The Legend of Cadmus and the Logographi.—II
Journal of Hellenic Studies
Thus far I have tried to show that the fully developed legend of Cadmus the Phoenician does not appear before the fifth century. This of course leads to no certain conclusion. Apart from the possibility (which I think an unlikely one) that the fragmentary state of our knowledge of the earlier writers forbids our coming to any conclusion, however tentative, on a subject like the present, it is still possible that the fifth century writers represent an older and better tradition than the poets
... ore them. There is no more unproductive idea than that which assumes that every story bears the date of the writer who preserves it. We find Pausanias especially citing legends which are manifestly older and truer than many told by earlier writers, and Asius the Samian—to take a parallel case—giving a better version of a Boeotian myth than the local Pindar. But if it can be shown that writers of the fifth century, Herodotus and the logographi, were less interested in local tradition than in learned theory, especially when the latter was based on researches in foreign countries, we do then get some probability for the view that a statement found in them, but in no earlier writer, may be theory and not tradition. To do this we must get some idea of their methods.