Logographers

Logographers

 

(1) Authors of the first works of ancient Greek historical prose. The first logographers appeared in Ionia in the mid-sixth century B.C. Two generations of logographers are distinguished: the older (from the sixth to the first half of the fifth century; Cadmus of Miletus, Hecataeus of Miletus, Charon, and Scyllax) and the younger (second half of the fifth century; Xanthus, Pherecydes, and Hellanicus).

Relying on myths and legends, the logographers sought to reestablish the legendary history of the Greek poleis and the barbarian countries, as well as the genealogy of aristocratic families (this is apparent from the surviving fragments of the works of Hecataeus, Charon, and Xanthus). Some works of the logographers, based on personal impressions from travels, contain valuable ethnographic and geographic information (Hecataeus and Scyllax). The younger logographers utilized city chronicles and lists of officials in their attempt to establish the chronological order of events of early Greek history. The most famous is the Atthis by Hellanicus, a chronicle of events from the history of Athens and ancient Greek poleis.

The logographers believed that epic traditions were based on real events; they attempted to identify these events by the naive and rationalistic interpretation of myths and by the elimination of incongruities and supernatural elements. Only scant fragments have been preserved from the works of the logographers. Excerpts from the works of the logographers have been published in the following editions: C. Müller, Fragmenta historicorum Graecorum, vols. 1–5, Paris, 1846–70; F. Jacoby, Die Fragmente der griechischen Historiker, vols. 2–3, Leiden, 1961–64.

REFERENCE

Pearson, L. Early Ionian Historians. Oxford, 1939.
(2) Writers of speeches for litigants in Athenian courts (beginning in the late fifth century B.C.). They prepared speeches which matched the personality of the “client.” The most celebrated logographer was Lysias.
References in classic literature ?
This mythical tale, of which the subject was a history of the wars of the Athenians against the Island of Atlantis, is supposed to be founded upon an unfinished poem of Solon, to which it would have stood in the same relation as the writings of the logographers to the poems of Homer.
To this we may add the customary mistrust of professional logographers the average Athenian felt.