Clio's Other Sons
Berossus and Manetho
A discussion of the first written histories of Babylon and Egypt
Soon after the death of Alexander the Great, the priest Berossus wrote the first known narrative and comprehensive history of his native Babylon, and the priest Manetho likewise wrote the first such history of his native Egyptian civilization. Nothing like these histories had been produced before in these cultures. Clio’s Other Sons considers why that is: why were these histories written at this point, and for what purposes?
Berossus and Manetho operated at the crossings of several political, social, and intellectual worlds. They were members of native elites under the domination of Macedonian overlords; in their writings we can see suggestions that they collaborated in the foreign rule of their lands, but at the same time we see them advocating for their cultures. Their histories were written in Greek and betray active engagement with Greek historical writing, but at the same time these texts are clearly composed from native records, are organized along lines determined by local systems of time-reckoning, and articulate views that are deeply informed by regional scholarly and wisdom traditions. In this volume John Dillery charts the interactions of all these features of these historians. An afterword considers Demetrius, the approximate contemporary of Berossus and Manetho in time, if not in culture. While his associates wrote new histories, Demetrius’ project was a rewriting of an existing text, the Bible. This historiographical “corrective” approach sheds light on the novel historiography of Manetho and Berossus.
“Clio’s Other Sons will be required reading for scholars of Hellenistic history and the history of Egypt and the Near East.”
—Andrew Erskine, University of Edinburgh
Praise / Awards
"[Dillery's] book is clear and accessible, almost colloquial in style; its many footnotes attest to the author's wide scholarship; and the bibliography surveys well the whole of Hellenic and Hellenistic cultural history."
R.I. Frank, Choice
"This study not only enriches our appreciation of Hellenistic historiography, but provides a model for approaching the intersections of native and hegemonic worldviews."
"Clio’s Other Sons is excellent. It is an immensely stimulating book that will foster much future research on Berossus and Manetho."
--Bryn Mawr Classical Review
"Clio’s Other Sons is a remarkable contribution to the study of the Hellenistic intellectual world and the interface between Greek and Near Eastern cultures at the crossroads of a new era."
- “Dillery’s thought-provoking monograph represents a significant addition to Hellenistic history and the study of connections between the Greek world and Near East … [it] sets the study of both Berossus and Manetho on a new footing…”
-- Journal of Hellenic Studies
"John Dillery's comprehensive and absorbing study discusses two of the most intriguing figures of the Hellenistic era."
--The Weekly Standard
"Long and complex in arguments and details, Clio’s Other Sons is well worth the time it takes to read and it sets a higher standard for those engaged in writing about the Hellenistic world of non-Greeks."
Runciman Award, First Runner Up, 2016
“John Dillery’s Clio’s Other Sons is beautifully written, could not do more to make some very difficult questions clear, and deserves a wide readership.”
--Professor Tom Harrison, Chair, Runciman Award Committee
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