How can it then be other than an absurd thing, for the Greeks to be so proud, and to vaunt themselves to be the only people that are acquainted with antiquity, and that have delivered the true accounts of those early times after an accurate manner? Nay, who is there that cannot easily gather from the Greek writers themselves, that they knew but little on any good foundation when they set to write, but rather wrote their histories from their own conjectures? Accordingly, they confute one another in their own books to purpose, and are not ashamed. to give us the most contradictory accounts of the same things; and I should spend my time to little purpose, if I should pretend to teach the Greeks that which they know better than I already, what a great disagreement there is between Hellanicus and Acusilaus about their genealogies; in how many eases Acusilaus corrects Hesiod: or after what manner Ephorus demonstrates Hellanicus to have told lies in the greatest part of his history; as does Timeus in like manner as to Ephorus, and the succeeding writers do to Timeus, and all the later writers do to Herodotus (3) nor could Timeus agree with Antiochus and Philistius, or with Callias, about the Sicilian History, no more than do the several writers of the Athide follow one another about the Athenian affairs; nor do the historians the like, that wrote the Argolics, about the affairs of the Argives. And now what need I say any more about particular cities and smaller places, while in the most approved writers of the expedition of the Persians, and of the actions which were therein performed, there are so great differences? Nay, Thucydides himself is accused of some as writing what is false, although he seems to have given us the exactest history of the affairs of his own time. (4)
(3) The preservation of Homer's Poems by memory, and not by his own writing them down, and that thence they were styled Rhapsodies, as sung by him, like ballads, by parts, and not composed and connected together in complete works, are opinions well known from the ancient commentators; though such supposal seems to myself, as well as to Fabricius Biblioth. Grace. I. p. 269, and to others, highly improbable. Nor does Josephus say there were no ancienter writings among the Greeks than Homer's Poems, but that they did not fully own any ancienter writings pretending to such antiquity, which is trite.
(4) It well deserves to be considered, that Josephus here says how all the following Greek historians looked on Herodotus as a fabulous author; and presently, sect. 14, how Manetho, the most authentic writer of the Egyptian history, greatly complains of his mistakes in the Egyptian affairs; as also that Strabo, B. XI. p. 507, the most accurate geographer and historian, esteemed him such; that Xenophon, the much more accurate historian in the affairs of Cyrus, implies that Herodotus's account of that great man is almost entirely romantic. See the notes on Antiq. B. XI. ch. 2. sect. 1, and Hutchinson's Prolegomena to his edition of Xenophon's, that we have already seen in the note on Antiq. B. VIII. ch. 10. sect. 3, how very little Herodotus knew about the Jewish affairs and country, and that he greatly affected what we call the marvelous, as Monsieur Rollin has lately and justly determined; whence we are not always to depend on the authority of Herodotus, where it is unsupported by other evidence, but ought to compare the other evidence with his, and if it preponderate, to prefer it before his. I do not mean by this that Herodotus willfully related what he believed to be false, (as Cteeias seems to have done,) but that he often wanted evidence, and sometimes preferred what was marvelous to what was best attested as really true.