Diodorus Siculus (/ /; Greek: Διόδωρος Σικελιώτης Diodoros Sikeliotes) or Diodorus of Sicily was a Greek historian. He is known for writing the monumental universal history Bibliotheca historica, much of which survives, between 60 and 30 BC. It is arranged in three parts. The first covers mythic history up to the destruction of Troy, arranged geographically, describing regions around the world from Egypt, India and Arabia to Greece and Europe. The second covers the Trojan War to the death of Alexander the Great. The third covers the period to about 60BC. The title Bibliotheca, meaning 'library', acknowledges that he was drawing on the work of many other authors.
According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily (now called Agira). With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work. Only Jerome, in his Chronicon under the "year of Abraham 1968" (i.e., 49 BC), writes, "Diodorus of Sicily, a writer of Greek history, became illustrious". However, his English translator, Charles Henry Oldfather, remarks on the "striking coincidence" that one of only two known Greek inscriptions from Agyrium (I.G. XIV, 588) is the tombstone of one "Diodorus, the son of Apollonius".
Diodorus' universal history, which he named Bibliotheca historica (Greek: Ἱστορικὴ Βιβλιοθήκη, "Historical Library"), was immense and consisted of 40 books, of which 1–5 and 11–20 survive: fragments of the lost books are preserved in Photius and the excerpts of Constantine Porphyrogenitus.
It was divided into three sections. The first six books treated the mythic history of the non-Hellenic and Hellenic tribes to the destruction of Troy and are geographical in theme, and describe the history and culture of Ancient Egypt (book I), of Mesopotamia, India, Scythia, and Arabia (II), of North Africa (III), and of Greece and Europe (IV–VI).
In the next section (books VII–XVII), he recounts the history of the world from the Trojan War down to the death of Alexander the Great. The last section (books XVII to the end) concerns the historical events from the successors of Alexander down to either 60 BC or the beginning of Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars. (The end has been lost, so it is unclear whether Diodorus reached the beginning of the Gallic War as he promised at the beginning of his work or, as evidence suggests, old and tired from his labours he stopped short at 60 BC.) He selected the name "Bibliotheca" in acknowledgment that he was assembling a composite work from many sources. Identified authors on whose works he drew include Hecataeus of Abdera, Ctesias of Cnidus, Ephorus, Theopompus, Hieronymus of Cardia, Duris of Samos, Diyllus, Philistus, Timaeus, Polybius, and Posidonius.
He also gave an account of the Celts: "Physically the Celts are terrifying in appearance with deep-sounding and very harsh voices. In conversation they use few words and speak in riddles, for the most part hinting at things and leaving a great deal to be understood. They frequently exaggerate with the aim of extolling themselves and diminishing the status of others. They are boasters and threateners, and given to bombastic self-dramatization, and yet they are quick of mind and with good natural ability for learning." (Book 5)
- Diod. History 1.4.4.
- Diodorus of Sicily In Twelve Volumes by Charles Henry Oldfather (1977), Introduction.
- Ctesias' Persian History: Introduction, text, and translation by Ctesias by Jan P. Stronk (2010), p. 60.
- "Diodorus Siculus" entry in the Encyclopaedia Britannica.
- Ambaglio, Dino, Franca Landucci Gattinoni and Luigi Bravi. Diodoro Siculo: Biblioteca storica: commento storico: introduzione generale. Storia. Ricerche. Milano: V&P, 2008. x, 145 p.
- Buckley, Terry (1996). Aspects of Greek History 750-323 BC: A Source-based Approach. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-09958-7.
- Lloyd, Alan B. (1975). Herodotus, Book II. Leiden: Brill. pp. Introduction. ISBN 90-04-04179-6.
- Siculus, Diodorus; Oldfather, C. H. (Translator) (1935). Library of History: Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press.
- Siculus, Diodorus; G. Booth (Translator); H. Valesius; I. Rhodomannus; F. Ursinus (1814). The Historical Library of Diodorus the Sicilian in Fifteen Books to which are added the Fragments of Diodorus. London: J. Davis. Downloadable via Google Books.
- Siculi, Diodori; Peter Wesseling (Editor); L. Rhodoman; G. Heyn; N. Eyring (1798). Bibliothecae Historicae Libri Qui Supersunt: Nova Editio (in Ancient Greek and Latin). Argentorati: Societas Bipontina. Downloadable via Google Books.
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- Lendering, Jona (1996–2008). "Diodorus of Sicily". Livius Articles on Ancient History. Retrieved 2008-10-08.
- Pearse, Roger (2007). "Diodorus Siculus: the manuscripts of the 'Bibliotheca Historica". Retrieved 2008-10-08.
- Siculus, Diodorus; C.H. Oldfather (Translator). "Library". Perseus Digital Library. pp. Books 9‑17 only. Retrieved 2008-10-08.
- Siculus, Diodorus; C.H. Oldfather (Translator). "Library". Theoi E-Texts Library. pp. Books 4‑6 only. Retrieved 2008-10-08.
- Siculus, Diodorus. "Library" (in Ancient Greek). Perseus Digital Library. pp. Books 9‑17 only. Retrieved 2008-10-08.
- Siculus, Diodorus. "Library". Perseus Digital Library. pp. Books 9‑17 only. Retrieved 2008-10-08.
- "The Library of History". LacusCurtius. pp. Books 1‑32 only. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
- "Historical Library". Attalus.org. pp. Books 33‑40 only. Retrieved 2014-02-07.
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