as used by the contemporaries of Demosthenes (2), commonly means a speech‐writer for litigants in the courts, or else a writer of prose, as distinct from a poet. Modern practice, however, has followed Thucydides (2) in applying the term to the predecessors and contemporaries of Herodotus who were the pioneers of history‐writing. Early writers of narrative prose are called logopoioi, ‘tellers of tales’, by Herodotus. But like the early philosophers and natural scientists, those who claimed to offer a faithful account of human activities considered their task as an investigation (historia), as scientific rather than poetic. If we grudge the title of ‘historian’ to the predecessors of Herodotus, it is largely because they wrote of gods and heroes as well as of men, and some of them professed to offer a true version of mythology as well as of history.
No manuscripts of these authors have survived, but there are numerous references to them and occasional direct quotations in later Greek writers. Some later writers have a low opinion of their accuracy and accuse them of fabricating names and incidents; others stress their lack of critical judgement; all agree that they wrote in simple style and language. Many of them came from Ionian cities. Hecataeus of Miletus is a well‐attested historical figure, mentioned several times by Herodotus; he was active politically in Miletus as early as 500 bc, and much can be learnt from surviving fragments about the range and character of his literary work.
The work of the logographers may be classified under various heads:
Subjects: Classical Studies — History of Law.