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Semiramis' Legacy

The History of Persia According to Diodorus of Sicily

Jan P. Stronk

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Presents and contextualises extracts from the Historical Library of Diodorus

There are only a few detailed histories of Persia from Ancient Greek historiography that have survived time. Diodorus of Sicily, a first century BC author, is the only one to have written a comprehensive history (the Bibliotheca Historica or Historical Library) in which more than cursory attention is paid to Persia. The Bibliotheca Historica covers the entire period from Persia’s prehistory until the arrival of the Parthians from the East and that of Roman power throughout Asia Minor and beyond from the West, around 750 years after Assyrian rule ended.

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List of Figures and Tables
Series Editor’s Preface
Introduction: Diodorus’ Work and Our Sources
A. Introduction
B. Diodorus’ life
C. The Bιβλιοθήκη ἱστορική (‘Historical Library’)
D. Diodorus’ method
E. Diodorus’ views
F. The structure of the Bibliotheca
G. Final observations
H. Summary
I. Our primary sources for Diodorus: manuscripts and relevant editions
Manuscripts of books 1-5
Manuscripts of books 11-20
The Excerpta Constantiniana
Manuscripts of the Excerpta Constantiniana
Photius’ Bibliotheca
Manuscripts of Photius’ Bibliotheca
Some editions of Diodorus’ Bibliotheca
1 Diodorus’ Sources
A. Preliminary remarks
B. Books 1-5
C. Fragments books 6-10
D. Books 11-20
E. Fragments books 21-32
F. Fragments books 33-40
G. Diodorus and his source-authors
H. Diodorus’ use of his sources
2 Ancient History: Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Medes
A. The Assyrian History
B. The Chaldean History
C. The Median History
3 The Persians and the Greek Wars
A. The Arians and general customs of the Persians
B. Cyrus the Great (c. 576/5-530)
C. Cambyses II (?–523/2)
D. Darius the Great (c. 550-486)
E. Xerxes I (c. 519-465)
4 Revolt and Sedition
A. Artaxerxes I (?–424)
B. Xerxes II (?–423)
C. Sogdianus (?–423)
D. Darius II (?–404)
E. Artaxerxes II Mnemon (c. 436-358)
F. Artaxerxes III Ochus (425-338)
5 Alexander the Great Defeats Darius III
A. Darius III Codomannus (c. 380-330)
B. Alexander’s expedition up to the end of the Battle of Issus
C. From Issus to Gaugamela
D. From Gaugamela to Persepolis
6 From Persepolis to Babylon
A. Alexander pursues Bessus
B. Alexander’s Indian adventure
C. The final phase of the expedition
7 The Period of the Diadochs: The Rift Opens
The years 323/2-318/17
8 The Period of the Diadochs: The Rift Deepens
The years 317/16-311/10
9 The Vicissitudes of the Diadoch Kingdoms: The Final Years of Diodorus’ Persian Account
A. The years 311/10-260/79
B. The years after 280
10 Semiramis’ Legacy
Index of Classical Sources
Index of Modern Authors
General Index

About the Author

Jan Stronk is Research Associate in the Department of Ancient History at the University of Amsterdam. He is the author of The Ten Thousand in Thrace: An Archaeological and Historical Commentary on Xenophon’s Anabasis, Books VI.iii-vi – VII (1995), Ctesias’ Persian History, Part I: Introduction, Text and Translation (2010) and Ctesias’ Persian History, Part 2: Historical Commentary and Conclusions (forthcoming).


‘This much-needed and timely work is a model of its kind and a testament to the author’s massive erudition and good judgement.’


- John Dillery, Professor of Classics, University of Virginia

Anyone who deals with the Greco-Iranian East since the later Achaemenids (amongst whom the reviewer counts himself) will find a work by Jan P. Stronk that brings together almost all the testimonies handed down by Diodorus and presents them as appealingly as knowledgeably. It is highly valuable for the future research in this field.

- Martin Schottky, Anabasis

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