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Dominique Lenfant

Dominique Lenfant. Les Histoires perses de Dinon et d'Héraclide

Book review by Rüdiger Schmitt
Bibliographical reference

Dominique Lenfant. Les Histoires perses de Dinon et d'Héraclide. Fragments édités, traduits et commentés par Dominique Lenfant, Paris, Éditions de Boccard, 2009, 373 p. (Persika, 13).

Full text

1The author published in 2004 a new edition, translation and commentary of the fragments of Persika and other writings by Ctesias of Cnidus. The present book presents her 2005 habilitation thesis on the scanty remnants of the works of Dinon of Colophon and Heracleides of Cyme (also entitled Persika) written in the 4th century BC, in other words during the last phase of the Achaemenid period. The introduction (p. 5-49) discusses the general problems related to Persika (which existed since the time of Dionysius of Miletus, Charon of Lampsacus and Hellanicus) and asks questions about what this genre of texts can contribute to research on the history of the Achaemenid Empire and about the method to be applied for this study. Though basing her work to a large extent on Felix Jacoby’s Fragmente der griechischen Historiker, Lenfant establishes a new version of the Greek text by recourse to the currently authoritative editions of the referenced texts of the authors (Plutarchus, Athenaeus, etc.) who have handed down passages from Dinon and Heracleides. For both Dinon and Heracleides, she introduces readers to their time, environment and works, and then presents the fragments themselves – p. 51-253 for Dinon, p. 255-314 for Heracleides – in the Greek original and in French translation. Lenfant adds a thorough commentary that places the texts in their context.

2Questions related to Iran (e.g., Iranian names in these fragments) are handled competently. As the bibliography (p. 325-346) shows, the author is well-acquainted with the relevant philological, historical, and linguistic literature. The book is easy to consult owing to the indexes (p. 347-362). Although these fragments reflect Greek stereotypes about the Persian Empire, these Persika books are important sources, sometimes providing variants to reports in other sources (e.g., Herodotus or Ctesias). Scholars studying Greek sources on the Achaemenid Empire will be detracting from their own merits, were they to overlook Lenfant’s current and previous work.

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Electronic reference

Rüdiger Schmitt. Dominique Lenfant, « Dominique Lenfant. Les Histoires perses de Dinon et d'Héraclide », Abstracta Iranica [Online], Volume 32-33 | 2013, document 94, Online since 01 July 2016, connection on 22 November 2019. URL :

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Tous droits réservés

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