Hecataeus of Miletus

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Hecataeus of Miletus


Born circa 546 B.C.; died 480 B.C. Ancient Greek historian and geographer. One of the earliest Greek prose writers.

Hecataeus of Miletus wrote Travels Around the Earth (a work in two parts: Europe, which includes northern Asia, and Asia, which includes Egypt and Libya). It was one of the first regional-type geographic studies. This work was apparently accompanied by a map depicting the oikoumene (the inhabited portion of the land area of the world). Hecataeus’ map has never been found, but a partial reconstruction of the map, based on the accounts of Herodotus and other authors, and the more than 300 surviving fragments of his Travels Around the Earth do provide a clear idea of the geographic notions of the ancient Greeks. Genealogies, another work by Hecataeus of Miletus (fragments have survived), contained ancient Greek myths and legends arranged in the form of a historical account.


Hecataeus [of Miletus], Fragmenta. Text, introduction, appendix, indexes, and edited by G. Nenci. Florence [1954].
In Russian translation:
Latyshev, V. V. “Izvestiia drevnikh pisatelei o Skifii i Kavkaze.” Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1948, no. 1.
Sheffer, V. “Ocherki grecheskoi istoriografii.” Universitetskie izvestiia (Kiev), 1883, nos. 1, 3; 1884, nos. 5, 6, 7.


El’nitskii, L. A. Znaniia drevnikh o severnykh stranakh. Moscow, 1961.
Thomson, J. O. Istoriia drevnei geografii. Moscow, 1953. (Translated from English.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Beginning with the theme of cognitive geography, Cunliffe reviews the earliest map of Europe by Hecataeus of Miletus as well as Herodotus's vivid description as illustrations of ways of seeing.
Now Hecataeus of Miletus says of the Peloponnesus that before the time of the Greeks it was inhabited by barbarians.
According to Jacoby, Dionysius in his enumeration of the archaioi sungrapheis incorrectly lumps together local chroniclers (such as Hellanicus of Mytilene) with writers (such as Hecataeus of Miletus and Acusilaus of Argos) who - on Jacoby's definition of the genre - were not.
Strabo also observes (8.3.9) that the archaioi sungrapheis, such as Hecataeus of Miletus, and the poets, such as Homer, intermixed false myths with the truth and thus often contradicted one another in their accounts of the deeds of heroes.