Xanthos the Lydian

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Xanthos the Lydian (also Xanthos of Sardis ) was a Lydian historian . He lived in the 5th century BC. BC and wrote a work called Lydiaká .

Little is known about Xanthos' life. He probably came from Sardis - although the Suda reports that he was born in Miletus - and was the son of a certain Kandaules. Dionysius of Halicarnassus states that he lived before the Peloponnesian War and still at the time of Thucydides .

Of the Lydiaká , which originally consisted of four books , only a few fragments, apart from one (F 16), have survived indirectly, mainly Greek city names from the geographical lexicon of Stephanos of Byzantium , but also longer passages about Strabo . The starting point of the present tradition was probably a summary of the work, written by a certain Menippus. The originality of this summary was, however, already controversial among the ancient historians. In his work Xanthos described the Lydian history from the early period to the 6th century BC. It was evidently the first time that he included natural history and linguistic studies in his considerations. An example of this is provided by Strabo, who quotes Eratosthenes (F 12), praising Xanthos for explaining the fact that there are two or three thousand stadia (320–500 km) from the sea inland landscapes where one can find mussels and find salt water swamps:

"Xanthos now says that under Artaxerxes [465-425] a great drought occurred, so that rivers and swamps and wells dried up, but he himself has fossilized shells far away from the sea and also the comb-like imprints of Cheramydeis [shell type] and one Salt water swamp seen by the Armenians and the Matiens and in the lower Phrygia [meaning the Lydian landscape Katakekaumene], which is why he is convinced that the plains [there] were once a sea. "

Not only this correct hypothesis, but also the studies of the languages ​​in the Lydian region, which can be deduced from the fragments, show Xanthos as a thoroughly self-researching (local) historian, who, however, seems to have incorporated a lot of novel-like stories into his work - for one really Well-founded assessment (including its possible influence on the development of Greek historiography as a whole) is lacking because of the small number of fragments.

Possibly the capture of Sardis by Cyrus II in the year 547 BC. The end of his presentation. The work was an important source for Nikolaos of Damascus , who probably was based on a version of the Lydiaká, which was strongly fictional in Hellenism .

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  1. Quoted from Otto Lendle: Introduction to Greek Historiography , Darmstadt 1992, p. 26.