Oxyrhynchus, the historian from

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Hellenica of Oxyrhynchus: two sets of papyrus fragments found at Oxyrhynchus in Egypt, both 2nd cent. bc: POxy 842 (London Papyrus, found in 1906, edited by Grenfell and Hunt, who named the unknown author P.=Papyrus) and PSI 1304 (Florentine Papyrus, found in 1942). Both belong to the same historical work dating from the first half of the 4th cent. bc and contain a total of about 20 pages of Greek history, with some gaps. The London Papyrus deals with the political atmosphere in Greece in 397/6, the naval war between Athens under Conon and Sparta, the conflict between Thebes and Phocis (including a valuable excursus on the constitution of the Boeotian Confederacy, and Agesilaus' campaigns in Asia Minor. The Florentine Papyrus deals with events of the Ionian–Decelean War (final phase of the Peloponnesian War), esp. the sea-battle at Notium 407/6.

The Oxyrhynchus historian (henceforth ‘P.’) represents a valuable independent tradition parallel to Xenophon, Hell. 1 and 2, and is, via Ephorus, the basis of Diodorus' books 13–14. P. wrote shortly after the events related in his narrative; he is a primary author whose work is based on autopsy and personal research. The presentation is objective and factual, the style moderate, no speeches, frequent excursuses; the chronological arrangement is by summers and winters, like Thucydides (quoted in ch. 2. of the Florentine Papyrus). Hence it is a continuation of Thucydides from 411 to 395. P. wrote after the King's Peace in 387/6 (cf. 11. 2) and before the end of the Third Sacred War in 346 (13. 3).

Numerous attempts have been made to determine the author's identity. Among the names put forward are Ephorus, Theopompus, Androtion, Daimachus, Cratippus. Ephorus and Theopompus are not primary sources; Ephorus writes kata genos, that is he arranged his material by topic; furthermore P. is hardly a writer of universal history. Style, ethos, and presentation exclude Theopompus. P. is no Atthidographer (historian of Attica) either: Androtion arranged his material by archontes (the senior Athenian magistrate who gave his name to the year). Daimachus, the local historian of Boeotia, can be ruled out: P. does indeed show valuable knowledge of Boeotia and the Boeotian Confederacy, but betrays no sympathy for Theban policy (cf. 12. 4–5). Detailed knowledge of the situation at Athens, sympathy for Conon, and the close continuation of Thucydides suggest an Athenian author (see above): The most likely candidate is a Cratippus (FGrH 64) whom F. Jacoby called a ‘später Schwindelautor’, a late fraud—unjustly, since he seems to have been a historian of great importance. This identification is based on the correspondences between, on the one hand, what we know of Cratippus' work from T2= Plut. Mor. 345c–e and (on the other) Ephorus in Diod. 13 and 14 (cf. Accame).

Klaus Meister

Subjects: Classical Studies.

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