A Hellenized Lydian from Sardis, older contemporary of Herodotus. Author of Lydiaca in 4 books on the origin and history of the Lydian people, maybe down to the capture of Sardis by Cyrus the Great in 547/6. According to Ephorus (FGrH 70 F 180 = Xanthus T 5) he was used by Herodotus, but the fragments do not admit of definite conclusions. Xanthus lived to the time of Thucydides (Dion. Hal. De Thuc. 5 = T 4). The fragments show a desire to support partly mythical native traditions with geological, linguistic (F 16), rationalistic and scientific (F12, 13) arguments: this is Xanthus' chief contribution to historical methodology. It is certain that he was used by Nicolaus of Damascus, but in what way and to what extent has been much discussed, resulting in various reconstructions of the Lydiaca: cf. Herter on one side, von Fritz on the other. There are conspicuous correspondences with regard to some details of the early history of Lydia and the royal genealogy—cf. e.g. Nicolaus FGrH 90 F 15, 16, 22 and Xanthus F 16–18. But in other parts one finds unmistakable differences—cf. e.g. Nicolaus F 71 and Xanthus F 15. The ‘melodramatic and fantastic tales’ (von Fritz) about the Lydian kings Ardys, Gyges, and Croesus in Nicolaus F 44, 47, 68, which historians usually trace back to Xanthus, display such significant differences in style and mode from the genuine and partially very early attested fragments of Xanthus that an immediate influence can be ruled out. One may assume the existence of a Hellenistic adaptation as the source for Nicolaus. On Empedocles (Diog. Laert. 8. 63) and Magica (Clem. Alex. Strom. 3. 11. 1) are not very well attested and consequently their historicity is in doubt.
Subjects: Classical Studies — Architecture.