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Hecataeus of Miletus

Born: fl. 5th c. BC
Birthplace: Ionia, Greece
Died: fl. 5th c. BC
Location of death: Ionia, Greece
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Occupation: Historian

Nationality: Ancient Greece
Executive summary: Periegesis and Genealogiai

Hecataeus of Miletus, (flourished in the 6th-5th century BC), a Greek historian, son of Hegesander, lived during the time of the Persian invasion. After having travelled extensively, he settled in his native city, where he occupied a high position, and devoted his time to the composition of geographical and historical works. When Aristagoras held a council of the leading Ionians at Miletus, to organize a revolt against the Persian rule, Hecataeus in vain tried to dissuade his countrymen from the undertaking (Herodotus v.36, 125). In 494 BC, when the defeated Ionians were obliged to sue for terms, he was one of the ambassadors to the Persian satrap Artaphernes, whom he persuaded to restore the constitution of the Ionic cities. He is by some credited with a work entitled Periegesis, or Travels Around the Earth, in two books, one on Europe, the other on Asia, in which were described the countries and inhabitants of the known world, the account of Egypt being especially comprehensive; the descriptive matter was accompanied by a map, based upon Anaximander's map of the earth, which he corrected and enlarged. Another work of Hecataeus was the Genealogiai or Historiai, a systematic account of the traditions and mythology of the Greeks. He was probably the first to attempt a serious prose history and to employ critical method to distinguish myth from historical fact, though he accepts Homer and the other poets as trustworthy authority. Herodotus, though he once at least controverts his statements, is indebted to Hecataeus not only for facts, but also in regard of method and general scheme.

Father: Hegesander

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