If an historian actually observed the event on which he was writing, or relevant details, he would often proudly boast of it right within the text itself.
• Dio Chrysostom (40-115 AD): "I shall now relate a personal experience of mine; not merely something I have heard from others.” [Discourses 7:1]
• Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD): “and as for the History of the War, I wrote it as having been an actor myself in many of its transactions, an eyewitness in the greatest part of the rest, and was not unacquainted with any thing whatsoever that was either said or done in it.” [Against Apion 1.50-55]
• Thucydides (460-400 BC): “Of the events of the war I have not ventured to speak from any chance information, nor according to any notion of my own; I have described nothing but what I either saw myself, or learned from others of whom I made the most careful and particular enquiry.” [History of the Peloponnesian War 1.22.2]1
• They may super-boast if they saw it all “from the beginning.”
Historical works from the Greco-Roman mediterranean proudly self-identity as relaying witness testimony.
• Polybius etc. testify that they did.
• Historians oft say: “I saw this all 1st hand.”
• Histories cited witnesses via emphasis.
• Histories DID get witness-testimony or close.
But as a counter-evidence:
• Historians didn’t even strive to produce a witness-based history. (See discussion in page link above.)
Greco-Roman historiographers tended to lambast the use of hearsay in their reports (especially when witnesses were available).
• Historians: “ONLY share/relay 1st hand info.”
• Historians say hearsay is a last resort.
• That’s wrapped into the definition of historia” (ἱστορία).
Historians usually stuck to writing in the witness-age.
• Historians labored to produce direct witness-based history.
But, as a counter-evidence…
• Historians did not even regard witness-grounding as valuable (See discussion in page link above.)
Ideal Greco-Roman historiographers worked hard to relay honest witness testimony, and in their eyes: the more direct/1st hand the testimony was, the better it was.
• Histories DID get witness approval and/or close.
• Historians oft say “witness testimony only!”
• Lying historiographers pretended to be or use witnesses. • Ancients prize testimony being 1st hand as possible.
• Greco-Roman histories self-claim to be true.
• Ancients strove to echo “from beginning” witnesses.
But as 2 counter-evidences…
• Greco-Romans didn’t care if testimony was 1st or 9th hand. (See page link above.)
• Historians didn’t even work to investigate. (Again, see link above.)
Greco-Roman inquirers about the past place great value the source's being directly witness-based, or close enough.
• Ancients were oft critical thinkers.
• Polybius etc. say “all agree” 1st hand is best.
• Most inquiry in the past valued witness-testimony.
• Ancients oft said “seeing beats hearing.” • E.g. Historians oft felt 2nd-3rd hand etc. is unacceptable.
On the other hand, this counterevidence is also analyzed:
• They didn't even prize witness testimony.