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Ancilla to the Pre-Socratic Philosophers, by Kathleen Freeman, [1948], at


Hecataeus of Abdêra lived at the end of the fourth and the beginning of the third centuries B.C.

He was credited with books On the Hyperboreans and On the Philosophy of the Egyptians. A work On the Jews was also attributed to him.

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(From 'On the Hyperboreans').

1. (Elixoia, island of the Hyperboreans, lies beyond the river Karambyka; the islanders are named Karambykae from the river).

2. (Hecataeus calls the Northern Ocean 'Amalchius' from the River Parapanisus onward, which river irrigates Scythia: the name 'Amalchius' in Scythian means frozen').

3. (He celebrated the Hyperboreans and their worship of Apollo).

4. (Hecataeus says that the Hyperboreans survived to his day. They worship Apollo, who has been seen visiting them. There are three branches of Hyperboreans).

5. (Hecataeus and others say that in the place opposite the Celtic land, in the ocean, is an island not smaller than Sicily; this belongs to the north, and is inhabited by the so-called Hyperboreans. It is fertile and productive and of fine climate, and has two crops a year.

They say that the moon, being only a short distance away, can be completely seen, and has several earthy projections clearly visible. It is said that Apollo visits the island every 19th year, and this is called by the Greeks a Great Year, when all the constellations are completing their journeys. On his appearance, the god plays the harp and dances all night long, from the spring equinox to the rise of the Pleiades, enjoying his own fine weather. This State is ruled by the Boreadae, who are descendants of Boreas; and the offices are hereditary).

(From the work 'On the Philosophy of the Egyptians').

6. (The Egyptians speak riddlingly of their gods in the form of beetle, serpent, hawk etc., as Manetho and Hecataeus say. Hecataeus says that the Magi say that the gods 'come into being'. The Magi preach immortality for men).

7. (Diodorus’ account of Egyptian theology, thought to be partly drawn from Hecataeus).

8. (Hecataeus says that 'Ammon' is not a particular name given to Zeus, but a way of calling the premier god and summoning him to appear).

9. (Heracleitus and Hecataeus say that the sun is a wet flame from the sea).

10. (Tnephachthos while on a campaign, being obliged to eat with 

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ordinary men, enjoyed the fare so much that ever afterwards he was hostile to luxury and cursed the King who had introduced it. The curse was written up on the Temple of Zeus at Thebes in hieroglyphics).

11. (The ministrants at Heliopolis do not take wine into the temple. Others use it, but sparingly. There are many wineless rites. The Pharaohs, being priests, used to drink an amount specified in the holy writings).

12. (Diodorus states that Hecataeus is one of those Greeks who have written a History of Egypt, and who agree with his account of the Theban dynasty).

13. (Photius says that Diodorus’ account of the history, laws and customs of the Jews are false, but that he hides behind Hecataeus).

13a. (The greatness of Egyptian Thebes before its destruction by Persia: figures of Hecataeus are quoted. The Thebaid contained 13,030 villages, 7 million men, etc. There were four other small 'cities of Zeus', in one of which they kept crocodiles in caves and wells, and never tasted the water of the river whatever their need).

(From a grammatical work, which Diodorus also quotes)

14. (Kyrbasiê, the so-called tiara: Hecataeus says that the comic poets call it a 'barbarian cap').

Forged writings

15. (Titles given by Josephus: 'On the Jews' or 'On Abraham').

16. (Origen: A book on the Jews under the name of Hecataeus is in circulation, in which he insists so much on the wisdom of the race that Philo doubts if the treatise is by Hecataeus, or, if it is his, says that he must have been captivated by Jewish persuasiveness and have accepted their arguments).

17. (The references in Agatharchus the historian to Hecataeus of Abdera belong to Hecataeus of Miletus). 1


123:1 Müller, F.H.G. I., 14, 1, 13.

Next: 74. Apollodôrus of Cyzicus