Arrian of Nicomedia

Arrian of Nicomedia

Arrian of Nicomedia

Arrian of Nicomedia

Synopsis

A comprehensive picture of the life and work of a major figure among the Greek-speaking authors of the Roman Empire. Arrian is our most reliable source for Alexander the Great and the author of three other major historical works and a number of shorter essays and treatises. This, the first book-length study of Arrian in English in this century, makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of Greek historiography and of the intellectual life of the second century A.D.

Originally published in 1980.

Excerpt

Although Flavius Arrianus of Nicomedia is best known as the author of a history of Alexander the Great, that book was only one facet of an extraordinarily active life. In this book I have tried to present an overall picture of Arrian and his writings, viewing from several vantage points this man who was both typical of his age and one of its most interesting representatives. Despite the presence of such noteworthy figures as Hadrian and Marcus Aurelius, Galen and Plutarch, Lucian and Caracalla, the second century has not been studied with the care given the two centuries preceding it. A series of recent works on the larger intellectual movements of the century (one thinks of G. Bowersock Greek Sophists in the Roman Empire or B. Reardon Courants littéraires grecs des IIe et IIIe siècles après J.C.) has reawakened our curiosity toward this age, and a number of studies (among which should be noted especially those of A. B. Bosworth, who is also preparing a historical commentary to the Anabasis, of A. B. Breebaart, and ofG. Wirth) have begun to treat Arrian as more than a source for Alexander the Great. Finally, the discovery of several new inscriptions has forced us to reconsider his biography, placing a more proper emphasis on his activity as a Roman citizen and senator. Arrian, like Plutarch, his senior by forty years, proudly preserved his Greek heritage in a Roman world. Unlike Plutarch, however, and unlike most of the Greek authors of this period, Arrian took an active part in the administration of the empire. A Plutarch, a Dio Chrysostom, or an Aelius Aristides would carry a petition to the provincial governor, or serve as ambassador to the emperor, but Arrian was one of the few of Greek ancestry in this period who himself served as a governor of a province.

In the first chapter of this book, therefore, I have tried to set out a general outline of Arrian's life, with an emphasis on the evidence for his career in the service of the emperor. In succeeding chapters I

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