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Diodorus Siculus


Sub title: To Which Are Added the Fragment of Diodorus, and Those Published by H. Valesius, L. Rhodomannus, and F. Ursinus, Forgotten Books, 2018, a reprint of the London Edition 1814 edition translated by G. Booth


Reviewer Comment -
This is Vol 1. The Fragments are included in Vol II. This includes the author's historical descriptions from the begining of the world and origin of man in Book I, Chapter I to Roman war in Gaul and Persians at war in Cyprus and Philo ruling is Sicily all in Book XIV, Chapter XIII.
Of course Diodorus does not date events by using year numbers. - Rather, he will begin each chapter by naming the consuls in Rome, and/ or archons in Athens or other annual rulers - and on occasion the Olympiad or other event used by the ancients for chronology.
For instance in Book XI, Chapter XXII he begins by dating the outbreak of war between Epidarians and Athenians: "The former year ended, Philocies governed Athens the next; and at Rome, Aulus Posthumius and Sp. Furius were consuls.

When discussing events and especially decisions, motivations, and causes he always identifies the responsible individuals or peoples (Athenians, Lacedaemonians, Persians); never abstractions such as 'state'. By attempting to stick to chronological order the author will jump from one region to another and back - for instance from Persia to Greece to Sicily and even to Rome. But he will generally stick to one topic in one chapter, thus making many of them only one or two pages long.
I will insert modern dating at various points.


Books I and II describe ancient Egyptians and Near Easterners such as the Assyrians and Chaldeans, and the Amazons and Hyperboreans


Book III describes Etheopians, Africans, and inhabitants of Atlantic Islands.
Interesting to consider is that this classical era historians describes the Etheopians in very modern terms. "The Ethiopians say, that they were the first men that ever were in the world, and that, to prove this, they have clear demonstrations. For they say, they are natives of the country, and not strangers that came to settle there and are therefore, by general consent, almost of all men, called Autochthones; and that, in every man's opinion, it is most probable, that those who inhabit the south, were the first living men that sprang from the earth."


Book IV discusses Greek mythology as if it were history, although he recognizes the difference and even complains that the distortions and mixing greatly perplexes the historian.
As he writes: "I am not ignorant that the writers of antiquities in many things fall short of the truth in their relations. For being that ancient things are (as it were) scraped out of the rubbish with very great difficulty, they greatly perplex the historian."

We can say the same thing today, and not only about 'ancient things'.

But, he continues: "In this book we shall set forth the antiquity of the Grecians from the most ancient times, an therein treat of the gods and demigods, and of all others that have been famous and remarkable in feats of arms in time of war, or have found out what has been beneficial to mankind in times of peace, or such as have been law-makers".


Book V Begins with geographical descriptions of Sicily and the Aegean Islands and continues with chapters on other lands


Books VI through X are lost, unfortunate because the final one included the Persian campaign to Marathon and the events in Greece between 490 and 480 BC..


Book XI Preface
"The book before this, being the tenth in the whole composure of our history ends with things done in the year immediately before the descent of Xerxes into Europe, and with those debates in the general assemblies of the Grecians at Corinth, concerning the admission of Gelo into the Grecian confederacy.
In this to proceed, (as things were done), in a continued series of the history, we shall begin with Xerxes' expedition into Greece, and end the year immediately before the army of the Athenians, under Cimon their general, invaded Cyprus."


Book XI - Chapter I. this includes the opening of Xerxes' invasion with the battles at Thermopylae and Salamis.


Book XI - Chapter II is about the Carthaginians invasion of Sicily and their defeat by Gelon.


Book XI - Chapter III describes the Greek (Athenian - Spartan) defeat of the Persians (Mardonus) at Plataea


Book XI - Chapter IV describes the Greek victories at Mycalea and in Ionia


Book XI - Chapter V (2 pages) describes Gelon's death at Syracuse and Themistocles policy at Athens


Book XI - Chapter VI Discusses Themistocles - Pausanius and Aristides


Book XI - Chapter VII is about Hero in Sicily


Book XI - Chapter IX is about Hero defeating the Etruscans - 1/2 page


Book XI - Chapter X is about the war between the Tarentines and Japygians - 1/2 page


Book XI - Chapter XI - is about Agrigentium - another page


Book XI - Chapter XII is about Spartan personal attacks on Themistocles and his exile


Book XI - Chapter XIII is about Cimon's victories over the Persians - including at Eurymedonia


Book XI - Chapter XIV describes the earthquake and revolt of the Messenians and Helots against Spartans.


Book XI - Chapter XV describes the war between the Argives and Mycenaens


Book XI - Chapter XVI discusses the death of Hero - 1 page


Book XI - Chapter XVII is again about events in Syracuse


Book XI - Chapter XVIII describes the murder of Xerxes by Artabanus


Book XI - Chapter XIX describes the war between Athenians and Aeginians


Book XI - Chapter XX describes the Egyptian revolt against Persia (including the Athenian expedition) and events in Sicily


Book XI - Chapter XXI continues discussion of Persian expedition in Egypt (and defeat of the Athenians) and war in Sicily


Book XI - Chapter XXII discusses the war between Epidaurians and Athenians


Book XI - Chapter XXIII discusses the war between he Corinthians and Megareans


Book XI - Chapter XXIV discusses the war between the Athenians and the Boeotians


Book XI - Chapter XXV describes the Athenians' (commanded by Tolmides) invasion of the Spartans


Book XI - Chapter XXVI describes the war in Sicily between the Aegesteans and Lilybaeans -and related topics


Book XI - Chapter XXVII in this chapter Pericles attacks the Peloponnesians, and besieges Sicyon - also Phaylus invades Sicily


Book XI - Chapter XXVIII the Siculi general, Deucetius, attacked the Agrigentines but submitted to the Syraceusans who then sent him to Corinth


Book XII Preface
"He who seriously considers the uncertainty and instability of human affairs, must needs by struck with great admiration; for he will find that nothing which amongst men is accounted good, is purely such; nor any thing that is esteemed bad, is perfectly or absolutely evil, without some ingredient of profit and advantage; which lesson we may learn from what is before related, if we ponder and digest things well."

What a wonderful concept.

The author is thinking of and expresses the terrible fear the Greeks-had at the invasion by Xerxes, but then of the extraordinary growth of power, wealth, renown, philosophy and cultural advancement that their victory over the Persians brought them. In this book he proposes to continue the history by recounting Cimon's campaign to Cyprus and conclude with the Athenians first campaign against the Syracusans.


Book XII Chapter I The account of Cimon's campaign into Cyprus which resulted in the peace treaty between the Athenians and Persians, then up to his death on Cyprus


Book XII Chapter II The Megareans revolt against Athenians and are defeated. The Athenians are routed at Chaeronea by the Boeotians. Then many other cities revolt. Finally a peace treaty is concluded.


Book XII Chapter III The Agrigentians war against the Syracuseans. The Crotonians war against the Sybarites and Sybaris is razed. And events in other places.
A lengthy chapter.


Book XII Chapter IV This is mostly about Rome - Virginia - The author lists the Decemviri - 10 men who composed the Twelve Tables - general peace everywhere


Book XII Chapter V describes the war between Samians and Milesians. The revolt of Samians against Athenians - the war in Sicily of Syracusians against Trinacrians


Book XII Chapter VI describes the Corinthians war against the Corcyrians - the Potideans revolt against Athenians and Potidea is besieged by Phormio


Book XII Chapter VII describes the Peloponnesian War - Potidea revolts and surrenders. Nicias becomes Athenian admiral. The war is concluded after 10 years. -
Diodorus' view was typical of the time. This is a lengthy chapter with much detail.


Book XII Chapter VIII describes the continuation of the Peloponnesian war plus wars in Rome. Then the Athenians expedition to Sicily commanded by Nicias in the 16th year of the war.


Book XIII Preface
"If we should imitate others in the compiling of their histories, we should first in the preface of every book, observe some thing pertinent to the occasions and subjects in hand, and then descend to the continuation of our discourse, upon the actions and affairs that follow next in order: for by some small intermission from writing, we gain a breathing fit; the fruit and advantage by prefaces" .... But - "we shall begin this book with that expedition against the Syracusans, and end it at the beginning of the second Carthaginians war against Dionysius the tyrant of Syracuse."


Book XIII Chapter I describes the Athenian fleet being prepared for the campaign. Alcibiades is accused and flees to Italy and then Sparta - The Syracusians send to Lacedaemon for assistance - Gylippus is sent - the Battle at Syracuse - the Lacedaemonians invade Attica - Eurymedon and Demosthenes arrive at Syracuse - the Athenians 'ruined' at Syracuse.
This is a very long chapter.


Book XIII Chapter III Callias is governing Athens - various subject islands change sides. The Athenians overthrow the democracy and substitute an oligarchy rule by 400. They rebuild a fleet - but they are defeated by the Lacedaemonians at Oropus. The Persian king, Darius, seeks to aid the Spartans and sends money plus Phoenicians ships. Alcibiades convinces Pharnabazus to hold off in order to keep a balance of power between Sparta and Athens.


Book XIII Chapter IV the oligarchy of 400 is overthrown - The Athenians defeat the Lacedaemonians at sea near Sestos and Abydos. Twenty-two years of the Peloponnesian war ended and Thucydides ends his history.


Book XIII Chapter V The Carthaginians invade Sicily - The Athenians and Lacaedaemonians battle at sea at Dardanium - uprising at Corcyra - another naval battle, at Cyzicum, won by the Athenians.


Book XIII Chapter VI The Lacedaemonians sue for peace after defeat at Cyzicum but Athenians refuse.


Book XIII Chapter VII - Hannibal invades Sicily - Diocles is magistrate at Athens - Quintus Fabius and Caius Frius are Roman consuls.


Book XIII Chapter VIII The Athenian admiral, Thrasybulus, attacks Ephesus - the Lacaeaemonians besiege Pylos and surrender Chalcedon besieged by Theramenes then Byzantium is betrayed to Alcibiades.


Book XIII Chapter IX Theramenes and Alcibiades return to Athens - Lysander becomes Lacaedaemonian general - Athenian general, Antiocuhus defeated at sea at Ephesus - Spartan king, Agis, surprises part of the Athenian walls but is beaten off. Alcibiades is accused of assaulting Cuma and Conon is made admiral in his place.


Book XIII Chapter X Pausanias succeeds Plistagonax as king of the Lacedaemonians


Book XIII Chapter XI Callicratides is Lacedaemonian general and leads them in naval battle defeating Conon at Mitylene. Callicratides then besieges the city.


Book XIII Chapter XII war between Carthaginians and Syracusans at Agrigentium


Book XIII Chapter XIII more about Sicily - Dionysius becomes Syracusian general then becomes despot


Book XIII Chapter XIV Athenians won naval battle at Arginusae - but some admirals executed for not burying sailors who drowned during the battle.


Book XIII Chapter XV Lysander becomes Lacedaemonian admiral - he defeats the Athenians at Aegospotamos - then he besieges Athens which is forced to surrender - this ends the Peloponnesian War


Book XIII Chapter XVI Events in Sicily - Carthaginians sack Agrigentium and besiege Gela. Dionysius aids Gela-


Book XIV Preface
The author pens an extended comment about the psychology of 'evil' men. He remarks about the Thirty tyrants at Athens. "For the thirty tyrants of Athens, who by their covetousness and ambition involved their country in dreadful calamities, thereby, in a short time, not only lost their authority, but left behind them an immortal stain and dishonor to their names."
Then he turns: 'And the Lacedaemonians, who had undoubtedly gained the sovereignty of all Greece, lost what they had gained, when they began to oppress their associates and confederates. For the thrones of princes are supported by justice and mercy, but are overturned by cruelty and oppression of their subjects." He continues with the example of Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse.
He finally outlines the subject of this book. "In this we shall add what next follows in order, and begin with the thirty tyrants of Athens, and from thence down to the taking of Rome by the Gauls, wherein is contained the history of eighteen years."


Book XVI Chapter I The peace between Athenians and Lacedaemonians - The conflict in Athens between the thirty tyrants and the democrats.


Book XVI Chapter II - Dionysius is tyrant and Syracusians revolt


Book XVI Chapter III - The Lacedaemonians establish oligarchies ruling in every city. Dionysius disarms the Syracusian people. Alcibiades is killed - Lysander attempts to deprive the Heraclidae of their sovereign power.


Book XVI Chapter IV Dionysius's activities in Sicily - Lacedaemonians quarrel with the Elie


Book XVI - Chapter V The war between Cyrus and his brother, Artaxerxes, king of Persia. The Greek mercenaries march out of Persia. Diodorus describes in great detail the organization of the Greek force, its march to Babylon, the battle and their march back to the Black Sea and then Greece.


Book XVI Chapter VI - Thrasybulus opposes the thirty tyrants in Athens. The Lacedaemonians at war with the Messanians. The Lacedaemonians march to Athens and enforce a peace. The Persians again seek to control the Ionian cities and the Lacedaemonians send they aid. Xenophon leads a force of the Greeks returning from Asia campaign against the Thracians.


Book XVI Chapter VII Dionysius at war wit Rhegians then with the Carthaginians in Sicily.
This is a very long chapter with much detail.


Book XVI Chapter VIII The Lacedaemoniams commanded by Agesilaus, campaign at Ephesus against the Persians. He defeats the Persians at Sipylus. The Phocians war against the Boeotians.


Book XVI Chapter IX The Argives with confederates, including Corinthians, Athenians and Boeotians, war against the Lacdaemonians - Agesilaus brings his army back to Greece He defeats the Lacdemonians at Coronea - Battles at Acicas and Nemae. The Lacedaemonian admiral Pisander defeated by the Persians' fleet commanded by Athenian admiral Conon in naval battle at Cnidus. Conon sails to Athens and begins rebuilding the city walls and the Long Walls. The Corinthians war against the Lacedaemonians for eight years.


Book XVI Chapter X In Sicily Dionysius again at war with Rhegians. The Carthaginians under Mago settle affairs. In Greece Iphicrates operates at Corinth, Phlius and Sicyon. Romans active in Italy besieging Veli for 11 years.


Book XVI Chapter XI Thrasybulis, the Athenian general is active in the Ionian islands and at Chersoness. Mago commands Carthaginians against Dionysius. Spartans again active in Asia.


Book XVI Chapter XII Dionysius campaigns at Rhegium - other wars in Italy - Dionysius invades Italy


Book XVI Chapter XIII Persians at war against Evagoras in Cyprus - More conflict at Rhegium - The Gauls invade Italy and defeat the Romans at the Allia river, then capture Rome but finally defeated by Marcus Furius at Trausium..


Diodorus writes that having completed his purpose, we shall put an end to this book."


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