Philochorus Analysis

Life

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Few details are known about Philochorus’s (feh-LAHK-uh-ruhs) life. He was a seer and prophet who interpreted omens for the Athenian state, but his historical significance derives from his work as a scholar. He was the author of twenty-seven works, most of them concerned with Athens and dealing with religious topics. However, he also wrote on chronology, Athenian inscriptions, and tragedy. His most famous work was his Atthis (n.d.; English translation of more than 170 fragments, 1949), a history of Athens from mythical times through the early third century b.c.e. Philochorus used earlier histories of Athens to write the Atthis, but he also conducted research into myths, poetry, and documents for further information.

Philochorus was put to death by Antigonus II Gonatas, king of Macedonia, some time in 260’s, because of his support of Ptolemy II Philadelphus, a king of Egypt who was then aiding Athens in its attempts to free itself from Macedonian control.

Influence

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Although all of his works are now lost, Philochorus was extremely influential in antiquity. His Atthis became the standard history of Athens and was frequently cited by other ancient authors, and Christian writers often referred to Philochorus’s religious works for his discussion of pagan beliefs and practices.

Additional Resources

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Habicht, Christian. Athens from Alexander to Antony. Translated by Deborah Lucas Schneider. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997.

Harding, Phillip. Androtion and the Atthis. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1994.