The Classical Quarterly (New Series)

Research Article

Theopompus and Herodotus: A Reassessment

M. R. Christa1

a1 Indiana University

W. R. Connor has argued that Theopompus' critical attacks on almost all the leading figures in Greek history suggest he was writing a ‘history without heroes’. This article will argue that a similar principle applies to Theopompus' attitude towards Herodotus and other earlier historians: all fell short of his ideal, and, in the final analysis, Theopompus had but one literary hero: himself. Theopompus' mysterious Epitome of Herodotus, I will suggest, is best taken not as an independent work, but as a portion of the Philippika in which Theopompus incorporated and adapted a significant body of Herodotean material. This fact, taken together with Theopompus' polemical statements about his predecessors, suggests that Theopompus boldly challenged Herodotus on his own turf, confident he could improve upon him.