As for the occasions of so great disagreement of theirs, there may be assigned many that are very probable, if any have a mind to make an inquiry about them; but I ascribe these contradictions chiefly to two causes, which I will now mention, and still think what I shall mention in the first place to be the principal of all. For if we remember that in the beginning the Greeks had taken no care to have public records of their several transactions preserved, this must for certain have afforded those that would afterward write about those ancient transactions the opportunity of making mistakes, and the power of making lies also; for this original recording of such ancient transactions hath not only been neglected by the other states of Greece, but even among the Athenians themselves also, who pretend to be Aborigines, and to have applied themselves to learning, there are no such records extant; nay, they say themselves that the laws of Draco concerning murders, which are now extant in writing, are the most ancient of their public records; which Draco yet lived but a little before the tyrant Pisistratus. (5) For as to the Arcadians, who make such boasts of their antiquity, what need I speak of them in particular, since it was still later before they got their letters, and learned them, and that with difficulty also. (6)
(6) It is here well worth our observation, what the reasons are that such ancient authors as Herodotus, Josephus, and others have been read to so little purpose by many learned critics; viz. that their main aim has not been chronology or history, but philology, to know words, and not things, they not much entering oftentimes into the real contents of their authors, and judging which were the most accurate discoverers of truth, and most to be depended on in the several histories, but rather inquiring who wrote the finest style, and had the greatest elegance in their expressions; which are things of small consequence in comparison of the other. Thus you will sometimes find great debates among the learned, whether Herodotus or Thucydides were the finest historian in the Ionic and Attic ways of writing; which signify little as to the real value of each of their histories; while it would be of much more moment to let the reader know, that as the consequence of Herodotus's history, which begins so much earlier, and reaches so much wider, than that of Thucydides, is therefore vastly greater; so is the most part of Thucydides, which belongs to his own times, and fell under his own observation, much the most certain.