Alexandria is the second-largest city of Egypt, with a population of 4.1 million, extending about along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in the north central part of the country; it is also the largest city lying directly on the Mediterranean coast. It is Egypt's largest seaport, serving...
was a Roman
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....
historian of Greek ethnicity who flourished during the reigns of Trajan
Trajan , was Roman Emperor from 98 to 117 AD. Born into a non-patrician family in the province of Hispania Baetica, in Spain Trajan rose to prominence during the reign of emperor Domitian. Serving as a legatus legionis in Hispania Tarraconensis, in Spain, in 89 Trajan supported the emperor against...
Hadrian , was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in...
, and Antoninus Pius
Antoninus Pius , also known as Antoninus, was Roman Emperor from 138 to 161. He was a member of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty and the Aurelii. He did not possess the sobriquet "Pius" until after his accession to the throne...
He was born ca. 95 in Alexandria. He tells us that, after having filled the chief offices in the province
In Ancient Rome, a province was the basic, and, until the Tetrarchy , largest territorial and administrative unit of the empire's territorial possessions outside of Italy...
of Egypt, he went to Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...
ca. 120, where he practised as an advocate
An advocate is a term for a professional lawyer used in several different legal systems. These include Scotland, South Africa, India, Scandinavian jurisdictions, Israel, and the British Crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man...
, pleading cases before the emperors
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...
. In 147 at the earliest he was appointed to the office of procurator
A procurator was the title of various officials of the Roman Empire, posts mostly filled by equites . A procurator Augusti was the governor of the smaller imperial provinces...
, probably in Egypt, on the recommendation of his friend Marcus Cornelius Fronto
Marcus Cornelius Fronto , Roman grammarian, rhetorician and advocate, was born at Cirta in Numidia. He also was suffect consul of 142.- Life :Fronto, who was born a Roman citizen c...
, a well-known litterateur. Because the position of procurator was open only to members of the equestrian
The Roman equestrian order constituted the lower of the two aristocratic classes of ancient Rome, ranking below the patricians , a hereditary caste that monopolised political power during the regal era and during the early Republic . A member of the equestrian order was known as an eques...
or "knightly" class, this office tells us about Appian's family background.
His principal surviving work (Ῥωμαϊκά, known in Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...
as Historia Romana
and in English
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...
as Roman History
) was written in Greek
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...
in 24 books, before 165. This work more closely resembles a series of monographs than a connected history. It gives an account of various peoples and countries from the earliest times down to their incorporation into the Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....
, and survives in complete books and considerable fragments. The work is very valuable, especially for the period of the civil wars.
The Civil Wars
, five of the later books in the corpus, concern mainly the end of the Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...
and take a conflict-based approach to history.
Little is known of the life of Appian of Alexandria. He wrote an autobiography that has been almost completely lost. Information about Appian is distilled from his own writings and a letter by his friend Cornelius Fronto. However, it is certain that Appian was born ca. 95 in Alexandria, the capital of Roman Egypt. Since his parents were Roman citizens capable of paying for their son’s education, it can be determined that Appian belonged to the wealthy upper classes.
It is believed that Appian moved in 120 to Rome, where he became a barrister. In the introduction to his Roman History,
he boasts “that he pleaded cases in Rome before the emperors.” The emperors he claims to have addressed must have been either Hadrian or Marcus Aurelius and definitely Antoninus Pius, for Appian remained in Egypt at least until the end of the reign of Trajan (117 C.E.). In the letter of Cornelius Fronto, it is revealed that a request on behalf of Appian to receive the rank of procurator occurred during the coregency, i.e., between 147 and 161. Although Appian won this office, it is unclear whether it was a real job or an honorific title. The only other certain biographical datum is that Appian's Roman History
appeared sometime before 162. This is one of the few primary historical sources for the period.
Appian began writing his history around the middle of the second century AD. Only sections from half of the original 24 books survive today. The most important remnants of Appian's work are the five books on the Civil Wars,
also known as books 13-17 of the Roman History.
These five books stand out because they are the only comprehensive, meticulous source available on an extremely significant historical period, during which Roman politics were in turmoil because of factional strife.
Especially notable is this work's ethnographic structure. Appian most likely used this structure to facilitate his readers' orientation through the sequence of events, which occur in different places and are united only by their relationship to Rome. A literary example of this can be found from Appian’s The Civil Wars (part 5 of 17). It states, “And now civil discord broke out again worse than ever and increased enormously…..So in the course of events in the Roman empire was partitioned….by these three men: Antony, Lepidus, and the one who was first called Octavius….Shortly after this division they fell to quarrelling among themselves…Octavius …first deprived Lepidus of Africa…and afterward, as the result of the battle of Actium, took from Antony all the provinces lying between Syria and the Adriatic gulf." One might expect that a historical work covering nine centuries and countless different peoples would involve a multitude of testimonials from different periods. However, Appian's sources remain uncertain, as he only mentions the source of his information under special circumstances. He may have relied primarily on one author for each book, whom he did not follow uncritically, since Appian also used additional sources for precision and correction. At our present state of knowledge questions regarding Appian’s sources cannot be solved.
- Editio princeps
In classical scholarship, editio princeps is a term of art. It means, roughly, the first printed edition of a work that previously had existed only in manuscripts, which could be circulated only after being copied by hand....
Johann Schweighäuser , was a German classical scholar.-Biography:He was born at Strasbourg. From an early age his favourite subjects were philosophy and Oriental languages; Greek and Latin he took up later, and although he owes his reputation to his...
August Immanuel Bekker was a German philologist and critic.-Biography:Born in Berlin, Bekker completed his classical education at the University of Halle under Friedrich August Wolf, who considered him as his most promising pupil. In 1810 he was appointed professor of philosophy in the University...
- Ludwig Mendelssohn, 1878–1905, Appiani Historia Romana, Bibliotheca Teubneriana
The Bibliotheca Teubneriana, or Teubner editions of Greek and Latin texts, comprise the most thorough modern collection ever published of ancient Greco-Roman literature...
- Paul Goukowsky, 1997-, Appien. Histoire romaine (Greek text, French translation, notes), Collection Budé
The Collection Budé, or the Collection des Universités de France, is a series of books comprising the Greek and Latin classics up to the middle of the 6th century...
- Carsana, Chiara (ed.). Commento storico al libro II delle Guerre Civili di Appiano (parte I). Pisa: Edizioni ETS, 2007. 309 pp. (Pubblicazioni della Facoltà di Lettere e Filosofia dell'Università di Pavia, 116).
- W. B., 1578 (black letter) - possibly William Barker
-Life:Barker was born before 1522 and educated in the University of Cambridge at the cost of Queen Anne Boleyn, the second wife of Henry VIII of England. He appears to have commenced M.A. in 1540 and to have been a member either of Christ's College or of St. John's College.After some years spent...
- used by Shakespeare
- J. D[avies], 1679
- Horace White
Horace White was an United States journalist and financial expert, noted for his connection with the Chicago Tribune, the New York Evening Post and The Nation.-Biography:...
, 1899 (Bohn's Classical Library);
- Book I edited by James Leigh Strachan-Davidson
James Leigh Strachan-Davidson was an English classical scholar, born at Penrith, Cumbria, northern England.Strachan-Davidson was educated at Leamington College and at Balliol College, Oxford, and from 1907 was Master of Balliol. He received the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the...
- Books XIII-XVII (Civil Wars), trans. John Carter, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1996
- Appian's Foreign Wars at Livius.org
- Appian's Civil Wars at LacusCurtius
LacusCurtius is a website specializing in ancient Rome, currently hosted on a server at the University of Chicago. It went online on August 26, 1997; in January 2008 it had "2786 pages, 690 photos, 675 drawings & engravings, 118 plans, 66 maps." The site is the...
- Works by Appian at the Internet Archive
- http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2011/2011-06-51.html Review of Paul Gourkowsky and Phillippe Torrens, eds., Appien: Histoire romaine. Tome X, livre XV: Guerres civiles, livre III in Bryn Mawr Classical Review.