Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM the OXFORD CLASSICAL DICTIONARY ( (c) Oxford University Press USA, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Personal use only; commercial use is strictly prohibited (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

Subscriber: null; date: 15 December 2018


Atthis was the title given in post-Alexandrian scholarship to the genre of Greek historiography that narrated the local history of Attica. The title, derived from the name of the daughter of the mythical king Cranaus (Strabo 9. 1. 8), was probably invented by Callimachus (3) for cataloguing purposes. The authors themselves used a variety of titles (Protogonia, Attika, Attikē Syngraphē) or none. The genre was probably created by Hellanicus (1) in the late 5th cent., though Pausanias (3) (10. 15. 5) credits Cleidemus. It was most popular in the 4th cent. when Atthides were written by Cleidemus, Androtion, Phanodemus, and perhaps Melanthius (3). Demon and Philochorus, the last and most respected atthidographer, wrote in the 3rd. Later Ister compiled an epitome of these Atthides.

In structure the Atthis was a chronicle, based upon a hypothetical list of kings (for the mythical period) and, after 683/2 bce, on the eponymous archons. In the case of the latter the entries began with the archon's name, followed by his patronymic or demotic, and then the formula, ‘in the time of this man such and such happened’. Within an entry, material was also organized chronologically, but the structure was not conducive to showing relationship between events or cause and effect. The subject-matter of an Atthis was typical of a local history, covering such diverse material as the origins of religious festivals and cults, etymology of place-names, geography, ethnography, and the creation of financial and political institutions. In short, the Atthis was a blend of mythical fantasy and accurate historical detail, the latter especially as the account came closer to the historian's own day. The style was ‘monotonous and hard for the reader to stomach’ (Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 1. 8. 3). The tone was patriotic, though more chauvinistic in some than others.

Serious study of the Atthis was begun by Wilamowitz in his investigation of the sources of the Athenian Constitution attributed to Aristotle (Aristoteles und Athen (1893)). Felix Jacoby elevated the Atthis into an independent genre of historiography. Even so, his theory that the individual atthidographers wrote to vindicate their own political ideology was an effort to explain the biases in the Athenian Constitution. Recently emphasis has been on the scholarly nature of atthidography.


Jacoby collected the fragments in Fragmente der griechischen Historiker 3b, with comm. in 3b Suppl. 1 and 2.Find this resource:

    F. Jacoby, Atthis (1949).Find this resource:

      P. Harding, Androtion and the Atthis (1994).Find this resource:

        P. Harding, The Story of Athens (2007).Find this resource:

          Do you have feedback?