The Ancient Library

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VI. tim^us (Tifjiaios)1 of Tauromenium, in Sicily, the celebrated his­torian, was the son of Andromachus, tyrant of that place. Timaeus at­tained the age of ninety-six, and though we do not know the exact date either of his birth or death, we can not be far wrong in placing his birth in B.C. 352, and his death iff B.C. 256. Timaeus received instruction from Philiscus the Milesian, a disciple of Isocrates ; but we have no far­ther particulars of his life, except that he was banished from Sicily by Agathocles, and passed his exile at Athens, where he had lived fifty years when he wrote the thirty-fourth book of his history.2 The great work of Timaeus was a history of Sicily from the earliest times to B.C. 264, With which year Polybius commences the introduction to his work. This history was one of great extent. We have a quotation from the thirty-eighth book, and there were probably many books after this. The work appears to have been divided into several great sections, which are quoted with separate titles, though they, in reality, formed a part of one great whole. The last five books contained the history of Agathocles. Timaeus wrote the history of Pyrrhus as a separate work,3 but as it falls within the time treated of in his general history, it may almost be regarded as an episode of the latter.

The value and authority of Timaeus as an historian have been most vehemently attacked by Polybius in many parts of his work. He main­tains that Timaeus was totally deficient in the first qualifications of an historian, as he possessed no practical knowledge of war or politics, and never attempted to obtain by travelling a personal acquaintance with the places and countries he described ; but, on the contrary, confined his residence to one spot for fifty years, and there gained all his knowledge from books alone. Polybius also remarks, that Timaeus had so little power of observation, and so weak a judgment, that he was unable to give a correct account even of the things he had seen, and of the places he had visited ; and adds, that he was likewise so superstitious, that his work abounded with old traditions and well-known fables, while things of graver importance were entirely omitted. Polybius also charges him with frequently stating willful falsehoods, and of indulging in all kinds of calumnies against the most distinguished men, such as Homer, Aristotle, and Theophrastus. These charges are repeated by Diodorus and other ancient writers, among whom Timaeus earned so bad a character by his slanders and calumnies, that he was nicknamed Epitim&us ('EariTifjLcuos), or the Fault-finder.4

Most of the charges of Polybius against Timaeus are unquestionably founded upon truth; but from the statements of other writers, and from the fragments which we possess of Timseus's own work, we are led to conclude that Polybius has greatly exaggerated the defects of Timaeus, and has omitted to mention his peculiar excellences. Nay, several of the very points which Polybius regarded as great blemishes in his work, were, in reality, some of its greatest merits. Thus it was one of the great merits of Timaeus, for which he is loudly denounced by Polybius,

1 Smith, Diet. Biog., s. v. 2 Polyb., Exc. Vat., p. 389, 393, 3 Dionys., i., 6 ; Cic., Ep. ad Fam., v., 12. 4 Athen., vi., p, 272, B,

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