Address to the Greeks

Chapter 31

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Tatian (110-172)

Address to the Greeks

Translated by J. E. Ryland

Chapter 31

But now it seems proper for me to demonstrate that our philosophy is older than the systems of the Greeks. Moses and Homer shall be our limits, each of them being of great antiquity; the one being the oldest of poets and historians, and the other the founder of all barbarian wisdom. Let us, then, institute a comparison between them; and we shall find that our doctrines are older, not only than those of the Greeks, but than the invention of letters. And I will not bring forward witnesses from among ourselves, but rather have recourse to Greeks. To do the former would be foolish, because it would not be allowed by you; but the other will surprise you, when, by contending against you with your own weapons, I adduce arguments of which you had no suspicion. Now the poetry of Homer, his parentage, and the time in which he flourished have been investigated by the most ancient writers,—by Theagenes of Rhegium, who lived in the time of Cambyses, Stesimbrotus of Thasos and Antimachus of Colophon, Herodotus of Halicarnassus, and Dionysius the Olynthian; after them, by Ephorus of Cumæ, and Philochorus the Athenian, Megaclides and Chamæleon the Peripatetics; afterwards by the grammarians, Zenodotus, Aristophanes, Callimachus, Crates, Eratosthenes, Aristarchus, and Apollodorus. Of these, Crates says that he flourished before the return of the Heraclidæ, and within 80 years after the Trojan war; Eratosthenes says that it was after the 100th year from the taking of Ilium; Aristarchus, that it was about the time of the Ionian migration, which was 140 years after that event; but, according to Philochorus, after the Ionian migration, in the archonship of Archippus at Athens, 180 years after the Trojan war; Apollodorus says it was 100 years after the Ionian migration, which would be 240 years after the Trojan war. Some say that he lived 90 years before the Olympiads, which would be 317 years after the taking of Troy. Others carry it down to a later date, and say that Homer was a contemporary of Archilochus; but Archilochus flourished about the 23d Olympiad, in the time of Gyges the Lydian, 500 years after Troy. Thus, concerning the age of the aforesaid poet, I mean Homer, and the discrepancies of those who have spoken of him, we have said enough in a summary manner for those who are able to investigate with accuracy. For it is possible to show that the opinions held about the facts themselves also are false. For, where the assigned dates do not agree together, it is impossible that the history should be true. For what is the cause of error in writing, but the narrating of things that are not true?

Chapter 30

Chapter 32