This dissertation is a detailed study of the first book of the Bibliotheke of Diodorus Siculus, a Greek historian from the mid-first century BCE. Traditionally, scholars have studied Diodorus with the purpose of identifying and reconstructing the now-lost histories that he used as sources. This source-study, or Quellenforschung, ignores and even denigrates Diodorus' own contributions to his history. In contrast, a fresh examination of Diodorus' first book shows that he was an innovative historian who desired to find a place in the intellectual world of Rome with his work.
Chapter 1 examines the scholarship of Quellenforschung and demonstrates that for Book 1, it is of very little value for Diodorus or his putative sources. More recent approaches to Diodorus and other historians who are largely dependent on earlier material or who were provincial intellectuals during the Roman civil wars are more valuable aids to interpreting the Bibliotheke.
Chapter 2 addresses Diodorus' overall contribution to Greek historiography, with a particular emphasis on Book 1. The chapter reveals Diodorus' important innovation in his definition of universal history to be universal on both temporal and spatial planes; and in his argument for myth as a legitimate matter for a history.
Chapter 3 examines Diodorus' account in Book 1 of the origins of civilization and the progress of mankind, a Kulturgeschichte. Diodorus sets up two paths by which mankind can advance, under the compulsion of χρϵ[special characters omitted]α (1.8), and under a culture-bringer. (1.13-22) The chapter argues that Diodorus' reworking of source material can be clearly seen and that this process is consistent with his thinking elsewhere in both Book 1 and in the rest of the Bibliotheke.
Chapter 4 investigates Diodorus' narrative of Egyptian history (1.44-68). In his presentation of certain Egyptian kings Diodorus highlights what he considers to be major problems in the Romans' rule of the Mediterranean. These include Rome's failure to rule the provinces beneficently, and a decline in Roman morality. But Diodorus also evinces an undercurrent of support for Julius Caesar. One significant passage appears to reference Caesar's new calendar, and thus can be dated to after 47.
Chapter 5 scrutinizes Diodorus' lengthy section on Egyptian laws and customs (1.69-95). Diodorus continues to use Egypt as a means of highlighting weaknesses in first-century Rome, expanding on those he highlighted in the historical section to include the Roman legal system. Diodorus uses the example of the extremely long-lasting Egyptian nation to demonstrate the superiority of monarchy as a system of government.
Chapter 6, the conclusion, reviews the circumstances surrounding the publication of the Bibliotheke. In light of the other findings, we argue that Diodorus was on the verge of publishing the first three books when Caesar was assassinated, so the historian postponed publication. The rise of Octavian, and his propaganda war with Mark Antony, caused Diodorus to further delay publication, not just of the first three books but of the whole Bibliotheke, and the historian probably died with his history unpublished.
This dissertation contributes to an understanding of Diodorus, one of the first and most determined universal historians, and the opportunities available to provincial intellectuals in the Roman world.