Pherecydes of Athens

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Pherekydes of Athens ( ancient Greek Φερεκύδης ὁ Ἀθηναῖος Pherekýdēs o Athēnaíos ), also Pherekydes of Leros , was an ancient Greek historian and genealogist of the 6th century BC. Chr. After Hecataeus of Miletus was he one of the first known Greek prose writer and historian at all. Like Akusilaos of Argos , he is counted among the logographers .

His main work, the Historiai ( histories ), was written in the early 5th century BC. It contained ten books Attic genealogies from the time of the heroes ( Achilles and Aias are mentioned among others ) up to the present day. He tried to systematize the world of gods and heroes. Although Pherecydes was mainly concerned with mythography , his work was also important for the development of historiography, as he linked these descriptions with historical figures and events in the histories . Myth and history thus became a story.

Except for a large number of fragments, the work has been lost today. The presentation was simple. Pherekydes apparently did not intend to create a "rationalistically adjusted" mythology, but rather designed the topic of Jason and the Argonauts in a narrative way. He pointed out the “influence of the jealous God” on the decision of heroes and humans as a mainly history-moving element and thus the (though influenced and guided) human decision, which was quite an innovation compared to a purely God-directed view of history. According to the ancient classification, Pherecydes cannot be called a historian in the true sense of the word. Because of the mentioned prehistory up to his own time he is traditionally treated as such.

Pherecydes wrote several cadastral cadastre , of which the one on the Hyades is particularly noteworthy because it is the first to explain the constellation mythologically .

Text output

The fragments are collected in Felix Jacoby's The Fragments of the Greek Historians (No. 3) and in Robert Louis Fowler. The fragments based on the Fowler edition are available (including an English translation by William S. Morrison) in Brill's New Jacoby (No. 3).


Web links


  1. Otto Lendle: Introduction to Greek historiography. From Hekataios to Zosimos . Darmstadt 1992, p. 22.
  2. ^ Robert Louis Fowler: Early Greek Mythography. Vol. 1, Oxford 2000, pp. 272-364.