GENEALOGY IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF ANCIENT HISTORIOGRAPHY: GENEALOGY AND HISTORY IN HERODOTUS1 This article has not been published in a preprint platform. All sources and bibliography used are referred to in the article.

GENEALOGIA NO DESENVOLVIMENTO DA HISTORIOGRAFIA ANTIGA: GENEALOGIA E HISTÓRIA EM HERÓDOTO

Camila Condilo About the author

Abstract

In this article, I suggest that genealogy was a rhetorical strategy to build authority in the ancient history writing. In this way, I divide my argument into four parts. Firstly, I present my understanding of genealogy and authority, as these concepts orient my selection and analysis of the evidence. Secondly, I turn to the genealogical evidence, trying to demonstrate its relation with controversial debates and its role as a rhetorical tool. For this, I compare Herodotus’ and Isocrates’ use of genealogy, and suggest that genealogy was a form of tekmerion. Thirdly, I try to substantiate this hypothesis by looking at both Aristotle’s definition of tekmerion and to what extent Herodotus and Isocrates share his understanding of this word. Finally, I present considerations about why genealogy was such a powerful rhetorical resource in discourses of various nature, history included.

Keywords
genealogy; rhetoric; tekmerion ; Herodotus; ancient historiography

Resumo

Neste artigo, eu sugiro que genealogia era uma estratégia retórica para construir autoridade na historiografia antiga. Nesse sentido, divido meu argumento em quatro partes. Na primeira, apresento meu entendimento de genealogia e autoridade. Em seguida, me volto para as evidências genealógicas, tentando mostrar sua relação com debates controversos e papel como ferramenta retórica. Para tanto, comparo os usos que Heródoto e Isócrates fazem de genealogias, sugerindo que genealogia era uma forma de tekmerion. Na terceira parte, tento comprovar essa hipótese discutindo tanto a definição de tekmerion em Aristóteles como em que medida Heródoto e Isócrates partilham seu entendimento dessa palavra. Por fim, realizo considerações sobre o porquê genealogia era uma ferramenta retórica tão poderosa em discursos de natureza variada, inclusive o histórico.

Palavras-chave
genealogia; retórica; tekmerion ; Heródoto; historiografia antiga

Genealogy has been an especially significant topic of discussion for scholars interested in the development of ancient historiography. It has been argued, in different ways and with a varying degree of emphasis, that ancient historians deployed genealogies intending to establish a chronology to organize events of the Greek past. Herodotus has occupied an important role in this debate. Firstly, because scholarship traditionally designates him as the “father of history”. Secondly, because he is considered to be a key player in the development of a chronological system. Chronology in this debate takes different forms, varying from chronographic reconstructions of events from the Greek past to attempts at synchronizing world history (MEYER, 1892MEYER, Eduard. Herodots Chronologie der Griechischen Sagengeschichte. In: Forschungen zur Alten Geschichte. 1st edition 1892. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010, p. 153–188.; HEIDEL, 1935HEIDEL, William Arthur. Hecataeus and the Egyptian priests in Herodotus, Book II. Memoirs of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Vol. 18, n. 2, 1935, p. 53–134.; FRITZ, 1936FRITZ, Kurt von. Herodotus and the growth of Greek historiography. Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association. Vol. 67, 1936, p. 315–340.; PRAKKEN, 1940PRAKKEN, Donald. Herodotus and the Spartan king lists. Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association. Vol. 71, 1940, p. 460–472.; WADE-GERY, 1952WADE-GERY, Henry Theodore. Herodotos’ date for Homer; ‘Stretched’ chronologies. In: The Poet of the Iliad. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952, p. 25–29, 75–77.; BOER, 1954BOER, Willem den. The struggle for the chronological pattern. In: Laconian Studies. Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Company, 1954, p. 1–150.; MITCHEL, 1956MITCHEL, Fordyce. Herodotus’ use of genealogical chronology. Phoenix. Vol. 10, n. 2, 1956, p. 48–69.; MILLER, 1965MILLER, Molly. Herodotus as chronographer. Klio. Vol. 46, 1965, p. 109–128; DREWS, 1969DREWS, Robert. The fall of Astyages and Herodotus’ chronology of the Eastern Kingdoms. Historia. Vol. 18, n. 1, 1969, p. 1–11.; BALL, 1979BALL, Rashid. Generation dating in Herodotus. Classical Quarterly. Vol. 29, n. 2, 1979, p. 276–281.; CARTLEDGE, 1979, p. 293-298; THOMAS, 1989THOMAS, Rosalind. Oral Tradition and Written Record in Classical Athens. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989., 2001b; CARRIÈRE, 1998CARRIÈRE, Jean-Claude. Du mythe à l’histoire. Généalogies heróïques, chronologies légendaires et historicisation des mythes. In: AUGER, Danièle; SAÏD, Suzanne (dir.) Généalogies mythiques: Actes du VIIIe Colloque du Centre de Recherches Mythologiques de l’Université de Paris-X. Paris: Centre de Recherches Mythologiques, 1998, p. 47–85.; VANNICELLI, 2001VANNICELLI, Pietro. Herodotus’ Egypt and the foundations of universal history. In: LURAGHI, Nino (ed.) The Historian’s Craft in the Age of Herodotus. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 211–240.; MOYER, 2002MOYER, Ian. Herodotus and an Egyptian mirage: The genealogies of the Theban priests. Journal of Hellenic Studies. Vol. 122, 2002, p. 70–90., 2011; VARTO, 2009VARTO, Emily. Early Greek Kinship. Vancouver: Unpublished PhD Dissertation, University of British Columbia, 2009.).

The limits of genealogical chronology in the Histories have long been noted, and the idea that Herodotus does not make a systematic use of a fixed generational chronology to date events is now widely accepted by scholars. Thomas’ work on oral tradition and written record in classical Athens has had a considerable impact on this debate, particularly due to her discussion on the concept of “full genealogy” and its relation to chronology. Important publications have followed Thomas’ work, contributing to more balanced and innovative analyses of genealogical chronology in the Histories (THOMAS, 1989THOMAS, Rosalind. Oral Tradition and Written Record in Classical Athens. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989., see also 2001b; cf. VANNICELLI, 2001VANNICELLI, Pietro. Herodotus’ Egypt and the foundations of universal history. In: LURAGHI, Nino (ed.) The Historian’s Craft in the Age of Herodotus. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 211–240.; MOYER, 2002MOYER, Ian. Herodotus and an Egyptian mirage: The genealogies of the Theban priests. Journal of Hellenic Studies. Vol. 122, 2002, p. 70–90., 2011). However, there is more to be said about Herodotus’ other deployments of genealogies in the narrative.

Without dismissing the relevance of genealogy as a form of relative chronology, I would like to suggest that Herodotus’ manipulation of genealogies was more sophisticated and complex. I believe in the existence of other equally noteworthy genealogy functions coexisting alongside the chronological role in the Histories. I also believe that the various social and literary aspects of genealogy, together, perform an important role both in the architecture of Herodotus’ work and in his authorial claim to authority. If that is the case, it would be more appropriate to think about the relationship between genealogy and history through a combination of these aspects, both in Herodotus’ history writing in particular and in the development of ancient historiography in general.

From this perspective, genealogy-making can be understood as a composite phenomenon, as genealogies operate in interrelated and juxtaposed ways. Besides the evidence Herodotus offers on the usual ways they were deployed in society and politics (e.g. family traditions, elite self-promot ion, political propaganda, formation of relations of solidarity/conflict), he also employs genealogy as a form to organize time and space, as a means to present characters and structure narrative passages, as etiological explanation, as a tool to create group identity, among other uses.3 3 For instance, THOMAS, 2001a for genealogy and ethnicity; ZOGRAPHOU, 2007 for genealogy, politics and narrative structure. In this article, I look at the utilization of genealogy as a rhetorical strategy to build authority in polemic debates.

I divide my argument into four parts. Firstly, I present my understanding of genealogy and authority, as these concepts orient my selection and analysis of the evidence. Secondly, I turn to the discussion of the genealogical evidence, trying to demonstrate its relation with controversial debates and its role as a rhetorical tool. For this, I make a comparison between Herodotus’ and Isocrates’ use of genealogy. From this comparative analysis, I suggest that genealogy is a form of tekmerion. Thirdly, I try to substantiate this hypothesis by looking at both Aristotle’s definition of tekmerion and to what extent Herodotus and Isocrates share his understanding of this word. Finally, I present considerations about why genealogy was such a powerful rhetorical resource in discourses of various nature, history included. With this, I hope to shed light on another aspect of the relationship between genealogy and history, both in the Herodotean historie and in the development of ancient historiography.

Genealogy and textual authority

For my analysis of the genealogical evidence in Herodotus, I adopt the concept of “narrative genealogy”. This is an adaptation from Varto’s criticism of the genealogical tree concept for early Greek kinship.4 4 VARTO, 2009. Whereas Varto’s arguments are useful and I agree with most of them, I do not agree with the claim that genealogies in Herodotus do not show storytelling. The author classifes the genealogies in the Histories alongside a few exceptions that present only descent information in a list-like format. I understand that Varto is concerned with early genealogical accounts, and that she intends to show that genealogy-making seems to have been affected by literary techniques of history writing instead of the other way around. However, we cannot lose sight of the fact that any list-like genealogy is a simplification of the stories about who those people were and what they did/represented. A simple name list does not account for the genealogy’s importance. That relies on what is known about one’s ancestors, regardless of whether or not a story about them appears explicitly attached to the biological information. The author herself seems to suggest that on other occasions (p. 133, 141–142). Moreover, the genealogies Varto refers to as list-like are connected with other passages, therefore there is the importance to consider the immediate context and its relationship with the narrative as a whole (e.g. 6.51–6.52, 6.61–6.69, 7.204, 8.131; 5.22, 8.137–8.139). Finally, if, on the one hand, the “method of composition through literary means on the part of Herodotus and the late date of the list-like genealogies, show that genealogy as a whole probably did not play the historiographic role of inspiring chronological thinking that is often assigned to it” (p. 161), on the other hand, that does not mean it did not play any role at all in the development of ancient historiography. I prefer thinking that genealogical and historiographical traditions mutually affected and reshaped one another. Thus, genealogy impacted in many ways on the development of ancient historiography, especially – although not exclusively – with regards to authoritative claims in the context of the Herodotean historie, as I hope to demonstrate. Given the fact that the genealogical tree concept suggests an inappropriate imposition of modern notions onto ancient genealogical material, I do not separate biological information from the stories attached to it, for this approach opens up new interpretative possibilities. The genealogies of Croesus (1.7), the Spartan kings Leonidas (7.204) and Leutychides (8.131), and Alexander I of Macedon (8.139), whose descriptions of biological information clearly suggest a long line of familial male succession, have been privileged in the studies on genealogy in Herodotus. But if we think in terms of biological information and storytelling, passages which do not ft the traditional pattern, such as Demaratus’ (6.51-6.52, 6.61-6.69, 6.84), could be easily accepted as genealogical. Dynasties from ruler to ruler are also included, for they overlap with royal family traditions and these are important for genealogy-making in two ways. First, because royal family traditions are the basis from which many genealogies are constructed. Second, because they “concern the status not just of a particular family, but of an institution and often of the people as a whole” (MURRAY, 2001, p. 29MURRAY, Oswyn. Herodotus and oral history; Herodotus and oral history reconsidered. In: LURAGHI, Nino (ed.) The Historian’s Craft in the Age of Herodotus. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001, p. 16–44, 314–325.).5 5 For examples of overlapping between interests of individuals/peoples and communities/states/institutions in genealogy, see VARTO, 2009, p. 150-162.

Besides enlarging the evidence scope through the association between biological information and storytelling, I also consider the narrative context in which the genealogy appears, as this will allow identifying nuances in genealogy-making in Herodotus’ history writing. Therefore, what I mean by “narrative genealogy” comprehends the stories attached (explicitly or not) to a piece of biological information and the narrative context in which the information appears. Although this broad definition may give the impression of ambivalence about which aspect of genealogy is being referred to,6 6 Genealogy can be classifed in various ways, such as historical/mythical and prose/poetic. These can include all members of the family (women, men, children), present a continuous list of supposedly father-son relationships going back to an original ancestor (“full genealogy”) or emphasize recent and very remote ancestors with a vague gap in-between (“floating gap”/“telescoping phenomenon”). my intention is to call attention to the variety of types and uses of genealogy, as well as to the fact that there is often a juxtaposition between them.

As for the definition of authority, genealogies offered answers to many questions in ancient Greece (social status, political propaganda etc.). Consequently, it could be said that since genealogies reinforce authority in society generally and an expert corrects our understanding of a given genealogy, this makes this person authoritative. Although this aspect is present in the narrative, I also believe that Herodotus builds on the social and political authoritativeness of genealogies as an authorial strategy in polemical debates. In this sense, genealogies seem to present a rhetorical dimension, and this is the aspect I wish to explore. Therefore, the claim to authority is here understood in the sense of an author who deploys many narrative and rhetorical strategies (genealogy included) as a means to reinforce trustworthiness in a very competitive intellectual world.

Genealogy in Herodotus and Isocrates

In this section, I discuss Herodotus’ use of genealogy as a persuasion technique to convey authority in his most speculative and intellectually ambitious statements. For this, I look at how genealogy operates rhetorically in different textual settings by comparing genealogical evidence in controversial passages both in Herodotus and in Isocrates, the founder of Greece’s first school of rhetoric. Another reason for having chosen Isocrates is his contribution to the debate on the writing of history. This is surely a disputable claim, as Isocrates himself wrote neither history nor theoretical and methodological works on historiography. Nevertheless, history seems to play an important role across Isocrates’ works, and I am favourable to the argument advanced by Marincola that “the ancients remembered their pasts through many media and in different genres, including law court speeches, the epitaphios, and non-verbal media” and that even if Isocrates “was not the proponent of any historiographical program, he was, whether deliberately or fortuitously, an important participant in the fourth-century discussions of what history meant, and how it was or was not useful” (MARINCOLA, 2014MARINCOLA, John. Rethinking Isocrates and historiography. In: PARMEGIANNI, Giovanni. Between Thucydides and Polybius: The Golden Age of Greek Historiography. Hellenic Studies Series 64. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies, 2014. Available online: <https://www.chs.harvard.edu/CHS/article/display/5851.giovanni-parmeggiani-ed-between-thucydides-and-polybius-the-golden-a-ge-of-greek-historiography>. Access date: 24 May 2017.
https://www.chs.harvard.edu/CHS/article/...
). It is worth pointing out that I do not wish to establish a relation of intellectual dependence between the two authors. Instead of this, I want to observe whether genealogical evidence in oratory, the rhetorical genre par excellence, helps to shed light on one of Herodotus’ uses of genealogy. Based on this comparative reading, I suggest that genealogy can be considered as a form of tekmerion.

As a star ting point, I think it is useful to show an overview of the evidence. The first table focuses exclusively on genealogies found in Herodotus’ polemical passages. The second presents all genealogies found in Isocrates’ writings.7 7 I have adopted the Loeb translations with some adaptations. For Herodotus, I have also used the volume edited by R.B. STRASSLER, The Landmark Herodotus.

Table 1

Table 2

The majority of genealogical occurrences in Isocrates are mythological:8 8 I adopt Baragwanath and Bakker’s definition of myth, who suggest that: 1. gods and heroes are the main subjects of myth, in spite of its narrative format; 2. myth is traditional in that it cannot be attributed to a specific authorship, appearing as it does in different works and genres; 3. myths had important collective meaning for a particular social group or groups. (BARAGWANATH & BAKKER, 2012, p. 10–19) 10 instances out of 12. Two appear in speeches that praise mythical figures. The first is Isocrates’ encomium of Helen (10.16–10.23, 10.39–10.48). The genealogical account linking Helen to Zeus clearly aims to enhance her social status. However, when one takes a closer look at the narrative’s texture, new layers of meaning are disclosed. Helen’s genealogy and personal history are intimately related to the accounts of Theseus and Alexander. Together they create a pattern that proves Isocrates’ claim that his is the proper way to construct praise. In this regard, Isocrates is likely to be contending with the sophist Gorgias, who also composed an encomium of Helen. His implied criticism of Gorgias concerns the fact that Gorgias made a defense speech of Helen rather than a eulogy. Isocrates’ solution of praising Helen for being a remarkable woman in birth, beauty and renown involved juxtaposing Helen with equally extraordinary male counterparts who showed an interest in her: “I think this will be the strongest assurance for those who wish to praise Helen, if we can show that those who loved and admired her were themselves more deserving of admiration than other men” (10.22). Thus, Helen’s beauty is paralleled by Theseus’ deeds as a mankind champion (10.23) and by Alexander (Paris)’s superior intelligence (10.47). Both men, like Helen, were known all around the Greek world. They also had an illustrious birth. Theseus was “reputedly the son of Aegeus, but in reality the son of Poseidon”, Alexander a son of King Priam of Troy. Therefore, Helen’s, Theseus’ and Alexander’s genealogies not only introduce them in the speech and enhance their status but, collectively, they also constitute one of the pisteis that corroborate Isocrates’ model of the proper way to praise Helen.

Isocrates, nonetheless, has to make a case for Alexander to ft into the pattern. It is in this part of the argument that genealogy as a rhetorical device is more remarkable. One of the most important pieces of evidence supporting Isocrates’ case on behalf of Alexander is a genealogical deduction in which he plays with Helen’s and Alexander’s genealogies to demonstrate that Alexander had been correct in choosing Aphrodite’s offer in the contest between the goddesses:

Alexander, compelled to make a choice of their proffered gifts, chose living with Helen before all else. In so doing he did not look to its pleasures... he could leave no more glorious heritage to his children than by seeing to it that they should be descendants of Zeus, not only on their father’s side, but also on their mother’s. For he knew that while other blessings bestowed by Fortune soon change hands, nobility of birth abides forever with the same possessors. Therefore he foresaw that this choice would be to the advantage of all his race, whereas the other gifts would be enjoyed for the duration of his own life only. No sensible person surely could find fault with this reasoning... Are they not in a ridiculous state of mind if they think their own judgment is more competent than that which the gods chose best? For surely they did not select any ordinary arbiter to decide a dispute about an issue that had got them into so ferce a quarrel, but obviously they were as anxious to select the most competent judge as they were concerned about the matter itself. (10.42–10.46)

Note that it is the genealogical reasoning which proves, through argumentative demonstration, the explanation of a subject that is unknown, namely Alexander’s motivation for having chosen the gift offered by Aphrodite. After all, if Isocrates was to make a proper encomium of Helen, and if he had chosen to do it by relating the greatness of the men who fell in love with her, he had to find a way to account for the bad reputation of Alexander: he was a fine judge, and decided on the basis of the benefts for his progeny. To prove a claim through demonstrative argument is what genealogies do, especially for matters concerning the distant past from which no hard evidence is available – how could one possibly prove descent from a god?

Likewise, in the case of the mythical King Busiris of Egypt (11.10, 11.30–10.37), Isocrates criticizes the rhetorician Polycrates for making an accusation rather than a eulogy of Busiris, and then goes on to show how one should handle the subject properly. Isocrates uses genealogy on various occasions. First, to introduce and enhance Busiris’ status: “His father was Poseidon, his mother Libya the daughter of Epaphus the son of Zeus” (11.10). Second, to support his claim that Busiris was the founder of many social and political institutions:

... who, reasoning from what is probable, would be considered to have a better claim to the authorship of the institutions of Egypt than a son of Poseidon, a descendant of Zeus on his mother’s side, the most powerful personage of his time and the most renowned among all other peoples? For surely it is not ftting that any who were in all these respects inferior should, in preference to Busiris, have the credit of being the authors of those great benefactions. (11.35)

Third, to refute the charge that Busiris used to sacrifice and eat foreigners who came to his country:

... writers who accuse Busiris of slaying strangers also assert that he died at the hands of Heracles; but all chroniclers agree that Heracles was later by four generations than Perseus, son of Zeus and Danae, and that Busiris lived more than two hundred years earlier than Perseus. And yet what can be more absurd than that one who was desirous of clearing Busiris of the calumny has failed to mention that evidence, so manifest and so conclusive? (11.36–11.37)

In all three cases genealogy is used as proof in polemical arguments: Busiris’ genealogy proves his connection with the gods; the proof that Busiris founded social and political institutions is an inference from probability based on his alleged genealogical superiority; Isocrates’ compelling evidence against Busiris’ detractors is a chronological contradiction in the discourse of his adversaries based on the genealogies of important figures of the Greek past. Empirical evidence is not important here, for what matters above anything else is to orient the praise of Busiris (a mythical criminal) correctly: “everyone knows that those who wish to praise a person must attribute to him a larger number of good qualities than he really possesses”. (11.4)

Indeed, no factual evidence matters in these two speeches. First, because the topics of dispute concern mythical figures; second and most importantly, because these are pieces of rhetorical exercise and display. The idea is not to persuade the audience about the truth of the question at issue, but to prove the orator’s talent and demonstrate the discursive techniques required to win over the audience, for it is when factual evidence is relevant but non-existent, scarce or unsatisfactory that rhetorical dexterity most becomes useful. This rhetoric aims at no concrete results, but it can be useful in assembly and court disputes, where decisions need to be made and have practical and noticeable consequences depending on who wins or loses the case. In this regard, it is interesting that the eight mythical genealogy remaining instances, which actually concern historical people and peoples of Isocrates’ time, also perform the role of evidence of a rhetorical type. Let us take a look at each of these instances.

The genealogies of the Kings Evagoras (9.12–9.21) and Nicocles (3.27–3.30, 3.42) are closely related. They were father and son, with the latter succeeding the former on the throne of Salamis in Cyprus. One genealogy appears in the encomium of Evagoras composed at the request of Nicocles in memory of his father, and the other appears in a treatise Isocrates offered to the young Nicocles to instruct him regarding the proper duties and behaviour of a king. The genealogies guarantee, through laudation, the monarchs’ nobility and the legitimacy of their governments, especially since Evagoras is said to have recovered the power that once belonged to his family by ancestral right:

But to show that I hold my office since the beginning there is a story much sooner told and less open to dispute. For who does not know how Teucer, the founder of our race, taking with him the ancestors of the rest of our people, came to this place from overseas and built for them a city and divided the land; and that, after his other descendants had lost the throne, my father, Evagoras, won it back again by undergoing the greatest dangers, and wrought so great a change that Phoenicians no longer rule over Salaminians, while they, to whom it belonged in the beginning, are today in possession of the kingdom? (3.27, cf. 9.12-9.21)

Two other instances are the Athenians’ genealogy in the Panegyricus (4.21–4.25) and the Panathenaicus (12.119–12.126). The emphasis in both cases is on autochthony, which attests to Athens’ moral, political and cultural supremacy over other peoples. Isocrates employs this genealogy in favour of his Panhellenic political project at a critical moment in Greek history. He envisioned a unified campaign against the Persians as the only solution to the constant quarrels among the Greek states of his time. Isocrates thought that an enterprise like this one would unite the Greeks in a common cause, channel the conflict outside Greece and promote other positive economic, moral and political results. In this context, he deploys the Athenians’ autochthony and the alleged superiority arising therefrom as proof of Athens’ ancestral right to lead all Greeks in this important mission. The passage in the Panegyricus is the most explicit in this regard:

... we did not become dwellers in this land by driving others out of it, nor by finding it uninhabited, nor by coming together here a heterogeneous horde composed of many races; but we are of a lineage so noble and so pure that throughout our history we have continued in possession of the very land which gave us birth, since we are sprung from its very soil and are able to address our city by the very names which we apply to our nearest kin; for we alone of all the Greeks have the right to call our city at once nurse and fatherland and mother. And yet, if men are to have good ground for pride and make just claims to leadership and frequently recall their ancestral glories, they must show that their race boasts an origin as noble as that which I have described. (4.23–4.25)

The remaining four instances concern Heracles’ genealogy, which is used twice to account for the genealogy of the Spartan King Archidamus III.9 9 For the different uses of Heracles’ genealogy in Isocrates, GOTTELAND, 1998, p. 379–393, 2001. The most complete version – not only of these two instances but also of all four occurrences – appears in a speech Isocrates puts in the mouth of Archidamus III himself when he was still crown prince (6.8, 6.16–6.25) at a moment at which the fragile peace between Sparta and Thebes is in jeopardy, during the period of Theban supremacy in Greece (371–362 BC) – the speech dates to 366 BC.10 10 After the Battle of Leuctra (371 BC), in which the Spartans and their allies fought against the Boeotians led by the Thebans, Sparta lost the influence she had acquired with her victory in the Peloponnesian War. One of the peace terms imposed by the Thebans (367/366 BC) was that the new city of Messene, founded in 370/369 BC, should be recognized as independent. Isocrates sets the speech in the context of an assembly in which Sparta’s allies, led by the Corinthians, try to convince the Spartans to comply with the treaty’s terms. Archidamus’ speech is a reaction to this argument, and he claims the Spartans’ rightful possession of Messene on the ground of ancestral right. The genealogical recital itself is too long to be completely reproduced here, but the extract below leaves no doubt that Heracles’ genealogy is one of the main proofs which substantiates his claim:

... I ought to explain to you in what way we acquired Messene, and for what reasons you settled in the Peloponnese – you who from old are Dorians. And the reason why I shall go back to remote times is that you may understand why your enemies are trying to rob you of this country, which you acquired, no less than Lacedaemon itself, justly. When Heracles [genealogy follows]... I am sure that even this brief statement makes it evident to all that there is no difference whatever between the way in which we acquired the land which is acknowledged to be ours and the land to which our claim is disputed. For we inhabit Lacedaemon because the sons of Heracles gave it to us, because Apollo directed us to do so, and because we fought and conquered those who held it; and Messene we received from the same people, in the same way, and by taking the advice of the same oracle... in both cases we can advance the same justifications and the same reasons for our claim. (6.16–6.25)

Heracles’ genealogy also appears at the beginning of a personal letter to Archidamus III (L 9 1–5), which approaches one of the most important and recurrent themes in Isocrates: the reconciliation of Greek cities through a unified expedition against the barbarians. Athens was Isocrates’ favourite candidate for leading the expedition, but political vicissitudes made him revisit the idea many times when looking for more suitable alternatives. This letter (probably dating to 356 BC) suggests that the Spartan king (he had acceded in 359 BC) would have been the right man for the job at some point.

Long before that, in the Panegyricus (380 BC), Isocrates had contrasted the genealogy of Heracles/Dorians with the genealogy of the Athenians as negative evidence in support of the claim that Athens would be the right leadership for the campaign:

... long before the Trojan War (for it is only fair that those who dispute about immemorial rights should draw their arguments from that early time) there came to us the sons of Heracles [genealogy follows]... Many are the services which we have rendered to the state of the Lacedaemonians, but it has suited my purpose to speak of this one only; for, starting with the advantage afforded by our assistance of them, the descendants of Heracles – the progenitors of those who now reign in Lacedaemon – returned to the Peloponnese, took possession of Argos, Lacedaemon, and Messene, settled Sparta, and were established as the founders of all the blessings which the Lacedaemonians now enjoy. ... if we have to leave out of account considerations of gratitude and fairness, and, returning to the main question, state the point which is most essential, assuredly it is not ancestral custom for immigrants to set themselves over the sons of the soil, or the recipients of benefts over their benefactors, or refugees over those who gave them asylum. ... as to what state was the first power in Greece, I do not see how anyone could demonstrate more capability. (4.54–4.65)

Years later in To Philip (346 BC), Heracles’ genealogy would be used once again as evidence to support the argument that King Philip II of Macedon, who claimed to descend from an aristocratic family of Argos, would be the right leader to undertake the challenge (5.30–5.34, 5.105–5.115). In this case, genealogy is employed as one of the proofs that validate Isocrates’ advice that Philip should intervene in the diplomatic relations among Greek states, which he saw as crucial to the enterprise success:

... you ought to make an effort to reconcile Argos and Lacedaemon and Thebes and Athens; for if you can bring these cities together, you will not find it hard to unite the others... I believe that both your own father and the founder of your kingdom, and also the progenitor of your race – were it lawful for Heracles and possible for the others to appear as your counsellors – would advise the very things which I have urged. I draw my inference from their actions while they lived. For your father... Coming now to Heracles... I am exhorting you to a course of action which, in the light of their deeds, it is manifest that your ancestors chose as the noblest of all. ... since you have no need to follow alien examples but have before you one from your own house, have we not then the right to expect that you will be spurred on by this and inspired by the ambition to make yourself like the ancestor of your race? ... you will make expeditions, not with the barbarians against men who have given you no just cause, but with the Greeks against those upon whom it is ftting that the descendants of Heracles should wage war. (5.30–5.34, 5.105–5.115)

From the above, it is possible to conclude that mythical genealogies in Isocrates appear at critical moments when important social, political and ethical issues are at stake, being generally employed as quasi-juridical evidence to legitimate socio-political institutions, territorial and political leadership claims, and to regulate diplomatic relationships among states. Although this may seem obvious, given that his writings concentrate on political topics, it is less clear why there is a close-knit relationship between politics and genealogies of mythical type. In this regard, Papillon has argued that Isocrates aligned his work with the activity of the poets against the intellectual trends of his time. According to him, Isocrates dismisses innovation or idiosyncratic self–expression, and emphasizes the poetic tradition as an influential mode of discourse that speaks in an intelligibly and authoritatively way to the polis (PAPILLON, 1998PAPILLON, Terry. Isocrates and the Greek poetic tradition. Scholia. Vol. 7, 1998, p. 41–61.). If Isocrates engages as extensively with the poetic tradition as Papillon suggests, his use of myth involves the re-enactment of the original sense of this word as performative and authoritative public speech when important issues for the community were at stake.11 11 For myth as a form of authoritative utterance, see MARTIN, 1989; FOWLER, 2011, p. 52–53. Thus, the intimate relationship between mythical genealogies and political topics makes perfect sense, for politics is the subject that any orator finds himself on most unstable grounds, and it is the ability to convey a message intelligibly and authoritatively that anchors his arguments on more stable terrain.

Isocrates himself claims that deliberative speech is the discourse mode that most requires from the orator rhetorical skills (15.42–15.51; cf. Arist. Rh. 3.17.10) because these are occasions on which significant and complex subjects are addressed. The outcome of political decisions results from various causes and is influenced by numerous variables as well as conflicting interests. Each possible alternative of suggested action can have very concrete impacts, good and bad, in the short and long run, not only on the entire community, but also on the orator’s reputation (cf. Isoc. L 9 6–7).

Strictly speaking, mythical genealogies do not provide factual evidence in any respect. They are stories about the distant past, and the distant past belongs to the realm of the unknown, unseen, uncertain and/or obscure. The only aspect that guarantees the credibility of these stories is the value of myth as authoritative utterance. Thus, myth vouches not only for the credibility of the version adopted of the past, but also for the credibility of the argument that uses mythical genealogy as proof in order to have an impact on the future. The future, too, belongs to the realm of the unknown, unseen, uncertain and/or obscure, and authoritative utterances – meaning statements that one understands and trusts – are the only element that can provide the community a relative degree of control over positive outcomes in its decisions.

From Isocrates, I now turn to Herodotus. I discuss a wide range of situations in which genealogy appears in polemical contexts. The idea is to identify to what extent the occurrences of genealogical evidence in Herodotus converge with or diverge from Isocrates’ use of genealogy. In other words, I hope the genealogy application in oratory, here exemplified in a discussion of Isocrates’ writings, may shed light on one of Herodotus’ deployments of genealogy in his Histories.

First of all, it is important to emphasize that Herodotus is aware of the myth problematic status in the intellectual world of his time and that he plays with the limits and possibilities that it offers to his own advantage, according to his own project of taking a firm grip on the past through his historie.12 12 To Herodotus, historie is an intellectual process based on the critical assessment of information obtained mainly – but not exclusively – by autopsy and hearsay (2.29, 2.99). As a corollary, it also meant the results of such an inquiry in the form of narrative/text (1.1). This makes it a very complicated matter to establish clear-cut categorizations of genealogy as mythological or not mythological, insofar as some genealogies build implicitly but strikingly on the authority of myth, whereas others build on the authority of a rationalization of it.13 13 On the rationalization of myth, see FOWLER, 2011.

There are 16 genealogy instances in polemical passages in the Histories. There are three of them in which myth is fundamental if the genealogy is deployed to achieve authorial credibility: the polemics about the origins of Cyrus and the Persian empire, the claim that Cleomenes’ madness resulted from his unjust acts against Demaratus, and the claim that Cleisthenes of Athens imitated his grandfather, Cleisthenes of Sicyon, in his reform of the political system in Athens after the ending of the tyrannical regime. One aspect that stands out in these passages is that the more complex the point Herodotus advances, the more literary artistry and historical procedures overlap and denser the texture of the text becomes. It is on these occasions that the longest and more elaborate genealogies tend to appear. Herodotus signposts the challenge that those issues pose to the enquirer by indicating that other people before him had tried to explain them:

From here, our story demands that we enquire further about Cyrus and the Persians: who was this man who destroyed the empire of Croesus, and how did the Persians become leaders of Asia? I shall write this account using as my sources certain Persians who do not intend to magnify the deeds of Cyrus but rather to tell what really happened, although I know of three other ways in which the story of Cyrus is told. [genealogy follows]... This, then is how Cyrus was born and raised, how he became king and later subjugated Croesus the Lydian, who had begun unjust acts against him. And as I said earlier, once Croesus had been subjugated, Cyrus ruled all of Asia. (1.95–1.130)

Meanwhile, Demaratus son of Ariston remained behind in Sparta, maligning Cleomenes. He was the other king of the Spartans, but from the inferior house, though not inferior in all respects, since the origin of their ancestry was actually the same, but the house of Eurysthenes received somewhat more esteem because of seniority of birth. For according to the Lacedaemonians – though no poet agrees with them in this – it was not the sons of Aristodemus, but Aristodemus himself, the son of Aristomachus son of Cleodaeus who was the son of Hyllus, who had, during his reign, led them to the land they now possess. [genealogy continues]... After Cleomenes returned home from Aegina, he considered how to depose Demaratus from the kingship, and when the following circumstances provided him with an opportunity, he moved against him. While Ariston had reigned in Sparta, he married twice [genealogy continues]... The Argives say this was the reason Cleomenes went mad and died an evil death. The Spartans, however, say that Cleomenes became deranged not because of any supernatural force, but because he had become, through his association with the Scythians, a drinker of undiluted wine... For myself, however, I think that Cleomenes was punished for his treatment of Demaratus. (6.51–6.52, 6.61–6.69, 6.84)

Herodotus’ investigative procedures are at work in both cases, as is indicated by the use of akoe – the Persians say (λέγουσι), the Argives say (ϕασὶ), the Spartans say (ϕασὶ, λέγουσι) – as a form of validation of his report. Although it is clear that he most certainly does the best he can with the information he gathered about such complicated topics, these passages are more a matter of rhetoric than a critical discussion of factual evidence. The relationship between the alleged evidence and the fact it explains is not self-evident. In the natural order of things, Cyrus was destined to be the legitimate heir of Astyages as king of the Medes. It is Astyages’ dream and his impact on Cyrus’ upbringing that change the course of the history. Likewise, Cleomenes’ madness has no direct connection to either the cultural exchanges of drinking practices between the Spartan king and the Scythians or divine retribution resulting from his misdeeds against a legitimate heir of the Spartan royal house, that is, a religious reason – Cleomenes assured Demaratus’ deposition by impiously bribing the Delphic oracle. The enquirer’s intervention is imperative to establish the necessary connections for interpreting the evidence. This applies to Persians, Argives, Spartans and even Herodotus himself. Some explanations can be more correct than others, and Herodotus implies that these are the ones that he himself accepts and, in his turn, proposes to the audience: “I shall write this account using as my sources certain Persians who do not intend to magnify the deeds of Cyrus... although I know of three other ways in which the story of Cyrus is told.” Still, there is no compelling indication that Herodotus’ argument ultimately is qualitatively different from the others. Once again, it is the logical articulation of his explanation, especially through the genealogical recital, that attests the credibility of the argument being advanced, showing causal connections that are not self-evident, thus constituting the demonstration process as itself proof of reliability. The same can be said about the link connecting the political reforms promoted by Cleisthenes of Sicyon and those by Cleisthenes of Athens (5.66–5.69, 6.125–6.131): “it seems to me that this Cleisthenes was imitating his maternal grandfather, Cleisthenes the tyrant of Sicyon.” It is the genealogical link between the two Cleisthenes-es that works as a proof of imitation despite their different political motivations, times and cities.

It is striking that the arguments which the genealogies of Cyrus, Demaratus and Cleisthenes seek to prove – or rather rhetorically demonstrate – address the cause of very significant political changes, namely the foundation and legitimation of the Persian royal dynasty; a political crisis in Sparta with a rightful king being unfairly deposed and the other being overcome by madness followed by death; and the establishment of a new political regime in Athens. Furthermore, these genealogies are the ones most embedded in narrative and myth: the stories of Oeneus and the grapevine (Hes. Cat. Fr. 10, 22–23, 84, 179–180, 216 see also T2; cf. Apollod. Bibl. 1.8, Hecat. BNJ 1 F15, 113, Hyg. Fab. 129, Paus. 10.38),14 14 VANDIVER, 1991, p. 249–253; PELLING, 1996; AUGER, 1998; RENAUD, 1998; CHIASSON, 2012; FOWLER, 2013, p. 130–147. Heracles’ birth (Hes. Cat. Fr. 138–139, 187 = Sc. 1–56, 187; cf. Pherec. BNJ 3 F13),15 15 BOEDEKER, 1987; VANDIVER, 1991, p. 102–107; ZOGRAPHOU, 2007. and Helen’s bridal contest (Hes. Cat. Fr. 154–156):16 16 HOW & WELLS, 1912, p. 117; WEST, 1985, p. 133; THOMAS, 1989, p. 268–270; VANDIVER, 1991, p. 255–257; NENCI, 1998, p. 306; CINGANO, 2005, p. 118–152; IRWIN, 2005, p. 65–83; RUTHERFORD, 2005, p. 114; KURKE, 2011, p. 412–426.


Demaratus

Cleisthenes

When it comes to politics, facts, even when they happen to be validated by empirical evidence, are liable to the interpretation that individuals attribute to them according to the interest of the parties involved and the pressing concerns of the moment in which they took place, in a way that one never is on stable ground explaining them. Herodotus was aware of this problem and employed all available resources, including myth, to present himself as much as possible as in control of the knowledge of events. If I am right in thinking that he links genealogy with myth more strongly when considering political controversies, it seems that in the lack of reliable sources to vouch for the credibility of his argument on those issues, it is the myth that performs that role even if he builds on them implicitly. In this sense, despite genre peculiarities and attitudes toward myth, mythical genealogies in Herodotus seem to follow a similar pattern as mythical genealogies in Isocrates, for they both build on the authority of myth to convey credibility when addressing complex issues about moral and political subjects.

Five more occurrences belong to the group of mythological genealogies. These, however, involve rationalized versions of myth.17 17 When Herodotus applies historie to rationalize myth he is targeting a specific type of myth, which in my opinion is a set of stories about the Greek past focused on gods and heroes. See notes 8 and 12. One is Heracles’ genealogy, which is offered by Herodotus alongside other inferential evidence to prove that Heracles was originally an ancient Egyptian deity whose name was borrowed by the Greeks. Another is Perseus’ genealogy within the genealogical account of the Spartan kings, which is recited to prove the argument that they were of Egyptian descent:

... I have heard it said that he was one of the twelve Egyptian gods, but about the other Heracles, the one known to the Greeks, I was unable to learn anything... the fact is that the Egyptians did not take the “name of Heracles” from the Greeks, but that the Greeks... took it from the Egyptians. I have many other evidence about this, especially the fact that both parents of Heracles, Amphitryon and Alcmene, were of Egyptian descent. In addition, the Egyptians claim that they do not know the names of “Poseidon” or “the Dioscuri”... If they had taken the name of a divinity from the Greeks, they would surely retain a vivid memory of it... if in fact the Egyptians and the Greeks were both making sea voyages at that time, as I think most likely to have been the case, the Egyptians would certainly have become acquainted with the names of these gods (Poseidon and the Dioscuri) better than that of Heracles. ... (2.43–2.45)

... Now I shall put in writing what other Greeks report. They correctly list the Dorian kings as far back as Perseus son of Danae, omitting the god and showing that these kings were Greeks, and that even in those early days they were classifed as Greeks. I said “as far back as Perseus” since I cannot trace the lineage back any further than that because no one is named the mortal father of Perseus – as Amphitryon, for example, is named the father of Heracles. Therefore I was correct to say “as far back as Perseus”. But if someone were to recount the ancestors of Danae daughter of Acrisius and trace them all the way back in a continuous sequence, it would become obvious that the leaders of the Dorians are actually genuine Egyptians by direct descent. [genealogical discussion continues]... (6.53–6.55)

One instance appears related to the polemic about the cause of the war at the beginning of the Histories, where Croesus’ genealogy supports Herodotus’ version on the matter. This genealogy is introduced in contraposition to the Heraclids’ genealogy, the rightful possessors of the Lydian throne:

These are the stories told by the Persians and Phoenicians. I myself have no intention of affirming that these events occurred thus or otherwise. But I do know who was the first man to begin unjust acts against the Greeks. I shall describe him and then proceed with the rest of my story... Croesus was of Lydian ancestry, the son of Alyattes... The rule passed from the Heraclids to the family of Croesus, called the Mermnads, in the following way. There was a man named Candaules, known to Greeks as Myrsilus; he was the monarch of Sardis and the descendant of Alcaeus son of Heracles... [genealogy follows] They governed for twenty-two generations, 505 years, handing down the rule from father to son until it reached Candaules son of Myrsus. Now this Candaules [genealogy continues]... (1.5–1.92)

A further occurrence concerns the boundaries of the three continents and the reason they were named after women. Herodotus offers different genealogical accounts to explain the names Asia and Libya, and rehearses an explanation of his own on the matter of Europe about which no one knows anything:

... I cannot understand why there are three names for a single landmass, with all these names representing women, nor why the boundaries set for them are the Nile River in Egypt and the Colchian Phasis River, though others say the boundaries are the Maeetian Tanaïs River and the Cimmerian ferries. And I have not even been able to find out who it was that established these boundaries or where they obtained these names. Nowadays, many Greeks say that Libya was named after a native Libyan woman, and that Asia was named after the wife of Prometheus. The Lydians, however, also lay claim to this name, asserting that Asia was named after Asies son of Cotys son of Manes, not after Asia wife of Prometheus. And, they say, it was after Asies that the tribe called Asias in Sardis was named. No one in the world knows whether Europe is surrounded by water, nor where its name came from or who really gave it this name, unless we shall say that the place got its name from Europa of Tyre but had no name before that, just as the other lands once had no name. This woman Europa, however, was evidently from Asia, and did not ever come to the land now called Europe by the Greeks, but went from Phoenicia to Crete and from Crete to Lycia... (4.45)

The fifth instance is a series of genealogical references which both introduces the Athenian tyrannicides and serves as evidence supporting Herodotus’ claim that the Greeks revised and adopted the alphabet from the Phoenicians:

The Gephyraeans who murdered Hipparchus claim to have originally come from Eretria, but I have discovered through close inquiry that they were actually descended from Phoenicians, part of those who came with Cadmus to the land now called Boeotia... They made their way to Athens and were received by the Athenians on their own terms... they transmitted much lore to the Greeks, and in particular, taught them the alphabet which, I believe, the Greeks did not have previously... I myself have seen Cadmeian letters at the sanctuary of Ismenian Apollo in Boeotian Thebes. These letters, which are engraved on three tripods, look for the most part Ionian letters... This inscription would have to be contemporary with Laius son of Labdacus, whose grandfather was Polydorus son of Cadmus... Scaeus would be the son of Hippocoön, if he actually made this dedication and not someone else by the same name. He would have been contemporary with Oedipus son of Laius... The third tripod, also in hexameter, says... In the reign of this Laodamas son of Eteocles, the Cadmeians were driven out by the Argives and emigrated... (5.57–5.61)

In all these fve examples, genealogy appears simultaneously as a form of reasoning and as evidence in contentious and complicated issues. Heracles’ genealogy and Herodotus’ hypothesis that his mortal parents were Egyptian immigrants are offered as a piece of evidence alongside other τεκμήρια to compensate for the information lack about the Greek Heracles: “about the other Heracles, the one known to the Greeks, I was unable to learn anything”. The claim that the Spartan kings were of Egyptian descent is based on a belief that was widely accepted by the Greeks, and which Herodotus himself thought to be the case but had no means of proving: “I cannot trace the lineage back any further than that because no one is named the mortal father of Perseus”. As regards the continental borders and their names, Herodotus is perplexed due the evidence scarcity: “I have not even been able to find out who it was that established these boundaries or where they obtained these names... No one in the world knows whether Europe is surrounded by water, nor where its name came from or who really gave it this name”. Herodotus claims that the Greeks adopted the alphabet from the Phoenicians, but also indicates that he is not completely sure about it: “So these Phoenicians... taught them the alphabet which, I believe, the Greeks did not have previously”. These instances involve, as complementary proof of his argument, the use of factual/empirical evidence, such as overseas travels, geographical features, inscriptions on tripods. However, their relationship with the Egyptian origin of Heracles and the Spartan kings, the names of the continents and the introduction of the technology of writing in Greece is not evident. They make sense and complement each other only when working together in the explanation Herodotus gives about the issue in hand. This, however, is not the case for the polemic about the cause of the war, where he uses the assertive οἶδα instead of ὡΣ ἐΜΟὶ ΔΟΚΈΕΙΝ, and σημήνας rather than τεκμήρια. Although Herodotus uses genealogy as a line of reasoning and proof in this case too, he is more assertive about his conclusion because the genealogy here is a prerequisite for a social convention based on hereditary succession.

It is noteworthy that in all these cases myth is referred to not so much because of the authority it conveys but for being the only narrative available about the distant past, and therefore the only temporal reference that could be used to situate events in relation to each other. The oldest narratives about the Greek past are compared with the history of mankind oldest people (Heracles and the Spartan kings’ genealogies), and then related to the rest of world history in both its natural and cultural aspects (historicization of the concept of continent; the Heraclids in Lydia preceding Croesus’ genealogy; introduction of new technologies). Moreover, these genealogies are applied as evidence to explain a wider range of phenomena than mythical genealogy, such as miscegenation, cultural exchanges, words’ etymology etc. Therefore, the evidence of rationalized genealogies in Herodotus suggests that the existence of factual/empirical proof makes the presence of myth less necessary to vouch for the credibility of the claim being advanced.

Five other instances seem to corroborate this claim. In one case, Herodotus questions the aspirations of some Asiatic Ionians to nobility. He counter-genealogizes the accounts that make them descendants of kings from old native lines with an account that proves their miscegenation not only among the Greeks based in Asia but also in mainland Greece before emigration to Asia had occurred. Another case is Hecataeus’ genealogy. The Egyptian priests challenge Hecataeus’ claim that he was descended from a god by presenting their own genealogy, far more extensive and unrelated to divinity, as a counter-argument to his assertion. There is another instance that appears in the polemics about the causes behind Cambyses’ campaign to Egypt. One of the explanatory versions is a genealogical account, and Herodotus considers it wrong because the Egyptians were “simply distorting the facts in an attempt to link themselves to the house of Cyrus”. He then provides the genealogical version he considers correct. In this series of genealogical quests, Herodotus keeps one step ahead of his intellectual rivals by complementing his genealogies with some kind of empirical evidence, either physical or factual: settlement patterns and common religious practices, giant statues erected since the beginning of historical time, and the Persian custom of royal succession.

... it is very foolish to claim that these Asian Ionians are in any way more Ionian or more noble in birth than any of the others. After all, a large number of them derive from the Abantes of Euboea, who are not Ionians at all. Many other peoples are mixed in among them... Those who set out from the Prytaneion of Athens may have believed themselves to be the most nobly born of the Ionians, but they did not bring their own women with them to settle in their colony; what they did when they got there was to seize Carian women... Furthermore, some of the Ionians appointed Lycians who were descendants of Glaucus son of Hippolochus as their kings; others appointed Caucones from Pylus, descendants of Codrus son of Melanthus; and still others appointed kings from both families at the same time. But since the Ionians of Asia want to be called Ionians more than the others of that name, let them be known as the purebred Ionians, though actually all those who came from Athens and who celebrate the festival of Apaturia are Ionians. (1.143–1.147)

... when Hecataeus had traced his descent and claimed that his sixteenth forefather was a god, the priests too traced a line of descent according to the method of their counting, for they refused to believe that a man could be descended from a god. Hence, they gave their own genealogy as support for this assertion, recounting how each colossus represented a piromis born from a piromis, until they have pointed out 345 figures. None of these, they said, was connected to either a god or to a hero. (2.143)

... The Egyptians, however, claim that Cambyses was one of their own kinsmen, born of this daughter of Apries. Cyrus, not Cambyses, they say, sent the request to Amasis for his daughter. But they are incorrect, for they are well aware of the rule... that it is not permitted for an illegitimate son to become a king while a legitimate son is still living; and furthermore, Cambyses was not the son of an Egyptian woman, but the son of Cassandane daughter of Pharnaspes, who was an Achaemenid. The Egyptians are simply distorting the facts in an attempt to link themselves to the house of Cyrus. (3.1–3.3)

In two other occurrences, Herodotus contrasts arguments involving mythical genealogy, on the one hand, and factual evidence, on the other. The first is the genealogy of the Scythians, who claim to be the youngest of peoples. The Scythians themselves say that their first king, Targitaus, was a son of Zeus and the daughter of the Borysthenes river, but Herodotus does not believe it. According to this account, the three Scythian tribes originated from the three sons of Targitaus. The youngest of them became the king because he was the only one able to touch burning objects that had fallen from the sky. The Greeks of the Pontic region argue instead that Heracles visited the area the Scythians currently inhabit on the occasion he was driving off the cattle of Geryon. He mingled with a viper-woman who bore him three children. Heracles instructed her that when the three came to manhood, the one able to draw his bow should become the king of that land and the others should leave. It was Scythes, the youngest child, who performed the task and earned the right to stay there. Then Herodotus finally offers his own interpretation of the Scythians’ origins, more grounded in empirical evidence:

... But there is yet another account, to which I myself am most partial... the Scythians were nomads who originally lived in Asia until, pressured in war... [they] crossed the Araxes river into Cimmerian territory... the Cimmerians discussed what to do... the royal Cimmerians divided themselves into two equal groups and fought with each other until they all lay dead. Then they were buried by the Cimmerian people beside the Tyras river, where their tombs are still visible. After the burial, the people departed from the land, so that when the Scythians invaded, the country they took was completely deserted. But even today in Scythia, one can still see the Cimmerian walls, the river crossings called Cimmerian ferries, a region called Cimmeria, and the strait that is called the Cimmerian Bosporus... (4.5–4.12)

The other instance is the controversy about why the Argives did not join the Greek resistance against Persia. On the one hand, Argos based her decision of non-participation on two pieces of evidence: domestic weakness caused by the outcome of her war against Sparta, and the oracle’s advice on the matter that they would be better off staying away from another military conflict. On the other hand, many Greeks claimed that Argos was well disposed toward the Persians. The evidence offered to support the case against the Argives is twofold: a genealogy associating Persians and Argives and the report of an event years later in which the Argives sent an ambassador to Artaxerxes, Xerxes’ successor, to confirm whether the friendship they had established with his father still remained, to which Artaxerxes replied positively.

... there is another one told throughout Hellas, that Xerxes had sent a herald to Argos before he set out to make war on Hellas. It is reported that upon his arrival, the herald said, “Men of Argos, King Xerxes has this to say to you: ‘It is our traditional belief that we are descended from Perses, whose father was Danae’s son Perseus and whose mother was Andromeda daughter of Cepheus. If that is so, we would be your own descendants and it would be improper for us to march against our own ancestors or for you to become our opponents by helping others against us; instead, you should remain at ease by yourselves and at peace. For if matters turn out as I intend, no people will be greater in esteem than the Argives.’”... I cannot say for certain if Xerxes really sent a herald to Argos who said these things, or whether Argive messengers went to Susa and asked Artaxerxes about their friendship, nor will I even express an opinion about that other than what the Argives themselves say. This much I do know... the deeds of the Argives were not the most shameful. I may be obliged to tell what is said, but I am not at all obliged to believe it. And you may consider this statement to be valid for my entire work... (7.148–7.152; cf. 7.61)

Herodotus is more oblique in spelling out his stance on this matter than in the others previously discussed. Yet, it is noticeable that the version he seems to dismiss uses a genealogy with a non-rationalized version of myth in a political context. This supports the point previously advanced that mythical genealogies are generally employed in political, ethical and/or moral controversies. The passage also suggests that the conflict Argives versus Spartans has more factual basis than the genealogical argument maintained by the other Greeks, which, too, supports the idea of genealogy as proof, but a proof of a rather rhetorical kind in cases with scarce, or a total lack of, convincing evidence.

From these examples, one can conclude that mythical genealogies are very compelling proof, but not as compelling as arguments based on rationalized versions of myths or arguments supported by factual or empirical evidence. Hence, the persuasive force of mythical genealogies seems to decrease proportionally to the existence (or alleged existence) of more tangible evidence. However, there are three occasions in which genealogy is neither associated with myth nor with rationalized versions of it.

One instance concerns Herodotus’ statement that the Scythians were very protective of their traditions. The stories of Anacharsis and Scyles are remarkable examples: they are put to death by their own family members because of that. The genealogies here reveal the intimate bond connecting both to their murderers:

The Scythians are another people who avoid foreign customs at all costs, especially those of the Greeks... if anyone even now asks the Scythians about him [Anacharsis], they deny knowing about him at all... Anacharsis was the paternal uncle of Idanthyrsus king of the Scythians and the son of Gnurus son of Lycus, who was the son of Spargapithes. And so if this was the family of Anacharsis, he should know that he died at the hand of his own brother, for Idanthyrsus was the son of Saulius, and it was Saulius who killed Anacharsis... many years later, something similar happened to Scyles son of Ariapithes... the brother of Sitalces had in fact fled from him and had found refuge with Octamasades. Octamasades... gave up his maternal uncle to Sitalces, receiving his brother Scyles in return. When Sitalces got his brother back, he took him away with him, while Octamasades had Scyles beheaded on that very spot. So that is how protectively the Scythians uphold their own customs, and such are the penalties they exact on those who deviate from them by taking up foreign customs. (4.76–4.80)

In the second occurrence (5.22), Herodotus argues that Alexander I of Macedon was of Greek descent, and presents as a complementary piece of evidence for this assertion the fact that he was granted permission to participate in the Olympic Games, which were open exclusively to Greek nationals. The actual genealogy is recited three books later (8.137–8.139), introducing a heated discussion that was decisive for Greece’s future (8.140–8.144). Alexander, a Persian vassal, was sent as a messenger by the Persians to propose an alliance with Athens. His ambiguous genealogical status as a Greek is played against him by the Spartans in an attempt to persuade the Athenians to refuse the alliance. The passage also gives the cue for exalting Greek values and identity in the Athenians’ self-aggrandizing reply to Alexander dismissing the proposal (8.144). One interesting point is that Alexander’s genealogy is first referred to when the Macedonians had become Persians’ vassals. In this story, Alexander orders the murder of important Persian envoys for their abuses against Macedonian women and walks away unpunished by bribing the Persian Bubares, who was in charge of the investigation about the mysterious disappearance of the men, and by offering him in addition his own sister as a wife (5.17–5.21). Hence, Herodotus seems to suggest that the ambiguous genealogical status of the Macedonians as Greeks reflected on their ambiguous behaviour towards Greeks and Persians during the war. In any case, the important aspect of this genealogy for the present discussion is that it is used once again as proof:

That these Macedonians, who are the descendants of Perdiccas, are Greeks as they themselves say, I happen to know for myself and will demonstrate that in a later part of my account. Furthermore, even those who preside over the Olympic Games of the Greeks have come to recognize that this is the case. ... (5.22) Now Alexander’s ancestor who lived seven generations before him was named Perdiccas, and this is the story of how he established a tyranny over the Macedonians. He was one of three brothers, Gauanes, Aeropus, and Perdiccas, who were descended from Temenus and who fed from Argos into exile to Illyria, crossed over to inland Macedon... And it was from this Perdiccas that Alexander was descended; for Alexander was the son of Amyntas, who was the son of Alcetes, whose father was Aeropus son of Philippus, the son of Argaeus, who was the son of that Perdiccas who acquired the rule of this land. (8.137–8.139)

Finally, Herodotus deploys the genealogy of the Persian kings in a discussion about the cause of an earthquake in Delos. He explains a geographical phenomenon through a divine cause, and uses this genealogy to help his argument. The evils announced by the earthquake are allegedly validated by the genealogy in two senses: all the wrongdoings performed by the Persian dynasty within the period of three generations, and all conflicts that occurred in Greece during the same period:

... Delos was shaken by an earthquake – the first and last one up until my own day. This was, I suppose, a portent by which the god revealed to mortals the evils that were going to befall them. For in three successive generations, during the reigns of Darius son of Hystaspes, Xerxes son of Darius, and Artaxerxes son of Xerxes, more evil befell Greece than in all the other generations prior to that of Darius. Some of these evils were caused by the Persians, but others by the leading states of Greece waging war for political domination among themselves. So it was not at all odd that Delos should be shaken now, although it has never been before. In fact, an oracle predicting this had been written down... (6.98)

Overall, these three instances present the same features as the genealogies of rationalized type. They employ empirical or factual proof of some sort to complement the genealogical evidence (rules to participate in the Olympic Games; a written record of an oracle), and approach a varied spectrum of polemical subjects (xenophobia, ethnic identity as determining behaviour, causes of natural phenomena).

Isocrates offers two samples of this type of genealogy. These are the only non-mythological examples in his writings, and the only ones that do not appear in political works. The first instance concerns an inheritance claim in which Thrasylochus, a citizen of the Siphnos island, dies and leaves his property to his adopted son, who took care of him in illness and assisted him during his life. A half-sister of Thrasylochus contests the will, and Isocrates writes a speech, the Aegineticus (391 BC), in defense of Thrasylochus’ adopted son (19.5–19.13, 19.33–19.38). Since the case concerns to a family dispute, the speech is centred on an account of Thrasylochus’ genos, because the kinship relations are at the heart of the debate. Thus, both contestants have their case partially justifed on the basis of law in its moral and religious aspects:

Surely you will justly cast your votes in favor, not of those who claim blood-relationship yet in their conduct have acted like enemies, but with much greater propriety you will side with those who, though having no title of relationship, yet showed themselves, when the deceased was in misfortune, more nearly akin than the nearest relatives. (19.33)

For this reason, in this particular case, genealogy does not take the form of rhetorical proof, given that the witnesses, the will and the laws are concrete evidence attesting the relations the litigants maintained with the deceased.

The second example occurs in a judicial dispute involving the younger Alcibiades, son of the famous Athenian politician Alcibiades. When the younger Alcibiades achieved his majority, Teisias indicted him on the charge that the elder Alcibiades had robbed him by entering at an Olympic festival as if they were his own (probably 416 BC) a team of four race-horses that Teisias had commissioned him to buy in Argos. Isocrates wrote the younger Alcibiades’ defense, and the speech became known as The Team of Horses (397 BC). In this speech, the speaker makes a long genealogical digression (16.22–16.35) to account for the character of his father and family as well as the good services he had done to the city. As in the example previously discussed, genealogy is not a proof of rhetorical type – despite it being used rhetorically – to the extent that people referred were likely to be still alive (at least some of them), and facts and experiences of that time were also very much alive in the memory of the Athenian community.

From the above, it is clear that the strength of a genealogical argument is related more to the association of the genealogical evidence with other proof of a factual or empirical nature than to its association with myth. Yet, it is also evident that genealogy in Herodotus retains a rhetorical characteristic, whereas in Isocrates’ forensic speeches it does not. This raises the question of whether there is variation in the use of genealogy as a means of persuasion depending on the literary genre or on the discourse mode.

I believe this is not the case for three reasons. Firstly, the value of genealogy as factual evidence in Isocrates’ forensic oratory is expressed in Herodotus’ concern to try somehow to anchor the genealogical evidence he provides in other proofs of an empirical or factual nature in various examples discussed. Secondly, there is a consistent pattern regarding mythological genealogies in that they concentrate on discussions addressing moral, ethical, and political issues. Finally, regardless of the literary genre or oratorical mode, the number of genealogical occurrences is higher in complex discussions. As the issues being addressed become more tangible and specific, such as in Isocrates’ judicial speeches, genealogical occurrences reduce considerably and their role as proof is clearly factual.

Since genealogy is mainly used as rhetorical proof in debates about complicated and obscure subjects, we can conclude that it constitutes a means of persuasion in its own right, the authoritativeness of which derives from its logical impact on the discourse economy. As such, genealogy can be related to myth when it comes to political discussions – where myth complements and potentializes its rhetorical role -, but its persuasive force results from its status as a form of tekmerion. Although genealogy can fall under other categories of evidence, such as semeion (Hdt. 1.5) or paradeigma (Isoc. 5.30–5.34, 5.105–5.115; Hdt. 5.66–5.69, 6.125–6.131), it is only after a genealogy has been established through a logical account that other types of proof branch out from it. To understand how this process works, I turn now to a discussion on tekmerion.

Genealogy as a form of τεκμήριον (tekmerion)

Since I am suggesting that genealogy is a type of tekmerion, and that this particular type of tekmerion performs an important role in the construction of Herodotus’ historical discourse and authorial credibility, we need to be clear on what a tekmerion is and on to what extent Herodotus and Isocrates have the same thing in mind when they use it. Based on the assumption that rhetoric manuals were the result of long-lasting practices and debates, I start with a discussion about tekmerion in Aristotle. Then, I compare Aristotle’s definition of tekmerion with the use Isocrates and Herodotus make of it.

Aristotle’s Rhetoric was the most influential rhetoric manual of its time and beyond. It suggests a view of rhetoric as an effort to obtain “true judgment directed towards action in an instance where the act of judgment is essentially free” and points out that “ΠΊΣΤΕΙΣ are the elements whereby this judgment is induced” (GRIMALDI, 1957, p. 188GRIMALDI, William. A Note on the pisteis in Aristotle’s Rhetoric, 1354–1356. American Journal of Philology. Vol. 78, n. 2, 1957, p. 188–192.). The word πίστις (pistis) has many meanings across Aristotle’s work, but in the specific sense of proof it includes both technical (ἔΝΤΕΧΝΟΙ) and non-technical (ἄτεχνοι) forms of persuasion (Rh 1.2). The former relies on a method and is provided by the speaker himself, who deploys techniques and subject matters that induce a favourable state of mind in the audience. Aristotle divides technical pisteis into three categories: ἦθος, (ethos), persuasion derived from the good character of the speaker; πάθος (pathos), persuasion that appeals to emotions; and λόγος (logos), persuasion that appeals to the intellect through logical argument. The latter is evidence from pre-existing facts and documents, such as witnesses, laws etc. Yet, this division is less straightforward than Aristotle would like it to be, for artless proofs could be delivered in quite artful ways.18 18 Cf. CAREY, 1994a. For artful proofs, CAREY, 1994b, p. 26–45, 1996b; BRUNSCHWIG, 1996, p. 45–47.

There are three particularly significant types of proof: εἰκός (“probability”, “plausibility”), σημεῖον (“sign”), and τεκμήριον (“necessary or irrefutable sign”, “conclusive proof”). These occupy a central place in Aristotle’s discussion of the ἐνθύμημα (enthymema) (Rh. 1.2, 1.9.40–1.9.41, 2.20.9–2.26, 3.17), since they are the main sources of rhetorical syllogism. The enthymema (“thought”, “piece of reasoning”) is a logical argument derived from deductive reasoning, therefore, a form of syllogism – regardless of the fact that the syllogism is often only hinted at rather than explicitly exposed. As a form of deductive argument, the enthymema is built on evidence originating from both given (asserted) and accepted (assumed) facts.19 19 Note that eikos, semeion, and tekmerion are not artful proofs in the strict sense – which are ethos, pathos, and logos –, but premises of the enthymema. However, eikos, semeion, tekmerion, ethos, pathos, logos, as well as other pisteis, can all become part of an enthymema. On the enthymema, see GRIMALDI, 1957; WALKER, 1994; BURNYEAT, 1996; PIAZZA, 2011. On the confusing topic of the sources of the enthymema, see MCADON, 2003.

The enthymema results from probability/likelihood (eikos) and sign (semeion). (Arist. Rh. 1.2.14–1.2.15) These seem to refer respectively to evidence generally derived from social conventions and empirical/factual phenomena. They also differ from one another in terms of the strength of the conclusion to be drawn. Eikos suggests a conclusion drawn from a possibility of certainty, while semeion suggests a conclusion already grounded in a degree of certainty. From a correct eikos it is possible to make a case in which the question at issue is quite probable, but not necessarily the case or the fact as it happened. With semeion there is a more secure relationship between evidence and conclusion, as the inference results from reality itself rather than conjecture (GRIMALDI, 1957GRIMALDI, William. A Note on the pisteis in Aristotle’s Rhetoric, 1354–1356. American Journal of Philology. Vol. 78, n. 2, 1957, p. 188–192., 1980; REGUERO, 2009, p. 375–379REGUERO, María del Carmen Encinas. La evolución de algunos conceptos retóricos. Semeion y tekmerion del s. V al IV a.C. Rhetorica. A Journal of the History of Rhetoric. Vol. 27, n. 4, 2009, p. 373–403.; KRAUS, 2011KRAUS, Manfred. How to classify means of persuasion: The Rhetoric to Alexander and Aristotle on pisteis. Rhetorica: A Journal of the History of Rhetoric. Vol. 29, n. 3, 2011, p. 263–279.). There are, however, two types of semeion:

Necessary signs are called tekmeria (τούτων δὲ τὸ μὲν ἀναγκαῖον τεκμήριον); those which are not necessary have no distinguishing name. I call those necessary signs from which a logical syllogism can be constructed, wherefore such a sign is called tekmerion (διὸ καὶ τεκμήριον τὸ τοιοῦτον τῶν σημείων ἐστίν); for when people think that their arguments are irrefutable, they think that they are bringing forward a tekmerion (τεκμήριον), something as it were proved and concluded; for in the old language tekmar and peras have the same meaning. Among signs (σημείων), some are related as the particular to the universal. For instance, if one were to say it is a sign (σημεῖον) that all wise men are just because Socrates was both wise and just. Now this is a sign (σημεῖον), but even though the particular statement is true, it can be refuted, because it cannot be reduced to syllogistic form. But if one were to say that it is a sign (σημεῖον) that a man is ill because he has a fever, or that a woman has had a child because she has milk, this is a necessary sign. This alone among signs is a tekmerion (ὅπερ τῶν σημείων τεκμήριον μόνον ἐστίν). For only in this case, if the fact is true, is the argument irrefutable. Other signs are related as the universal to the particular. For instance, if one were to say that it is a sign (σημεῖον) that this man has a fever, because he breathes hard. But even if the fact be true, this argument also can be refuted, for it is possible for a man to breathe hard without having a fever... (Rh. 1.2.16–1.2.18)20 20 In the fifth century BC physical signs are characteristic of semeion. Tekmerion may occasionally refer to physical signs, but it normally occurs in more complex contexts than the ones in which semeion appears, in that they involve a type of reasoning which is less obvious. This explains to a certain extent why, comparatively, semeion had always had a more stable meaning than tekmerion. Cf. REGUERO, 2009.

Eikos, semeion, and tekmerion are defined through the relationship they maintain with the rhetorical syllogism (enthymema), but tekmerion has stronger value than semeion because it signals a logical conclusion. The proof or the argumentative demonstration of it, which can account for the proof itself, validates the argument independently of whether the premise from which the conclusion is drawn is factually or empirically based or not, as long as there is a solid logical connection holding the elements involved in the argument tightly together to the point of not leaving space for doubt about the point being advanced. From this follows the Aristotelian concept of the term, in which tekmerion is an irrefutable proof resulting from logical reasoning.

Based on Aristotle’s framework, I look at three aspects of Herodotus’ and Isocrates’ use of tekmerion: 1) the relationship between tekmerion and empirical/factual proof; 2) the role of tekmerion in deductive reasoning (logical demonstration); 3) the impact of tekmerion on the value of the speech. There are 12 instances of the term in Herodotus and 34 in Isocrates. Since Herodotus deploys tekmerion in a wider range of contexts and presents a smaller number of occurrences, I look at these criteria in all instances of tekmerion in his work. As for Isocrates, I discuss representative passages of the most common contexts in which tekmerion appears, given the higher number of occurrences in his work and the more restricted range of situations in which it is used.21 21 The instances of tekmerion in Isocrates are orations 1 (sections 2, 13, 45), 4 (sections 68, 101), 5 (section 106), 6 (section 49), 7 (sections 17, 68), 8 (sections 95, 131), 9 (sections 51, 58), 10 (sections 8, 60), 12 (sections 52, 258), 15 (sections 33, 195, 280, 313), 17 (sections 31, 35–36, 53), 18 (sections 14, 15, 58, 66), 19 (section 51), and 21 (sections 4, 11, 18–-19).

I start with two passages in Isocrates. The first is extracted from one of his forensic speeches, the Trapeziticus (17). The context is a financial dispute between the son of Sopaeus, an important man from the kingdom of Bosporus, and a notorious banker named Pasion, who was an emancipated slave voted a citizen of Athens. The petitioner claims to have made a deposit with Pasion, who is refusing to give the money back to him. The agreement was sealed on a written tablet, but Pasion falsified the tablet, which now states that Sopaeus’ son has forsaken all his funds. The defendant has also hidden his slave Cittus, who knew all about the business between the two. This is a good example of Isocrates’ use of tekmerion, as different types of evidence are employed simultaneously and explicitly in the passage, which suggests his awareness in the manipulation of the vocabulary. The second example comes from one of his pedagogical pieces, the Antidosis (15). The context is a fictitious court case in which Isocrates, as in Plato’s Apology, defends himself from the charge of corrupting the youth by teaching his students how to speak well so they can gain unfair advantage over their peers in the courts, which is contrary to justice:

Already Pasion has tried to persuade some people that I had no money at all here, claiming that I had borrowed three hundred staters from Stratocles. It is worthwhile, therefore, that you should hear me about this also, so that you know what sorts of evidence (τεκμηρίοις) encouraged him to try to steal my money. Now, men of the jury when Stratocles was about to sail for Pontus, I, wishing to get as much of my money out of that country as possible, asked Stratocles to leave with me his own gold and on his arrival in Pontus to collect its equivalent from my father there, as I thought it would be highly advantageous not to jeopardize my money at sea, especially since the Spartans were then masters of the sea. I do not think that this is a sign (σημεῖον) that I had no money here. Rather, my dealings with Stratocles are the greatest evidence (μέγιστ’ ἔσται τεκμήρια) that I had gold on deposit with Pasion. For when Stratocles asked who would repay him in case my father failed to carry out my instructions, and if, on his return, he should not find me here, I introduced Pasion to him, and Pasion himself agreed to repay him back both the capital and the accrued interest. But if no money of mine were on deposit with him, do you think that he would so easily have become my guarantor for so much money? (17.35–17.37; cf. 1753–1754, 18.13–18.15)

Now this quotation is of a more finished style than what has been said before, but its intention is to make the same point as those passages, and this ought to be taken by you as a convincing proof (τεκμήριον) of my honesty. For you see that I did not brag and make big promises when I was young only to speak modestly for my philosophy now that I have reaped the harvest of my labours and am an old man. On the contrary I speak in the same terms both when I was at the height of my career and now that I am ready to retire from it, both when I had no thought of danger and now when I stand in jeopardy and both in addressing those who wanted to become my pupils and now in addressing those who are to vote upon my fate. I do not see, therefore, how the sincerity and honesty of my professions could be more clearly shown. (15.195; cf. 4.100–4.102, 9.51)

Regarding the relationship between tekmerion and empirical/factual proof, there is a clear absence of concrete evidence in these passages. In the first case, the contract validating the petitioner’s story was falsified and the witness of his financial transactions with Pasion was hidden. In the second case, no concrete evidence is referred to in the passage. This brings us to the second criterion of analysis, in which logical demonstration through deductive reasoning fills the evidence gap in the arguments.

In the first example, Sopaeus’ son refutes Pasion’s claim that he is poor, which means that he did not entrust any money to Pasion’s care. This argument cannot be used as proof (semeion) that the petitioner had no deposit with Pasion, for although he does not have proof that he did – the contract has been falsified and Cittus hidden –, there is a contradiction between Pasion’s words and deeds that raises doubts about his innocence. The argument goes as follows: a) for security reasons, he borrows money from Stratocles; b) Pasion was his financial sponsor in his dealings with Stratocles; c) therefore, Pasion would not have accepted to be his sponsor in that transaction if he did not have a large amount of his money as a guarantee. In the second case, Isocrates refutes the charge of corrupting the youth by emphasizing a connection between words and deeds throughout his career. Isocrates claims that he has always defended the same ideas and values independently of: a) his age (youth or retirement); b) the state he was in (confdent or scared); c) the audience he was addressing (students or justice court); d) therefore, the consistency in his behaviour through time is the greatest proof (tekmerion) of his honesty.

As for the impact of tekmerion on the value of the speech, the first example shows the inconsistency in the banker’s claim, whereas the second emphasizes the consistency between the defendant’s words and deeds. From the confrontation of two premises, and depending on whether they are consistent or inconsistent, is drawn a strong criticism that induces a conclusion in the audience’s mind regarding the clarity of the opponent’s arguments. This logical connection impacts positively on the argument as a whole by not leaving space for refutation: “if no money of mine were on deposit with him, do you think that he would so easily have become my guarantor for so much money?”; “I do not see, therefore, how the sincerity and honesty of my professions could be more clearly shown.”

As for Herodotus, his rhetoric of persuasion has been thoroughly explored by scholars. Proof citation, evidence listing, arguments from likelihood and analogy, rhetorical questions, among others, are typical features of Herodotus’ argumentative passages, as they have shown (see DARBO-PESCHANSKI, 1987, p. 137–157DARBO-PESCHANSKI, Catherine. Le discours du particulier: Essai sur l’enquête hérodotéenne. Paris: Seuil, 1987.; LIMA, 1996, p. 127–170LIMA, Paulo Butti de. L’inchiesta e la prova: Immagine storiografica, pratica giuridica e retorica nella Grecia classica. Turin: Einaudi, 1996.; THOMAS, 2000, p. 168–235THOMAS, Rosalind. Herodotus in Context: Ethnography, Science and the Art of Persuasion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.). Evidently, these aspects do not operate in isolation from each other in the way Herodotus structured his arguments. However, for the purposes of this study, I will be concentrating on the basic elements that can help us to understand tekmerion, and the relationship between tekmerion and genealogy especially. In this regard, tekmerion along with its related verb occur 12 times in the Histories:

Hdt. 1.57 (twice)

Context: Croesus makes enquiries about the most powerful Greek city in order to make her an ally in his war against Cyrus. Herodotus recites the genealogies of Athens and Sparta, and from the Athenian genealogy he speculates about the relationship between the ethnic origins of the Greeks and the Pelasgian language.

Claim/theory: If the Athenians were originally Pelasgians, Greek was their first language.

Evidence: a) The Greeks have always used the same language; b) if the Pelasgians speak a barbarian language, so did the ancient Pelasgians: “if one may judge (τεκμαιρόμενον) by those that still remain of the Pelasgians... the Pelasgians who once lived with the Athenians... and by other towns too which were once Pelasgian...; if one can judge (τεκμαιρόμενον) by these, the Pelasgians spoke a language which was not Greek”; c) if the Athenians were originally Pelasgians and the Greeks have always spoken Greek, then they learned a new language (Greek) when they became Greeks and have spoken it from the beginning.

Hdt. 2.13

Context: Herodotus discusses the territorial dimensions of Egypt

Claim/theory: Egypt’s territorial extension was built up from the silt of the Nile River

Evidence: a) Much of Egypt’s extent is alluvial deposit; b) alluvial deposit of other rivers forms the land around them; c) this hypothesis is proved by observation of the Nile Delta and its comparison with soil from other places; d) the Nile food reached all the area below Memphis in the distant past: Another significant proof (τεκμήριον) about this land was told to me by the priests: when Moeris was king [about 900 years ago], the Nile would food the region below Memphis whenever it reached the level of at least twelve feet.”; e) since Egypt’s soil is alluvial, its territory developed from the Nile alluvial sediments.

Hdt. 2.33

Context: Herodotus compares the Nile in Egypt with the River Ister [Danube] in Europe.

Claim/theory: Both the Nile and the Ister have the same length.

Evidence: a) The Nile flows from Libya and cuts Libya in half; b) the Ister begins in the country of the Celts and flows through Europe, ending in the Euxine sea; c) Nile’s source is unknown, but the two rivers have the same features, therefore, from analogy they have the same length: “if I can make conjectures about the unknown from what is known (καὶ ὡς ἐγὼ συμβάλλομαι τοῖσι ἐμφανέσι τὰ μὴ γινωσκόμενα τεκμαιρόμενος), I can conclude that it is equal to the Ister in the distance it flows from its source.”

Hdt. 2.43

Context: Herodotus discusses Heracles’ Egyptian origin.

Claim/theory: There are two Heracles-es: an Egyptian god of great antiquity and a mortal man, Alcmene and Amphitryon’s son. The latter borrowed his name from the former.

Evidence: a) Amphitryon and Alcmene were of Egyptian descent; b) the Egyptians do not recognize the names “Poseidon” and “Dioscuri”; c) if Greeks and Egyptians were trading in the distant past, the Egyptians would have become acquainted with these names; d) therefore, since Greeks and Egyptians traded in the past and the latter are acquainted with a god of great antiquity named Heracles but not with the names of the other two gods, the Egyptians did not take the name Heracles from the Greeks, but rather the other way round: “the fact is that the Greeks (that is, those Greeks who established the name of Heracles as the son of Amphitryon) took it from the Egyptians. I have many other proofs (τεκμήρια) that this is the case”.

Hdt. 2.58

Context: Herodotus describes the Egyptian festivals.

Claim/theory: Egyptian festivals are older than the Greek ones.

Evidence: a) Hesiod and Homer taught the Greeks about their gods 400 years ago; b) the Egyptians are the oldest human beings and were the first people to celebrate festivals; c) therefore, the Greeks learned about religious rituals from them: “My proof (τεκμήριον) for this assertion is that Egyptian ceremonies have obviously been held for a long time, but those of the Greeks have been instituted only recently.”

Hdt. 2.104

Context: Herodotus’ report on the Egyptian king Sesostris.

Claim/theory: The Colchians are Egyptians descended from Sesostris’ army.

Evidence: a) Colchians and Egyptians are physically similar; b) the two peoples remember each other, but the Colchians remember the Egyptians more than the Egyptians remember them; c) Colchians, Egyptians and Ethiopians are the only peoples that practice circumcision since remote times; d) other peoples, such as the Phoenicians and Syrians, learned this practice due to their close contact with the Egyptians; e) if the Phoenicians had learned circumcision from earlier contact with the Egyptians and have abandoned it now as they started having more contact with the Greeks (“That the others learned it through a close contact with Egypt, I consider clearly proved by this (ΜΈΓΑ ΜΟΙ ΚΑὶ ΤΌΔΕ τεκμήριον γίνεται): ...”), then the fact that the Colchians still practice circumcision is more proof that they are descendants of the Egyptians.

Hdt. 3.38

Context: Cambyses commits many cruel acts, and Herodotus speculates about the causes of his behaviour.

Claim/theory: Cambyses was mad.

Evidence: a) People praise and love their own culture above all others; b) Darius offers money to the Greeks to eat the bodies of their dead fathers and then to the Indians, who do eat the bodies of their dead fathers, to burn them instead. Both people refuse by arguing that Darius’ request is against their customs (“I will give this one proof among many others (τεκμηρίοισι) from which it may be inferred that all men hold this belief about their customs”); c) since people praise and love their own culture over all others, Cambyses was mad for disrespecting the customs and sacred rites of other peoples.

Hdt. 7.16

Context: Xerxes has a dream that compels him to march against Greece.

Claim/theory: Xerxes and Artabanos want to check if the dream is a divine intervention.

Evidence: a) Xerxes asks Artabanos to put on his clothes and take his place, so that the vision may appear to Artabanos and confirm his hypothesis; b) Artabanos refuses: “whatever it is that appears to you in your sleep could not possibly be so stupid as to see me and think that I am you on the evidence of your clothing (τῇ σῇ ἐσθῆτι τεκμαιρόμενον).”

Hdt. 7.234

Context: Herodotus narrates the Battle of Thermopylae.

Claim/theory: Xerxes demonstrates he trusts Demaratus.

Evidence: a) Demaratus had told the truth many times; b) therefore, Xerxes can trust him and ask his advice about the Spartans in spite of he being a Spartan himself: “Demaratus, you are a good man. My evidence for this (τεκμαίρομαι) is your past truthfulness, for everything has turned out just as you said it would.”

Hdt. 7.238

Context: Herodotus narrates the Battle of Thermopylae.

Claim/theory: Xerxes hated Leonidas.

Evidence: a) The Persians honour brave enemies; b) Leonidas’ head was cut off and impaled; c) if the Persians honour great warriors, and only Leonidas received this treatment, Xerxes must have been furious at him: “It is clear to me from this piece of evidence among many others (τεκμηρίοισι) that King Xerxes felt greater animosity for Leonidas... Otherwise he would not have treated the corpse so outrageously, since of all the peoples I know of the Persians especially honour men who are good at waging war.”

Hdt. 9.100

Context: Herodotus narrates the Battle of Mycale.

Claim/theory: The divine interferes in human matters.

Evidence: a) The Battles of Plataea and Mycale occurred on the same day and at great distance from each other; b) a rumour of the victory in Plataea went through the army; c) the news heartened the army and made it ready to face danger; e) if the news mysteriously travelled across the Aegean, and affected the outcome of the battle in favour of the Greeks, that was a divine intervention: “Now there are many clear proofs (ΤΕΚΜΗΡΊΟΙΣΙ) that the divine is present in what happens, and certainly one would be that on the day of the defeat... the troops at Mycale had been frightened before the rumour arrived... But when the news sped among them, they advanced against the enemy with lighter and swifter step.”

Concerning the first aspect of tekmerion, Herodotus makes deductions from little or no empirical evidence at all. He offers a series of requirements he thinks necessary to reach a given conclusion, and the conclusion guarantee is solely its premises. Herodotus does mention other kinds of proof on many occasions (2.43, 3.38, 7.238, 9.100), but he hardly discusses them. The contexts where these occurrences appear address complicated or controversial phenomena/facts that cannot be assessed from direct observation. One significant aspect in bringing Herodotus’ and Isocrates’ approaches to tekmerion close together is that tekmerion arguments most of the time concern people. In Isocrates, the emphasis lies on the relationship between words and deeds. In Herodotus, the emphasis lies on human actions and behavior (8 out of 12 instances / exceptions: a. natural phenomena: 2.13, 2.33; b. supernatural phenomena: 7.16, 9.100).

Regarding the second aspect of tekmerion, namely its role in deductive reasoning (logical demonstration), Herodotus’ intervention and judgment are fundamental for unraveling meaning to the audience, since tekmeria are invisible even when assisted by some visible signs (2.13, 2.33, 2.104, 3.38, 7.238), either because they are not explicitly exposed to the naked eye or because they exist only in the past. Thus, tekmerion presents facts that are non-evident or unclear. The structure of these passages varies depending on the complexity of the issue in hand. But they offer plenty of conditional, causal and, conclusive clauses (e.g. εἰ, γάρ, οὕτως) that mark on the textual surface of the narrative Herodotus’ mental process of inferential reasoning from which tekmerion results: if A is the case, then B will follow. If B is not the case, A, consequently, will not follow.

Finally, there is the impact of tekmerion on the speech value. Herodotus’ tekmerion constitutes almost but not quite conclusive evidence, in the sense that it is conclusive to win an argument, but less decisive than the tekmerion argument in Isocrates and Aristotle. In other words, tekmerion in the Histories explicitly signals to the audience that the argument leaves space for doubt and uncertainty: “I cannot say with certainty” (1.57); “Since I wished to know something clear about this matter from any source I could find” (2.43–2.44). Hence tekmerion in Herodotus has a well-built but limited trustworthiness degree, for it is a type of proof relatively open to questioning.

Even though tekmerion in Herodotus is less straightforward than in Isocrates and Aristotle, this variation occurs within common boundaries related to the word semantic development through time. Before the fourth century BC, tekmerion indicates something complex that needs to be interpreted, and interpretation, regardless of how persuasive it may be, is open to questioning. Accordingly, tekmerion in Herodotus involves a type of deductive reasoning that considers the limitations of human intellectual capabilities and the possibility of error. Conversely, the possibility of error is eliminated from the Aristotelian tekmerion, because the forms of speech validation are internal, that is, they depend on the orator’s skills. Thus, Aristotle creates a rhetorical system that mirrors his logical system to the needs of which tekmerion is adapted. Since the possibility of error does not depend on external validation, it is minimized by the clarity of logical reasoning. Therefore, it would be anachronistic to suggest that tekmerion in Herodotus corresponds to an “irrefutable piece of evidence” as in Aristotle.22 22 BURNYEAT (1996), nonetheless, suggests that Aristotle’s rhetorical syllogism is not as formal and rigid as we had thought. He proposes that it can simply account for a valid argument. Tekmerion in the Histories, however, suggests the idea of a solid logical connection between discourse and stated facts that helps the audience to interpret the question at issue by pointing towards a direction of conclusion which usually is the interpretation the speaker himself wants to give to the facts. Hence, Herodotus’ conclusions may be less secure, but they are not less decisive than the ones offered by Isocrates and Aristotle.

In this sense, Herodotus’ use of tekmerion is far from being intuitive, and in many aspects it seems to be a precedent to Isocrates’ use and Aristotle’s definition of this word (THOMAS, 2000, p. 191THOMAS, Rosalind. Herodotus in Context: Ethnography, Science and the Art of Persuasion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. note 54). This is especially so if we think of Aristotle’s work as the culmination of a long and cumulative process of practices and reflection on the nature, function, and purposes of rhetoric, of which tekmerion was part. The Greek rhetorical treatises of the fourth century BC systematized and formalized categories and concepts but did not invent them, because they were based on pre-existent trends in oratory. Therefore, it is possible to conclude that tekmerion in Herodotus is consonant with the meaning of the term in Isocrates, and that the use both authors make of it generally corresponds to the concept offered by Aristotle.

Genealogy as a powerful rhetorical tool in historiography, oratory, and beyond

When Aristotle defines tekmerion, he says that the contemporary meaning of the word derives from its old meaning: “when people think that their arguments are irrefutable, they think that they are bringing forward a tekmerion, something as it were proved and concluded; for in the old language tekmar and peras have the same meaning” (Rh. 1.2.17). Tekmar (ΤΈΚΜΑΡ, epic form ΤΈΚΜΩΡ), from which the term tekmerion derives, originally meant “a fixed mark or boundary”, but it also had the meaning of “goal”, “end”, “purpose”. This is the main meaning of tekmar and its related verb in Homer: “But, since the gods so ordained these ills (αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ τάδε γ’ ὧδε θεοὶ κακὰ τεκμήραντο), I wish that I had been wife to a better man, who could feel the indignation of his fellows and their many revilings” (Il. 6.349); “Three strides he took as he went, and with the fourth stride he reached his goal (τὸ δὲ τέτρατον ἵκετο ΤΈΚΜΩΡ)” (Il. 13.20); “So long are you pent in this isle and can find no appointed end (οὐδέ τι τέκμωρ εὑρέμεναι δύνασαι), and the heart of your comrades grows faint” (Od. 4.373). (see also Il. 16.472 and Od. 10.563)

This meaning also appears in other poets: “But those who give straight judgments to foreigners and fellow-citizens and do not turn aside from justice at all, their city blooms and the people in it flower. For them, Peace, the nurse of the young, is on the earth, and far-seeing Zeus never appoints painful war (ΟὐΔΈ ΠΟΤ’ ΑὐΤΟῖΣ ἀΡΓΑΛΈΟΝ ΠΌΛΕΜΟΝ ΤΕΚΜΑΊΡΕΤΑΙ ΕὐΡΎΟΠΑ ΖΕΎΣ)” (Hes. WD 225); “The god accomplishes every purpose just as he wishes (θεὸς ἅπαν ἐπὶ ἐλπίδεσσι τέκμαρ ἀνύεται)” (Pind. P. 2.49). Yet, the best example illustrating this purpose sense is a fragment of the Spartan poet Alcman (7th century BC). It clearly shows an intimate relationship between genealogy and tekmor which hints at why genealogy is a powerful form of tekmerion:

... Tekmor came into being (τέ]κμωρ ἐγένετο) after Poros... thereupon... (called him) Poros since (the beginning ‘provided’ all things?); for when the matter began to be set in order, a certain Poros came into being as a beginning. So Alcman (represents) the matter of all things as confused and unformed. Then he says that one came into being who set all things in order, then that Poros came into being, and that when Poros had passed by Tekmor followed (τοῦ [δὲ πό]ρου παρελθόντος ἐπακολουθῆ[σαι] τέκμωρ). And Poros is as a beginning, Tekmor like an end (Τὸ Δὲ ΤΈΚΜΩΡ ΟἱΟΝΕὶ ΤΈΛΟΣ). When Thetis had come into being, a beginning and end of all things came into being (simultaneously), and all things have their nature resembling the matter of bronze, while Thetis has hers resembling that of the craftsman, Poros and Tekmor resembling the beginning and the end (ὁ δὲ πόρος καὶ τὸ τέκμωρ τῆι ἀρχῆι καὶ τῶι τέλει). ... (Fr.5)

As a thought process that explains what things are by describing their being in a fundamentally teleological way (generation, separation, differentiation, hierarchization, and individuation), genealogy-making seems a universal and necessary principle very similar to the cosmic force that orients the universe dynamics and evolution in Alcman’s cosmogony, inasmuch as it designates the purpose and meaning of things – including tekmerion itself. This makes genealogy not only a form of tekmerion, but a tekmerion of a very powerful kind. As previously discussed, tekmerion was used as conclusive proof derived from logical reasoning. Not only conclusive in the sense of an intellectual process from which a conclusion is drawn, but also as proof that cannot be easily contested due to the logical process that structures it. This process is based on conjecture from what is known to understand what is unknown, for it tries to connect a complex series of facts from a limited range of vestiges and signs that supposedly link them. The appeal to the biological metaphor of the family to make sense of what is unknown, unseen, uncertain and/or obscure creates a tekmerion with an almost irresistible persuasive force. Not only because of the impeccable logical consistency of the argument it conveys, but especially because it results from logical reasoning that reconciles reason and emotion. Thus, genealogy can be considered the expression of tekmerion in its fullest potential, as it touches at the heart of an experience shared by all human beings and probably the dearest to them of all: the family. Considering that family relationships are the most basic and unconditional aspect of any person’s life, the deepest feelings they foster in each individual offer considerable epistemological value as a form of validation in explaining situations of various sorts due to their unquestionable psychological clarity.

The appeal to what is psychologically evident (for being emotionally significant) to make sense of the cosmos and its functioning has been traditionally associated with a more “intuitive” type of reasoning characteristic of preliterate societies, in which it is the divine that vouches for knowledge credibility. For example, genealogical narratives explaining the universe origin and formation or times long past, such as the Hesiodic Theogony, are a worldwide phenomenon still present in tribal societies today. However, even in developed countries where intellectual activities are clearly distinguished from other spheres of society and duly institutionalized – being realized in specific spaces (schools, libraries, laboratories, universities, research centres, and so on) and oriented by guidelines that regulate the production of knowledge (methods of research, theories, rules of intellectual property etc.) –, emotional experiences, particularly those intense feelings fostered by family relationships, still pervade the various forms in which we engage with and try to make sense of the world.

For this reason, some scholars have criticized rigid academic formalism by arguing that it loses sight of an important and vibrant aspect of the lives of those whom they seek to describe and understand. Because emotions are obvious and ordinary experiences, they seem unworthy of a close inquiry and are therefore often marginalized in academic analysis. Nonetheless, since people invest so much time and energy working on their feelings, these inevitably guide all possible actions the individual may take, regardless of whether the decision is social, political, or economic. It is not possible, therefore, to have an epistemological understanding of one without the other.

This is one of Janet Carsten’s criticisms of traditional approaches to kinship, which are, in her view, too focused on the instrumental aspects of family relations (lineages, alliances, inheritance, kinship terminology etc.) (CARSTEN, 2004CARSTEN, Janet. After Kinship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.; cf. PELETZ, 1995PELETZ, Michael. Kinship studies in late twentieth-century anthropology. Annual Review of Anthropology. Vol. 24, 1995, p. 343–372.). Carsten proposes instead an analytical reconfiguration of the kinship studies feld based on the rejection of any clear-cut separation between nature and culture and the opposition between Western and non-Western cultures. Some of Carsten’s most compelling examples are: the importance of discovering birth kin to the sense of identity of adoptees who grew up without knowledge of their biological family; a widow who wanted to use the sperm of her deceased husband to have a child; and cases of organ donation in which finding out about and connecting with people who received organs from a lost loved one have a paramount impact on the emotional state of those who cannot enjoy the company of their loved ones anymore. Based on such instances, the author claims that rather than these being simply responses to unusual circumstances, it is, in fact, precisely the ordinary experience of daily kinship relations and the strong emotion they foster in people that are at stake in all these cases. As for the dichotomy posited between nature and culture, Carsten calls attention to a progressive development of “technologization of nature and a naturalization of technology” (CARSTEN, 2004, p. 174CARSTEN, Janet. After Kinship. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.). In this regard, she argues that, although many of our assumptions about the traditional family concept have been shaken in the contemporary world, and new forms, concerns, and social patterns of family experience have arisen – to a great extent due to the emergence of new forms of kinship relations as well as the endless possibilities offered by new technologies (e.g. single parenthood, gay marriage, fertility treatments, in vitro fertilization, posthumous conception, surrogacy, sperm/egg donation etc.) –, all these (sometimes overwhelming) changes are framed in terms of what is already familiar.

This is a striking example of reason and emotion being used to inform one another in the context of academic research, being focused as it is on a criticism of traditional kinship studies in which this type of argument was paradoxically neglected for a long time. But even in classical scholarship some critics have touched on similar issues. For example, Foxhall criticizes ancient and modern discussions of friendship in the Greek (Athenian) polis for underplaying the significance and manifestation of emotion and affection in personal relationships, insofar as they have focused too much on the formal and instrumental sense of philia. Foxhall attributes this partially to a matter of literary genre: “there are certain contexts and particular media where the expressions of intimate sentiments are acceptable, and many where they are not. Indeed, who you are may considerably limit the freedom with which sentiment can be expressed as well as its medium” (FOXHALL, 1998, p. 56–57FOXHALL, Lin. The politics of affection: Emotional attachments in Athenian society. In: CARTLEDGE, Paul; MILLETT, Paul; REDEN, Sitta von (ed.) Kosmos: Essays in Order, Conflict and Community in Classical Athens. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998, p. 52–67.). Nevertheless, recent studies have revealed that classical authors not only consciously cast the language of the polis and interstate politics in terms of kinship relations, but also that their narrative appropriation of those notions can shed light on their interpretations of facts and authorial personality. This is the main argument of Fragoulaki’s study on Thucydides, the objective historian par excellence and “Realpolitik guru” (author’s words). She argues that Thucydides is very concerned with emotions and morality in his History, and that this neglected part of his work has left in the dark important aspects of his historical narrative and authorial qualities (e.g. “emotional motives” as explanations of ethnic conflicts) (FRAGOULAKI, 2013, p. 20, 25FRAGOULAKI, Maria. Kinship in Thucydides: Intercommunal Ties and Historical Narrative. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.; cf. CRANE, 1996, p. 75–161CRANE, Gregory. The Blinded Eye: Thucydides and the New Written Word. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1996.).

If emotion is a key element pervading all society’s aspects, including knowledge and our own relationship with knowledge, I think it is plausible to conclude that ancient Greek writers made extensive use of genealogy as a discursive tool because they were aware of the cultural, ethical, and emotional baggage genealogy evokes and how it could work as a cognitive code to make sense of highly complex problems, thus impacting positively on situations in which only persuasion could help to convey a message.

Conclusion

In this article, I have tried to contribute to the debate about the relationship between genealogy and history in the development of ancient historiography by situating genealogy in the context of the Herodotean historie. In this way, I have focused on the rhetorical aspect of genealogy, which seemed little explored in the scholarship on this subject. Pursuing this, I started by defining what I mean by genealogy and textual authority, and then I moved on to a discussion about the genealogical evidence in Herodotus and Isocrates. Isocrates has been chosen for comparative analysis because he is a representative author of the oratorical genre, and I hoped that the deployment of genealogy in rhetorical texts could shed light on Herodotus’ use of genealogy. I have also chosen him because of the important role history plays in his writings. Based on this comparative analysis, I suggested that genealogy is a form of tekmerion. Next, I discussed the meaning of tekmerion in Isocrates and Herodotus to determine if their use of the word corresponds to the concept of tekmerion in classical rhetorical theory, particularly as defined by Aristotle. Then, I argued that tekmerion can present different features resulting both from its historical evolution as a concept and from the writer’s authorial style, but overall its essential premise and function remain constant over time and across genres. Finally, I looked at the relationship between tekmerion and genealogy to demonstrate what makes genealogy a particularly significant type of tekmerion and to situate the role performed by genealogy in the Herodotean historie. I suggested that, in the absence of concrete evidence to support claims on controversial subjects, genealogy worked as a particularly powerful form of tekmerion for appealing simultaneously to logical and emotional reasoning.

With this, I hope to have shown that: 1) the use of genealogy to explain various aspects of life, which was a prominent feature of the archaic period, continues to exist throughout the entire Greek history, including in literary and scientific works where traditional and innovative approaches met without necessarily excluding one another; 2) genealogy was a particularly significant rhetorical technique in ancient history-writing; 3) as a rhetorical tool it could be used to persuade in various ways;23 23 Herodotus employs genealogy as rhetorical proof in the most challenging situations on various topics to which he applies his historie: to discuss politics, where, as we have seen at the beginning, genealogy is combined with the authoritative force of myth; to organize time, since genealogical narratives offered the only temporal reference mode then available; to explain the exchange of technology between different peoples, as in the case of the introduction of writing in Greece; to demonstrate that ethical values determine the behaviour of individuals/peoples – regardless of how polemical the actual implications of this can be –, as in the story of Anacharsis, Scyles and the Scythians’ attachment to their own customs; as a thought process to understand, and to prove his interpretation of, the relationship between humans, heroes and gods; as well as abstract concepts as ethnic identity or why the continents were named after women. and 4) the relationship between genealogy and history in the development of ancient historiography is more complex and multifaceted than we previously thought.

  • This article has not been published in a preprint platform. All sources and bibliography used are referred to in the article.
  • 3
    For instance, THOMAS, 2001aTHOMAS, Rosalind. Ethnicity, genealogy, and Hellenism in Herodotus. In: MALKIN, Irad (ed.) Ancient Perceptions of Greek Ethnicity. Washington, D.C./London: Centre for Hellenic Studies, Trustees for Harvard University, 2001a, p. 213–233. for genealogy and ethnicity; ZOGRAPHOU, 2007ZOGRAPHOU, Gerasimoula. Généalogie et historiographie: Une réécriture de la généalogie des rois de Sparte. Le cas de Démarate chez Hérodote. Kernos. Vol. 20, 2007, p. 189–204. for genealogy, politics and narrative structure.
  • 4
    VARTO, 2009VARTO, Emily. Early Greek Kinship. Vancouver: Unpublished PhD Dissertation, University of British Columbia, 2009.. Whereas Varto’s arguments are useful and I agree with most of them, I do not agree with the claim that genealogies in Herodotus do not show storytelling. The author classifes the genealogies in the Histories alongside a few exceptions that present only descent information in a list-like format. I understand that Varto is concerned with early genealogical accounts, and that she intends to show that genealogy-making seems to have been affected by literary techniques of history writing instead of the other way around. However, we cannot lose sight of the fact that any list-like genealogy is a simplification of the stories about who those people were and what they did/represented. A simple name list does not account for the genealogy’s importance. That relies on what is known about one’s ancestors, regardless of whether or not a story about them appears explicitly attached to the biological information. The author herself seems to suggest that on other occasions (p. 133, 141–142). Moreover, the genealogies Varto refers to as list-like are connected with other passages, therefore there is the importance to consider the immediate context and its relationship with the narrative as a whole (e.g. 6.51–6.52, 6.61–6.69, 7.204, 8.131; 5.22, 8.137–8.139). Finally, if, on the one hand, the “method of composition through literary means on the part of Herodotus and the late date of the list-like genealogies, show that genealogy as a whole probably did not play the historiographic role of inspiring chronological thinking that is often assigned to it” (p. 161), on the other hand, that does not mean it did not play any role at all in the development of ancient historiography. I prefer thinking that genealogical and historiographical traditions mutually affected and reshaped one another. Thus, genealogy impacted in many ways on the development of ancient historiography, especially – although not exclusively – with regards to authoritative claims in the context of the Herodotean historie, as I hope to demonstrate.
  • 5
    For examples of overlapping between interests of individuals/peoples and communities/states/institutions in genealogy, see VARTO, 2009, p. 150-162VARTO, Emily. Early Greek Kinship. Vancouver: Unpublished PhD Dissertation, University of British Columbia, 2009..
  • 6
    Genealogy can be classifed in various ways, such as historical/mythical and prose/poetic. These can include all members of the family (women, men, children), present a continuous list of supposedly father-son relationships going back to an original ancestor (“full genealogy”) or emphasize recent and very remote ancestors with a vague gap in-between (“floating gap”/“telescoping phenomenon”).
  • 7
    I have adopted the Loeb translations with some adaptations. For Herodotus, I have also used the volume edited by R.B. STRASSLER, The Landmark Herodotus.
  • 8
    I adopt Baragwanath and Bakker’s definition of myth, who suggest that: 1. gods and heroes are the main subjects of myth, in spite of its narrative format; 2. myth is traditional in that it cannot be attributed to a specific authorship, appearing as it does in different works and genres; 3. myths had important collective meaning for a particular social group or groups. (BARAGWANATH & BAKKER, 2012, p. 10–19BARAGWANATH, Emily; BAKKER, Mathieu de (ed.) Myth, Truth and Narrative in Herodotus. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.)
  • 9
    For the different uses of Heracles’ genealogy in Isocrates, GOTTELAND, 1998, p. 379–393GOTTELAND, Sophie. Généalogies mythiques et politique chez les orateurs attiques. In: AUGER, Danièle; SAÏD, Suzanne (dir.) Généalogies mythiques: Actes du VIIIe Colloque du Centre de Recherches Mythologiques de l’Université de Paris-X. Paris: Centre de Recherches Mythologiques, 1998, p. 379–393., 2001.
  • 10
    After the Battle of Leuctra (371 BC), in which the Spartans and their allies fought against the Boeotians led by the Thebans, Sparta lost the influence she had acquired with her victory in the Peloponnesian War.
  • 11
    For myth as a form of authoritative utterance, see MARTIN, 1989MARTIN, Richard. The Language of Heroes: Speech and Performance in the Iliad. Ithaca/London: Cornell University Press, 1989.; FOWLER, 2011, p. 52–53FOWLER, Robert. Mythos and logos. Journal of Hellenic Studies. Vol. 131, 2011, p. 45–66..
  • 12
    To Herodotus, historie is an intellectual process based on the critical assessment of information obtained mainly – but not exclusively – by autopsy and hearsay (2.29, 2.99). As a corollary, it also meant the results of such an inquiry in the form of narrative/text (1.1).
  • 13
    On the rationalization of myth, see FOWLER, 2011FOWLER, Robert. Mythos and logos. Journal of Hellenic Studies. Vol. 131, 2011, p. 45–66..
  • 14
    VANDIVER, 1991, p. 249–253VANDIVER, Elizabeth. Heroes in Herodotus: The Interaction of Myth and History. Frankfurt am Main: P. Lang, 1991.; PELLING, 1996PELLING, Christopher. The urine and the vine: Astyages’ dreams at 1.107–8. Classical Quarterly. Vol. 46, 1996, p. 68–77.; AUGER, 1998AUGER, Danièle. Arbre généalogique et plant de vigne. In: AUGER, Danièle; SAÏD, Suzanne (dir.) Généalogies mythiques: Actes du VIIIe Colloque du Centre de Recherches Mythologiques de l’Université de Paris-X. Paris: Centre de Recherches Mythologiques, 1998, p. 87–118.; RENAUD, 1998RENAUD, Jean-Michel. La généalogie de Tydée et de Diomède. In: AUGER, Danièle; SAÏD, Suzanne (dir.) Généalogies mythiques: Actes du VIIIe Colloque du Centre de Recherches Mythologiques de l’Université de Paris-X. Paris: Centre de Recherches Mythologiques, 1998, p. 15–28.; CHIASSON, 2012CHIASSON, Charles. Myth and truth in Herodotus’ Cyrus logos. In: BARAGWANATH, Emily; BAKKER, Mathieu de (ed.) Myth, Truth and Narrative in Herodotus. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012, p. 213–232.; FOWLER, 2013, p. 130–147FOWLER, Robert. Early Greek Mythography. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013, vol. 2..
  • 15
    BOEDEKER, 1987BOEDEKER, Deborah. The two faces of Demaratus. Arethusa. Vol. 20, 1987, p. 185–201.; VANDIVER, 1991, p. 102–107VANDIVER, Elizabeth. Heroes in Herodotus: The Interaction of Myth and History. Frankfurt am Main: P. Lang, 1991.; ZOGRAPHOU, 2007ZOGRAPHOU, Gerasimoula. Généalogie et historiographie: Une réécriture de la généalogie des rois de Sparte. Le cas de Démarate chez Hérodote. Kernos. Vol. 20, 2007, p. 189–204..
  • 16
    HOW & WELLS, 1912, p. 117HOW, Walter Wybergh; WELLS, Joseph. A Commentary on Herodotus. 1st Edition 1912. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1979, 2 vols.; WEST, 1985, p. 133WEST, Martin. The Hesiodic Catalogue of Women: Its Nature, Structure, and Origins. Oxford: Clarendon, 1985.; THOMAS, 1989, p. 268–270THOMAS, Rosalind. Oral Tradition and Written Record in Classical Athens. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.; VANDIVER, 1991, p. 255–257VANDIVER, Elizabeth. Heroes in Herodotus: The Interaction of Myth and History. Frankfurt am Main: P. Lang, 1991.; NENCI, 1998, p. 306NENCI, Giuseppe. Commento VI, 125–131. In: Erodoto. Le Storie Libro VI. La Battaglia di Maratona. Roma/Milan: Fondazione Lorenzo Valla/Arnoldo Mondadori, 1998, p. 304–311.; CINGANO, 2005, p. 118–152CINGANO, Ettore. A catalogue within a catalogue: Helen’s suitors in the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women (frr.196–204). In: HUNTER, Richard (ed.) The Hesiodic Catalogue of Women: Constructions and Reconstructions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005, p. 118–152.; IRWIN, 2005, p. 65–83IRWIN, Elizabeth. Gods among men? The social and political dynamics of the Hesiodic Catalogue of Women. In: HUNTER, Richard (ed.) The Hesiodic Catalogue of Women: Constructions and Reconstructions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005, p. 35–84.; RUTHERFORD, 2005, p. 114RUTHERFORD, Ian. Mestra at Athens: Hesiod fr.43 and the poetics of PanHellenism. In: HUNTER, Richard (ed.) The Hesiodic Catalogue of Women: Constructions and Reconstructions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005, p. 99–117.; KURKE, 2011, p. 412–426KURKE, Leslie. Herodotus and Aesop: Some soundings. In: Aesopic Conversations: Popular Tradition, Cultural Dialogue and the Invention of Greek Prose. Princeton, N.J./Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2011, p. 398–431..
  • 17
    When Herodotus applies historie to rationalize myth he is targeting a specific type of myth, which in my opinion is a set of stories about the Greek past focused on gods and heroes. See notes 8 and 12.
  • 18
    Cf. CAREY, 1994aCAREY, Christopher. ‘Artless’ proof in Aristotle and the orators. Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies. Vol. 39, 1994a, p. 95–106.. For artful proofs, CAREY, 1994b, p. 26–45CAREY, Christopher. Rhetorical means of persuasion. In: WORTHINGTON, Ian (ed.) Persuasion: Greek Rhetoric in Action. London: Routledge, 1994b, p. 26–45., 1996b; BRUNSCHWIG, 1996, p. 45–47BRUNSCHWIG, Jacques. Aristotle’s rhetoric as a ‘counterpart’ to dialectic. In: RORTY, Amélie Oksenberg (ed.) Essays on Aristotle’s Rhetoric. Berkeley/London: University of California Press, 1996, p. 34–55..
  • 19
    Note that eikos, semeion, and tekmerion are not artful proofs in the strict sense – which are ethos, pathos, and logos –, but premises of the enthymema. However, eikos, semeion, tekmerion, ethos, pathos, logos, as well as other pisteis, can all become part of an enthymema. On the enthymema, see GRIMALDI, 1957GRIMALDI, William. A Note on the pisteis in Aristotle’s Rhetoric, 1354–1356. American Journal of Philology. Vol. 78, n. 2, 1957, p. 188–192.; WALKER, 1994WALKER, Jeffrey. The body of persuasion: A theory of the enthymeme. College English. Vol. 56, n. 1, 1994, p. 46–65.; BURNYEAT, 1996BURNYEAT, Myles. Enthymeme: Aristotle on the rationality of rhetoric. In: RORTY, Amélie Oksenberg (ed.) Essays on Aristotle’s Rhetoric. Berkeley/London: University of California Press, 1996, p. 88–115.; PIAZZA, 2011PIAZZA, Francesca. Pisteis in comparison: Examples and enthymemes in the Rhetoric to Alexander and Aristotle’s Rhetoric. A Journal of the History of Rhetoric. Vol. 29, n. 3, 2011, p. 305–318.. On the confusing topic of the sources of the enthymema, see MCADON, 2003MCADON, Brad. Probabilities, signs, necessary signs, idia, and topoi: The confusing discussion of materials for enthymemes in the Rhetoric. Philosophy & Rhetoric. Vol. 36, n. 3, 2003, p. 223–247..
  • 20
    In the fifth century BC physical signs are characteristic of semeion. Tekmerion may occasionally refer to physical signs, but it normally occurs in more complex contexts than the ones in which semeion appears, in that they involve a type of reasoning which is less obvious. This explains to a certain extent why, comparatively, semeion had always had a more stable meaning than tekmerion. Cf. REGUERO, 2009REGUERO, María del Carmen Encinas. La evolución de algunos conceptos retóricos. Semeion y tekmerion del s. V al IV a.C. Rhetorica. A Journal of the History of Rhetoric. Vol. 27, n. 4, 2009, p. 373–403..
  • 21
    The instances of tekmerion in Isocrates are orations 1 (sections 2, 13, 45), 4 (sections 68, 101), 5 (section 106), 6 (section 49), 7 (sections 17, 68), 8 (sections 95, 131), 9 (sections 51, 58), 10 (sections 8, 60), 12 (sections 52, 258), 15 (sections 33, 195, 280, 313), 17 (sections 31, 35–36, 53), 18 (sections 14, 15, 58, 66), 19 (section 51), and 21 (sections 4, 11, 18–-19).
  • 22
    BURNYEAT (1996)BURNYEAT, Myles. Enthymeme: Aristotle on the rationality of rhetoric. In: RORTY, Amélie Oksenberg (ed.) Essays on Aristotle’s Rhetoric. Berkeley/London: University of California Press, 1996, p. 88–115., nonetheless, suggests that Aristotle’s rhetorical syllogism is not as formal and rigid as we had thought. He proposes that it can simply account for a valid argument.
  • 23
    Herodotus employs genealogy as rhetorical proof in the most challenging situations on various topics to which he applies his historie: to discuss politics, where, as we have seen at the beginning, genealogy is combined with the authoritative force of myth; to organize time, since genealogical narratives offered the only temporal reference mode then available; to explain the exchange of technology between different peoples, as in the case of the introduction of writing in Greece; to demonstrate that ethical values determine the behaviour of individuals/peoples – regardless of how polemical the actual implications of this can be –, as in the story of Anacharsis, Scyles and the Scythians’ attachment to their own customs; as a thought process to understand, and to prove his interpretation of, the relationship between humans, heroes and gods; as well as abstract concepts as ethnic identity or why the continents were named after women.

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    25 Feb 2022
  • Date of issue
    2022

History

  • Received
    04 Jan 2021
  • Accepted
    26 Apr 2021
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