Before I start, I would just like to pray that I haven't got your point of view confused here again.
I am sorry that I misread your post. Seeing the phrases ‘miserable excuse for a civilisation’, ‘as you can tell I am a huge fan of Hellenistic culture! (Sarcasm detected)’ and "It seems quite common though for the ancient greeks to come up with strange ideas and pass them off with no thought of backing them up" sent me off on the wrong track. However I do still disagree with your newly explained viewpoint, if you are condemning the Greeks’ non-fictional writing. I shall continue to put forward my argument as to why Greek non-fictional literature is some of the finest ever composed:
You say that the Greeks rarely back up their strange ideas. I agree that Herodotus did this occasionally, but I think that you have over exaggerated his stupidity greatly. In his writings he often provides several versions of particular events and this helps readers to make up their own mind. He is without doubt the best source on the XXVI Dynasty and Egyptologists have uncovered evidence that suggests that most of his writings on the subject were in fact true. With regard to the Phoenix episode, I did find your anecdote about him taking studious notes quite funny, but Herodotus writes in book two: “I give this story as it was told to me…but I don’t believe it”.
It seems he wrote what he was told- not necessarily what he believed.
Herodotus was of course writing in the 5th century BC. Only a handful of other (Greek) historical writings survive from that period, and they are all exemplary. It was Thucydides (c. 460–c. 400) who first applied himself to a drawn out examination of the nature of political power, and researched the factors that determine the outcome of history. As a part of the board of generals he acquired inside knowledge of the way cultures are shaped.
After his failure to save Amphipolis, he spent 20 years in exile, which he used as an opportunity for getting at the truth from both sides (Hellenites and Persians). The result was a history of the war studying both military, political and economic decisions, and of the most penetrating quality. He appreciated the fact that he could not accept information at face value and so he spoke with hundreds of eyewitnesses and locals in an attempt to compile the true story of the war. His techniques are almost identical as those used by historians today.
Thucydides investigated the effect on individuals and nations both of psychological characteristics and of chance. His findings were interpreted through the many speeches given to his characters. The result of his many years of labouring was the masterpiece that is ‘The Peloponnesian War’.
It had been he who had continued the story of Greece’s battle with Persia after Herodotus’ death. Thucydides learned from the mistakes of that first historian and improved upon them. His son Xenophon in the same way continued in his father’s stead in 411, with his continuation of the story, Hellenica.
No other historical writings survive from this era, and yet the books of Histories, The Peloponnesian war and Hellenica give modern historians an unbroken, well-researched and dramatically written insight into the history of that early stage of Greek History and the formation of the Delian League.
Greek Philosophy, Rhetoric and Prose, irrelevant of its ocassional unreliability is without doubt some of the most excellent in existence. A culture of democracy provided (for perhaps the fist time in history) a great reason for politicians and writers to study in techniques of persuasion and influence. Demosthenes was without doubt the greatest of the Greek orators. His skills at public speaking and writing roused Athens to oppose Philip of Macedon and, later, his son Alexander the Great. His speeches provide invaluable information on the political, social, and economic life of 4th-century Athens.
I have only
written about the 4-5th centuries BC, despite the fact that Greek Literature increased steadily in quality for decades. Has this not shown you that Greek non-fictional literature (especially historical literature) is hugely exciting, interesting and useful to the modern historian?
Really I could go on ad-infinitum Si-Amun, but I won’t for all our sakes. If you genuinely do believe that all Greek non-fiction is rubbish then I would be interested in your opinion. I ask for it not because I want to laugh at it, but because you seem a very persuasive person, and I am open to new ideas.