Years ago, I was moved in Azpeitia for work issues and although the town and its surroundings are beautiful, is a small place , which means that you end to know it soon, just was not a good plan grabbing a binge every evening in some bar , which was becoming usual , so I decided to expand a bit my knowledge of ancient history. I had read not long before the thrilling ” Gods,graves and scholars ” by W.C. Ceram , a book that it had left so good taste that I wanted to persevere in reading about the antiquities of men. I was looking for something less divulgative, but there was plenty to look, so I decided on the “History” of Herodotus , it was something encyclopedic , broad and diverse . I acquired the nine books in five volumes gradually of course , volume by volume , because neither were all of them in this small but well-stocked bookstore, nor were cheap ( not expensive if you bought every month ) , and it has undoubtedly been a purchase or acquisition of which I have never regretted.
Actually in fact I was a regular reader of novels, Isaac Asimov , Julio Cortazar , of course Borges tales … The novel is a genre except rare exceptions ( “The Pillars of the Earth” , ” Zigzag ” )of what can be said that I almost completely abandoned since that time. I had read some of the classics before , the Iliad , the Odyssey , the Aeneid …. but vulgar editions were quite cryptic and difficult for a layman , so when I discovered the critical editions , packed with comments and disclosures , I felt that the ancient world was revealed before my eyes like never before and that fact did put to the Gredos publishing house, in my scale of values, in the highest esteem . Unfortunately this assessment level has dropped sharply since recently , when I started with Diodorus of Sicily and its historic library .
Read Diodorus is not as reading Herodotus , though about the opus of the latter there were versions , discrepancies between translators exist , there are possibly added paragraphs, etc. . , Gives the impression that has come down to us pretty complete , unlike the opus of Diodorus , whose work despite the accumulated prestige in Latin era and during the Renaissance , although its success and the successive editions of continuous use for centuries , today is a patchwork , incomplete, probably by excessive ambition of its author . On the other hand since more than century, as the true author that he was , Herodotus for his spirit of adventure and certainly its antiquity , he has revalued a lot while Diodorus it could be said that he has finally been put in the proper place , as real bookworm that he was, in the best sense of the term .
In Diodorus there are very interesting data, as the reference to the inscription of Behistun , thanks to which , once found in the nineteenth century ,could be deciphered the cuneiform writing . Diodorus also well illustrated Greek Stoic thought suspiciously similar to Christian morality , fifty years before the birth of Christ and mainly reflected a sharp evemerism, a line of thought detested by the Greeks due to treating the gods as humans, which however, was very successful in the Roman world . However Diodorus apparently is very negligent ,is fond ta promise clarifications or additional data that in some cases will never happen, while Herodotus has no qualms about opening an excursus or digression when it thinks fit instead of postponing information . The really disappointing when I read Diodorus , I suspect that is not the fault of the author, or perhaps if , I am not an expert , as I say how disappointing is to find a bad translation , or perhaps better said a dreadful editing or writing of translation, so strange and archaic (eg medieval turns are used as ” to his around ” instead of ” around him ” or “around “(*) , so much so that Herodotus , four hundred years older than him , however uses a language much more clear and on going) , which sometimes makes truly incomprehensible the text or requires carefully read it several times , for example:
” It also contributes her ( the story) by force of reason, which more beautiful than anyone could easily find something else. ” ( ? ) ( In the explanatory notes to footer explains that from the praise of the story is passed to that of the reason, of the word, the logos. )
What it has no apology is the huge number of typographical errors , a real blast , and even spelling mistakes ( such ” harmonia ” instead of ” armonia ” )(*) which added to the other problems become an authentic nonsense ( as a sample, a button:
denominaqcion , I,24,4
se creer, I,28,1
de de, I,29,3
creen de haber, I,31,4
territorio que es inaccesible el territorio, I,32,1
se acercaron mímamente, I,37,4
poseen de desembocaduras, I,38,3
resumen la la forma, I, 42,2
durnate poco, I,44,1 ).
In short , Diodorus may not be as interesting as Herodotus , but at least deserves some respect and readers even more.
(*) I do not know how to find an equivalent expression in English. Sorry