Theopompus in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities (1898)

A Greek historian, born at Chios about B.C. 378. He left home, probably about 361, with his father, who was banished by the democratic party on account of his predilection for the Spartans, and, having been trained in oratory by Isocrates, spoke with great success in all the larger towns of Greece. He distinguished himself so greatly in the rhetorical contest instituted (351 B.C.) by Queen Artemisia, wife of Mausolus, in honour of her deceased husband, that he obtained a brilliant victory over all competitors. He afterwards travelled, with the object of acquiring material for his historical works. The favour shown him by Alexander the Great induced him to return to Chios at the age of forty-five; but on the death of his patron he found himself again obliged to flee from his opponents, whose hatred he had incurred by his vehement adoption of the sentiments of the aristocracy. He took refuge with Ptolemy I., at Alexandria, about 305. Here he did not, however, meet with a favourable reception, and was compelled to withdraw, as his life was in danger. Of his subsequent career nothing is known. Besides numerous orations (principally panegyrics) he composed two large histories, founded on the most careful and minute research: (a) Hellenica (Ἑλληνικαὶ Ἱστορίαι), in twelve books, a continuation of Thucydides, covering the period from 411- 394; and (b) Philippica (Φιλιππικά), in fifty-eight books, treating of the life and times of Philip of Macedon. Of these works only fragments remain. The charge of malignity, which was brought against him by the ancients, seems to have originated in the reckless manner in which, on the testimony of Dionysius of Halicarnassus (Ep. ad Cn. Pompeium), he exposed the pettiness and baseness of the politics of those times, especially those of the Macedonian party. There seems to be better foundation for the charge brought against him of being too fond of digressions; for when, in later times, the digressions in the Philippica were omitted, the work was thereby reduced to sixteen books. Theopompus was the first Greek writer to make any definite mention of Rome, speaking of its capture by the Gauls (Pliny , Pliny H. N. iii. 57). His fragments are edited by C. and Th. Müller in the Frag. Hist. Graec. (Paris, 1841). See Stern, Diodor und Theopompos (1891).

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