Arrian

Arrian

Overview
Lucius Flavius Arrianus 'Xenophon' (ca. AD 86 - 160), known in English as Arrian (Ἀρριανός), and Arrian of Nicomedia
Nicomedia
Nicomedia was an ancient city in what is now Turkey, founded in 712/11 BC as a Megarian colony and was originally known as Astacus . After being destroyed by Lysimachus, it was rebuilt by Nicomedes I of Bithynia in 264 BC under the name of Nicomedia, and has ever since been one of the most...

, was a Roman
Ancient Rome
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....

 (ethnic Greek) historian, public servant, a military commander and a philosopher of the 2nd-century Roman
Roman and Byzantine Greece
The history of Byzantine Greece mainly coincides with the rise and fall of the Byzantine Empire.-Roman Greece:The Greek peninsula became a Roman protectorate in 146 BC, and the Aegean islands were added to this territory in 133. Athens and other Greek cities revolted in 88, and the peninsula was...

 period. As with other authors of the Second Sophistic
Second Sophistic
The Second Sophistic is a literary-historical term referring to the Greek writers who flourished from the reign of Nero until c. 230 AD and who were catalogued and celebrated by Philostratus in his Lives of the Sophists...

, Arrian wrote primarily in Attic (Indica
Indica (Arrian)
Indica is the name of an ancient book about India written by Arrian, one of the main ancient historians of Alexander the Great. The book mainly tells the story of Alexander's officer Nearchus’ voyage from India to the Persian Gulf after Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Indus Valley...

 is in Herodotus' Ionic
Ionic Greek
Ionic Greek was a subdialect of the Attic–Ionic dialect group of Ancient Greek .-History:Ionic dialect appears to have spread originally from the Greek mainland across the Aegean at the time of the Dorian invasions, around the 11th Century B.C.By the end of the Greek Dark Ages in the 5th Century...

 dialect, his philosophical works in Koine Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

) .

Anabasis of Alexander
Anabasis Alexandri
Anabasis Alexandri , the Campaigns of Alexander by Arrian, is the most important source on Alexander the Great.The Greek term anabasis referred to an expedition from a coastline into the interior of a country. The term katabasis referred to a trip from the interior to the coast...

is perhaps his best known work and is generally considered one of the best sources on the campaigns of Alexander the Great, not to be confused with Anabasis
Anabasis (Xenophon)
Anabasis is the most famous work, in seven books, of the Greek professional soldier and writer Xenophon. The journey it narrates is his best known accomplishment and "one of the great adventures in human history," as Will Durant expressed the common assessment.- The account :Xenophon accompanied...

, then best-known work of the Athenian military leader and author Xenophon
Xenophon
Xenophon , son of Gryllus, of the deme Erchia of Athens, also known as Xenophon of Athens, was a Greek historian, soldier, mercenary, philosopher and a contemporary and admirer of Socrates...

 from the 4th century BC.
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Unanswered Questions
Quotations

Your ancestors invaded Macedonia and the rest of Greece and did us great harm, though we had done them no prior injury; ... [and] I have been appointed leader of the Greeks ...

Anabasis Alexandri II, 14, 4
Encyclopedia
Lucius Flavius Arrianus 'Xenophon' (ca. AD 86 - 160), known in English as Arrian (Ἀρριανός), and Arrian of Nicomedia
Nicomedia
Nicomedia was an ancient city in what is now Turkey, founded in 712/11 BC as a Megarian colony and was originally known as Astacus . After being destroyed by Lysimachus, it was rebuilt by Nicomedes I of Bithynia in 264 BC under the name of Nicomedia, and has ever since been one of the most...

, was a Roman
Ancient Rome
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....

 (ethnic Greek) historian, public servant, a military commander and a philosopher of the 2nd-century Roman
Roman and Byzantine Greece
The history of Byzantine Greece mainly coincides with the rise and fall of the Byzantine Empire.-Roman Greece:The Greek peninsula became a Roman protectorate in 146 BC, and the Aegean islands were added to this territory in 133. Athens and other Greek cities revolted in 88, and the peninsula was...

 period. As with other authors of the Second Sophistic
Second Sophistic
The Second Sophistic is a literary-historical term referring to the Greek writers who flourished from the reign of Nero until c. 230 AD and who were catalogued and celebrated by Philostratus in his Lives of the Sophists...

, Arrian wrote primarily in Attic (Indica
Indica (Arrian)
Indica is the name of an ancient book about India written by Arrian, one of the main ancient historians of Alexander the Great. The book mainly tells the story of Alexander's officer Nearchus’ voyage from India to the Persian Gulf after Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Indus Valley...

 is in Herodotus' Ionic
Ionic Greek
Ionic Greek was a subdialect of the Attic–Ionic dialect group of Ancient Greek .-History:Ionic dialect appears to have spread originally from the Greek mainland across the Aegean at the time of the Dorian invasions, around the 11th Century B.C.By the end of the Greek Dark Ages in the 5th Century...

 dialect, his philosophical works in Koine Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

) .

Anabasis of Alexander
Anabasis Alexandri
Anabasis Alexandri , the Campaigns of Alexander by Arrian, is the most important source on Alexander the Great.The Greek term anabasis referred to an expedition from a coastline into the interior of a country. The term katabasis referred to a trip from the interior to the coast...

is perhaps his best known work and is generally considered one of the best sources on the campaigns of Alexander the Great, not to be confused with Anabasis
Anabasis (Xenophon)
Anabasis is the most famous work, in seven books, of the Greek professional soldier and writer Xenophon. The journey it narrates is his best known accomplishment and "one of the great adventures in human history," as Will Durant expressed the common assessment.- The account :Xenophon accompanied...

, then best-known work of the Athenian military leader and author Xenophon
Xenophon
Xenophon , son of Gryllus, of the deme Erchia of Athens, also known as Xenophon of Athens, was a Greek historian, soldier, mercenary, philosopher and a contemporary and admirer of Socrates...

 from the 4th century BC. Arrian is also considered as one of the founders of a primarily military-based focus on history. His other works include Discourses of Epictetus
Discourses of Epictetus
The Discourses of Epictetus are a series of extracts of the teachings of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus written down by Arrian c. 108 AD. There were originally eight books, but only four now remain in their entirety, along with a few fragments of the others...

and Indica
Indica (Arrian)
Indica is the name of an ancient book about India written by Arrian, one of the main ancient historians of Alexander the Great. The book mainly tells the story of Alexander's officer Nearchus’ voyage from India to the Persian Gulf after Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Indus Valley...

.

Arrian's life


Arrian was born of Greek ethnicity in the coastal town of Nicomedia
Nicomedia
Nicomedia was an ancient city in what is now Turkey, founded in 712/11 BC as a Megarian colony and was originally known as Astacus . After being destroyed by Lysimachus, it was rebuilt by Nicomedes I of Bithynia in 264 BC under the name of Nicomedia, and has ever since been one of the most...

 (present-day Izmit
Izmit
İzmit is a city in Turkey, administrative center of Kocaeli Province as well as the Kocaeli Metropolitan Municipality. It is located at the Gulf of İzmit in the Sea of Marmara, about east of Istanbul, on the northwestern part of Anatolia. The city center has a population of 294.875...

), the capital of the Roman province of Bithynia
Bithynia
Bithynia was an ancient region, kingdom and Roman province in the northwest of Asia Minor, adjoining the Propontis, the Thracian Bosporus and the Euxine .-Description:...

, in what is now north-western Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, about 70 km from Byzantium
Byzantium
Byzantium was an ancient Greek city, founded by Greek colonists from Megara in 667 BC and named after their king Byzas . The name Byzantium is a Latinization of the original name Byzantion...

 (later Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

, now Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

). He studied philosophy in Nicopolis
Nicopolis
Nicopolis — or Actia Nicopolis — was an ancient city of Epirus, founded 31 BC by Octavian in memory of his victory over Antony and Cleopatra at Actium the previous year. It was later the capital of Epirus Vetus...

 in Epirus
Epirus
The name Epirus, from the Greek "Ήπειρος" meaning continent may refer to:-Geographical:* Epirus - a historical and geographical region of the southwestern Balkans, straddling modern Greece and Albania...

, under the Stoic
STOIC
STOIC was a variant of Forth.It started out at the MIT and Harvard Biomedical Engineering Centre in Boston, and was written in the mid 1970s by Jonathan Sachs...

 philosopher Epictetus
Epictetus
Epictetus was a Greek sage and Stoic philosopher. He was born a slave at Hierapolis, Phrygia , and lived in Rome until banishment when he went to Nicopolis in northwestern Greece where he lived the rest of his life. His teachings were noted down and published by his pupil Arrian in his Discourses...

, and wrote two books about the philosopher's teachings. At the same time he entered the Imperial service, and served as a junior adviser on the consilium of Gaius Avidius Nigrinus
Gaius Avidius Nigrinus
Gaius Avidius Nigrinus was a Roman that lived between the 1st and 2nd centuries.Nigrinus’ paternal and maternal ancestors were Romans of the highest political rank. He was the son of an elder Gaius Avidius Nigrinus by an unnamed mother, his brother was the consul Titus Avidius Quietus and his...

, governor of Achaea and a close friend of the future Emperor Hadrian
Hadrian
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...

, around 111-114. Very little is known about his subsequent career - though it is probable that he served in Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 and on the Danube
Danube
The Danube is a river in the Central Europe and the Europe's second longest river after the Volga. It is classified as an international waterway....

 frontier, and possible that he was in Baetica and Parthia
Parthia
Parthia is a region of north-eastern Iran, best known for having been the political and cultural base of the Arsacid dynasty, rulers of the Parthian Empire....

 - until he held the office of Consul
Consul
Consul was the highest elected office of the Roman Republic and an appointive office under the Empire. The title was also used in other city states and also revived in modern states, notably in the First French Republic...

 in 129 or 130. In 131 he was appointed governor of the Black Sea
Black Sea
The Black Sea is bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean...

 province of Cappadocia
Cappadocia
Cappadocia is a historical region in Central Anatolia, largely in Nevşehir Province.In the time of Herodotus, the Cappadocians were reported as occupying the whole region from Mount Taurus to the vicinity of the Euxine...

 and commander of the Roman legions
Roman legion
A Roman legion normally indicates the basic ancient Roman army unit recruited specifically from Roman citizens. The organization of legions varied greatly over time but they were typically composed of perhaps 5,000 soldiers, divided into maniples and later into "cohorts"...

 on the frontier with Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

. It was unusual at this time for a Greek to hold such high military command.

In 135, Cappadocia was threatened by an Alan
Alans
The Alans, or the Alani, occasionally termed Alauni or Halani, were a group of Sarmatian tribes, nomadic pastoralists of the 1st millennium AD who spoke an Eastern Iranian language which derived from Scytho-Sarmatian and which in turn evolved into modern Ossetian.-Name:The various forms of Alan —...

 invasion. Arrian later wrote a military treatise called Ektaxis kata Alanōn, which detailed the battle against the Alans, and the Technē Taktikē in which he described how he would organise the legions and auxiliary troops at his disposal, among which legions XII Fulminata
Legio XII Fulminata
Legio duodecima Fulminata , also known as Paterna, Victrix, Antiqua, Certa Constans, and Galliena, was a Roman legion, levied by Julius Caesar in 58 BC and which accompanied him during the Gallic wars until 49 BC. The unit was still guarding the Euphrates River crossing near Melitene at the...

 and XV Apollinaris
Legio XV Apollinaris
Legio quinta decima Apollinaris was a Roman legion. It was recruited by Octavian in 41/40 BC. The emblem of this legion was probably a picture of Apollo, or of one of his holy animals....

. He deployed the legionaries in depth supported by javelin throwers, archers, and horse archers in the rear ranks to defeat the assault of the Alan cavalry using these combined arms
Combined arms
Combined arms is an approach to warfare which seeks to integrate different branches of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects...

 tactics. However, Arrian's work may have been entirely hypothetical, because there is no historical record of a battle between Romans and Alans that year. During this period Arrian wrote several works on military tactics, including Ektaxis kata Alanōn. He also wrote a short account of a tour of inspection of the Black Sea coast in the traditional 'periplus
Periplus
Periplus is the Latinization of an ancient Greek word, περίπλους , literally "a sailing-around." Both segments, peri- and -plous, were independently productive: the ancient Greek speaker understood the word in its literal sense; however, it developed a few specialized meanings, one of which became...

' form (in Greek) addressed to the Emperor Hadrian, the Periplus Ponti Euxini or "Circumnavigation of the Black Sea".

Arrian left Cappadocia shortly before the death of his patron Hadrian, in 138, and there is no evidence for any further public appointments until 145/6
145
Year 145 was a common year starting on Thursday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Hadrianus and Caesar...

 when he was elected Archon
Archon
Archon is a Greek word that means "ruler" or "lord", frequently used as the title of a specific public office. It is the masculine present participle of the verb stem ἀρχ-, meaning "to rule", derived from the same root as monarch, hierarchy, and anarchy.- Ancient Greece :In ancient Greece the...

 at Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

, once the city's leading political post but by this time an honorary one. It was here that he devoted himself to history, writing his most important work, the Anabasis Alexandri
Anabasis Alexandri
Anabasis Alexandri , the Campaigns of Alexander by Arrian, is the most important source on Alexander the Great.The Greek term anabasis referred to an expedition from a coastline into the interior of a country. The term katabasis referred to a trip from the interior to the coast...

or "The Campaigns of Alexander". He also wrote the Indica
Indica (Arrian)
Indica is the name of an ancient book about India written by Arrian, one of the main ancient historians of Alexander the Great. The book mainly tells the story of Alexander's officer Nearchus’ voyage from India to the Persian Gulf after Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Indus Valley...

, an account of the voyage by Alexander's fleet from India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 to the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

 under Nearchus
Nearchus
Nearchus was one of the officers, a navarch, in the army of Alexander the Great. His celebrated voyage from India to Susa after Alexander's expedition in India is preserved in Arrian's account, the Indica....

. He also wrote a political history of the Greek world after Alexander, most of which is lost. It is not known when Arrian died.

The Anabasis of Alexander



Arrian is an important historian because his work on Alexander is the widest read, and arguably the most complete, account of the Macedon
Macedon
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

ian conqueror. Arrian was able to use sources which are now mostly lost, such as the contemporary works by Callisthenes
Callisthenes
Callisthenes of Olynthus was a Greek historian. He was the son of Hero and Proxenus of Atarneus, which made him the great nephew of Aristotle by his sister Arimneste. They first met when Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great...

 (the nephew of Alexander's tutor Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

), Onesicritus
Onesicritus
Onesicritus , a Greek historical writer, who accompanied Alexander on his campaigns in Asia. He claimed to have been the commander of Alexander's fleet but was actually only a helmsman; Arrian and Nearchus often criticize him for this. When he returned home, he wrote a history of Alexander's...

, Nearchus
Nearchus
Nearchus was one of the officers, a navarch, in the army of Alexander the Great. His celebrated voyage from India to Susa after Alexander's expedition in India is preserved in Arrian's account, the Indica....

 and Aristobulus
Aristobulus of Cassandreia
For other use, see AristobulusAristobulus of Cassandreia , Greek historian, son of Aristobulus, probably a Phocian settled inCassandreia, accompanied Alexander the Great on his campaigns...

. Most important of all, Arrian had the biography of Alexander by Ptolemy, one of Alexander's leading generals and allegedly his half-brother.

Criticism


Arrian says that Alexander's greatness is worthy of praise and glory, and should be known by future generations. It seems that he wanted to make Alexander's life a legend—which it is today—through his book. Not all historians agree with this goal. A. B. Bosworth, an expert on Greek history, criticized what he viewed as Arrian's hagiography
Hagiography
Hagiography is the study of saints.From the Greek and , it refers literally to writings on the subject of such holy people, and specifically to the biographies of saints and ecclesiastical leaders. The term hagiology, the study of hagiography, is also current in English, though less common...

 in 'Errors in Arrian' (1976)

Bosworth, in line with the epigraphic tradition of modern classical studies, points out that Arrian is a secondary source
Secondary source
In scholarship, a secondary source is a document or recording that relates or discusses information originally presented elsewhere. A secondary source contrasts with a primary source, which is an original source of the information being discussed; a primary source can be a person with direct...

 of Alexander's biographical data: "Arrian is prone to misread and misinterpret his primary sources, and the smooth flow of his narrative can obscure treacherous quicksands of error". One of his principal sources, Ptolemy, was an interested party. Bosworth writes that "not only has it been virtually disproved that Ptolemy constructed his history from archival material, but it appears that he inserted his own propaganda to exaggerate his personal achievements under Alexander and to discredit those of his rivals". Bosworth alleges that "Arrian was prone to the errors of misunderstanding and faulty source conflation that one would expect in a secondary historian of antiquity".

Bosworth further points out that "Arrian makes it quite plain that his work is designed as a literary showpiece. Alexander's achievements, he says, have never been adequately commemorated in prose or verse. The field is therefore open for him to do for the Macedonian king what Pindar had done for the Deinomenid tyrants and Xenophon for the march of the Ten Thousand". Bosworth states that "Arrian has in mind Thucydides' famous strictures of histories of the pentekontaetia, on which the passage is patently modelled". The charge is that Arrian has written a panegyric
Panegyric
A panegyric is a formal public speech, or written verse, delivered in high praise of a person or thing, a generally highly studied and discriminating eulogy, not expected to be critical. It is derived from the Greek πανηγυρικός meaning "a speech fit for a general assembly"...

 rather than a work of serious history.

Response


Alexander was a controversial figure in antiquity, as he is today. A favorable biography of him was thus bound to be controversial from the start. In response to criticism, Arrian had this to say about his work:

"No matter who I am that make this claim. I need not declare my name- though it is by no mean unheard of in the world; I need not specify my country and family, or any official position I may have held. Rather let me say this: that this book of mine is, and has been from my youth, more precious than country and kin and public advancement- indeed, for me it is these things."

Language and style


At the time of Arrian's daily life, the koine, or "common Greek" of the Hellenistic and Roman periods was in universal spoken use. As a writer, Arrian was obliged by the prevailing literary mores
Mores
Mores, in sociology, are any given society's particular norms, virtues, or values. The word mores is a plurale tantum term borrowed from Latin, which has been used in the English language since the 1890s....

 of his time to compose his works in "good Greek
Attic Greek
Attic Greek is the prestige dialect of Ancient Greek that was spoken in Attica, which includes Athens. Of the ancient dialects, it is the most similar to later Greek, and is the standard form of the language studied in courses of "Ancient Greek". It is sometimes included in Ionic.- Origin and range...

," which meant imitating as closely as possible the grammar and literary style of the Athenian writers of the 5th century BC. In Arrian's case this meant following the Attic style of Xenophon
Xenophon
Xenophon , son of Gryllus, of the deme Erchia of Athens, also known as Xenophon of Athens, was a Greek historian, soldier, mercenary, philosopher and a contemporary and admirer of Socrates...

 and Thucydides
Thucydides
Thucydides was a Greek historian and author from Alimos. His History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the 5th century BC war between Sparta and Athens to the year 411 BC...

. This is somewhat the equivalent of a modern historian trying to write in the English of Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

 (although it is unheard of for a modern academic to write in Elizabethan English whereas harking back to the language of the Classical past was rather common practice amongst Arrian's contemporaries). His account of India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, the Indica
Indica (Arrian)
Indica is the name of an ancient book about India written by Arrian, one of the main ancient historians of Alexander the Great. The book mainly tells the story of Alexander's officer Nearchus’ voyage from India to the Persian Gulf after Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Indus Valley...

, was written in an equally wooden imitation of the language of Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

.

The result is a work which was inevitably stilted and artificial, although Arrian handled the strain of writing 500-year-old Greek better than some of his contemporaries. Xenophon was a good model of clear and unpretentious prose, which Arrian was wise to follow. He considered his Cynegeticon, ("On Hunting"), as an addition to the work of the same name by Xenophon. Modern historians may regret that so many of the earlier works on Alexander have been lost, but may of them are grateful to Arrian for preserving so much.

Conclusion


The scholarly consensus is that Arrian's work is to a considerable extent a reworking of Ptolemy; albeit with material from other writers, particularly Aristobulus, brought in where Arrian thought them useful. Ptolemy was a general, and Arrian relied on him as a professional of military science
Military science
Military science is the process of translating national defence policy to produce military capability by employing military scientists, including theorists, researchers, experimental scientists, applied scientists, designers, engineers, test technicians, and military personnel responsible for...

 and hence for details of Alexander's battles, on which Ptolemy was certainly well informed. Details of geography and natural history were taken from Aristobulus, although Arrian himself had a wide knowledge of Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 and other eastern regions.

Today more interest focuses on Alexander as a man and as a political leader, and here Arrian's sources are less clear and his reliability more questionable. Probably it was not possible for Arrian to recover an accurate picture of Alexander's personality 400 years after his death, when most of his sources were partisan in one way or another. Aristobulus, for example, was known as kolax (κόλαξ), the flatterer, while other sources were hostile or had political agendas.

Arrian was in any case primarily a military historian, and here he followed his great model (from whom he earned his nickname), the terse and narrowly-focused soldier-historian Xenophon
Xenophon
Xenophon , son of Gryllus, of the deme Erchia of Athens, also known as Xenophon of Athens, was a Greek historian, soldier, mercenary, philosopher and a contemporary and admirer of Socrates...

. He has little to say about Alexander's personal life, his role in Greek politics or the reasons why the campaign against Persia
Achaemenid Empire
The Achaemenid Empire , sometimes known as First Persian Empire and/or Persian Empire, was founded in the 6th century BCE by Cyrus the Great who overthrew the Median confederation...

 was launched in the first place. More than 1800 years later, Mary Renault
Mary Renault
Mary Renault born Eileen Mary Challans, was an English writer best known for her historical novels set in Ancient Greece...

, an admirer of both Alexander and Arrian, wrote an acclaimed biography of Alexander, "The Nature of Alexander," drawing heavily on Arrian's work, as well as the few other sources which are still extant. Renault's work focuses on Alexander's character, motivations, strengths and weaknesses. With its similar title and prominent mention of Arrian in the preface, it may have been intended as a sequel to Arrian's "The Campaigns of Alexander," or simply to fill in the gaps in his account.

Nevertheless, Arrian's work gives a reasonably full account of Alexander's life during the campaign, and in his personal assessment of Alexander he steers a judicious course between flattery and condemnation. He concedes Alexander's emotionality, vanity, and weakness for drink
Binge drinking
Binge drinking or heavy episodic drinking is the modern epithet for drinking alcoholic beverages with the primary intention of becoming intoxicated by heavy consumption of alcohol over a short period of time. It is a kind of purposeful drinking style that is popular in several countries worldwide,...

, but acquits him of the grosser crimes some writers accused him of. But he does not discuss Alexander's wider political views or other aspects of his life that the modern reader would like to know more about.

Other works


Arrian's other works preserve the philosophy of Epictetus
Epictetus
Epictetus was a Greek sage and Stoic philosopher. He was born a slave at Hierapolis, Phrygia , and lived in Rome until banishment when he went to Nicopolis in northwestern Greece where he lived the rest of his life. His teachings were noted down and published by his pupil Arrian in his Discourses...

 in Discourses of Epictetus
Discourses of Epictetus
The Discourses of Epictetus are a series of extracts of the teachings of the Stoic philosopher Epictetus written down by Arrian c. 108 AD. There were originally eight books, but only four now remain in their entirety, along with a few fragments of the others...

(c. 108 BC), and include the Indica
Indica (Arrian)
Indica is the name of an ancient book about India written by Arrian, one of the main ancient historians of Alexander the Great. The book mainly tells the story of Alexander's officer Nearchus’ voyage from India to the Persian Gulf after Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Indus Valley...

a description of Nearchus
Nearchus
Nearchus was one of the officers, a navarch, in the army of Alexander the Great. His celebrated voyage from India to Susa after Alexander's expedition in India is preserved in Arrian's account, the Indica....

' voyage from India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 following Alexander's conquest, and other short works.

Other surviving classical histories of Alexander

  • The Roman historian Quintus Curtius Rufus
    Quintus Curtius Rufus
    Quintus Curtius Rufus was a Roman historian, writing probably during the reign of the Emperor Claudius or Vespasian. His only surviving work, Historiae Alexandri Magni, is a biography of Alexander the Great in Latin in ten books, of which the first two are lost, and the remaining eight are...

     wrote Historiae Alexandri Magni. a biography of Alexander the Great in Latin
    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...

     in ten books of which the last eight survive.
  • The Greek historian Diodorus Siculus
    Diodorus Siculus
    Diodorus Siculus was a Greek historian who flourished between 60 and 30 BC. According to Diodorus' own work, he was born at Agyrium in Sicily . With one exception, antiquity affords no further information about Diodorus' life and doings beyond what is to be found in his own work, Bibliotheca...

     wrote Library of world history in forty books; of these book seventeen covers the conquests of Alexander.
  • The Greek historian/biographer Plutarch
    Plutarch
    Plutarch then named, on his becoming a Roman citizen, Lucius Mestrius Plutarchus , c. 46 – 120 AD, was a Greek historian, biographer, essayist, and Middle Platonist known primarily for his Parallel Lives and Moralia...

     of Chaeronea
    Chaeronea
    Chaeronea is a village and a former municipality in Boeotia, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Livadeia, of which it is a municipal unit. Population 2,218...

     wrote the On the Fortune or the Virtue of Alexander the Great and a Alexander.
  • The Roman historian Justin
    Junianus Justinus
    Justin was a Latin historian who lived under the Roman Empire. His name is mentioned only in the title of his own history, and there it is in the genitive, which would be M. Juniani Justini no matter which nomen he bore.Of his personal history nothing is known...

     wrote an epitome of the Historiae Philippicae written by Gnaeus Pompeius Trogus
    Gnaeus Pompeius Trogus
    Gnaeus Pompēius Trōgus, known as Pompeius Trogus, Pompey Trogue, or Trogue Pompey, was a 1st century BC Roman historian of the Celtic tribe of the Vocontii in Gallia Narbonensis, flourished during the age of Augustus, nearly contemporary with Livy.His grandfather served in the war against Sertorius...

    , in 44 books. Of these books 12 and 13 cover Alexander.

Further reading


  • Arrian, The Campaigns of Alexander, translated by Aubrey de Sélincourt, Penguin Classics, 1958 and numerous subsequent editions.
  • Phillips, A.A., and M.M. Willcock, (eds.). Xenophon & Arrian On Hunting with Hounds. Cynegeticus. Oxford: Aris & Phillips, 1999. ISBN 0-85668-706-5.
  • P. A. Stadter, Arrian of Nicomedia, Chapel Hill, 1980.
  • R. Syme
    Ronald Syme
    Sir Ronald Syme, OM, FBA was a New Zealand-born historian and classicist. Long associated with Oxford University, he is widely regarded as the 20th century's greatest historian of ancient Rome...

    , 'The Career of Arrian', Harvard Studies in Classical Philology vol.86 (1982), pp. 171–211.
  • E. L. Wheeler, Flavius Arrianus: a political and military biography, Duke University, 1977.nn

External links



Texts online
  • Collected works: Flavii Arriani Quae exstant omnia, vol. 1 and vol. 2 edited A.G.Roos (1907)
  • Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri, Teubner monolingual Greek edition, edited by A.G. Roos (1907)
  • Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri, translated by E.J. Chinnock (1893)
  • Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri, (section 1.13-16) (pdf, pp. 18-19), Battle of Granicus, from the Loeb Classical Library
    Loeb Classical Library
    The Loeb Classical Library is a series of books, today published by Harvard University Press, which presents important works of ancient Greek and Latin Literature in a way designed to make the text accessible to the broadest possible audience, by presenting the original Greek or Latin text on each...

     edition.
  • Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri, (section 4.18.4-19.6), Sogdian Rock
    Sogdian Rock
    Sogdian Rock or Rock of Ariamazes, a fortress located north of Bactria in Sogdiana , was captured by the forces of Alexander the Great in 327 BC as part of his conquest of the Achaemenid Empire.-Background:...

    , translated by Aubrey de Sélincourt
  • Arrian, Anabasis Alexandri, (Section 7.5.1-16) , translated by John Yardley
  • Arrian, Events after Alexander (from Photius' Bibliotheca) translated by John Rooke, edited by Tim Spalding
  • Arrian, The Indica translated by E. Iliff Robson.
  • Arrian, Array against the Alans translated by Sander van Dorst, with the Greek (transliterated) and copious notes.
  • Photius' excerpt of Arrian's Anabasis, translated by J.S. Freese
  • Photius' excerpt of Arrian's Bithynica, translated by J.S. Freese
  • Photius' excerpt of Arrian's Parthica, translated by J.S. Freese
  • Photius' excerpt of Arrian's Events after Alexander, translated by J.S. Freese