herodotus
and Tbucydides^ he fays, they were the firft, as
Theopbrti/h-is obferves, who raifed Hiftory, and
taught it a more copious and ornamental Style,
than the Authors that preceded them. Herodotus
promifes, in two Places of his firft Book, to write
the Hiftory of Ajjyrla : There have reigned, fays
he, feveral other Kings of Babylon, (whom I fhall
mention in my Hiftory of Afjyrla). And in an-
other Place : Thus the Medes retook the Empire,
and what they were formerly pofleffed of, and
feized Ninus, (how they took him, I mail fay in
another Book) and fubdued the Aflyriam* except
the Country of Babylon. But thefe Books of
Herodotus never appeared,; but were probably pre-
vented by his Death ; for if they had been ever
publifhed, 'tis fcarce to be believed that none of
the Ancients fhould mention them. His Repu-
tation was too great, and Subject too important,
to allow them to remain in Oblivion. 'Tis in-
deed true, that Ariftotle blames Herodotus for
faying, that an Eagle drank during the Siege of
Nineveh ; becaufe, as he affirms, that Bird as well
as all thofe that have forked Claws, never drink.
And this Fa& is not mentioned in all the Nine

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Online LibraryUnknownBiographia classica: the lives and characters of all the classic authors, the Grecian and Roman poets, historians, orators, and biographers. With an historical and critical account of them and their writings .. (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 19)