Callisthenes

Callisthenes

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Callisthenes'
Start a new discussion about 'Callisthenes'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Callisthenes of Olynthus (in Greek
Greek language
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;...

 ; ca. 360-328 BC) was a Greek
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 historian
Historian
A historian is a person who studies and writes about the past and is regarded as an authority on it. Historians are concerned with the continuous, methodical narrative and research of past events as relating to the human race; as well as the study of all history in time. If the individual is...

. He was the son of Hero
Hero
A hero , in Greek mythology and folklore, was originally a demigod, their cult being one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion...

and Proxenus of Atarneus
Proxenus of Atarneus
Proxenus of Atarneus is most famous for being Aristotle's guardian after the death of his parents. Proxenus educated Aristotle for a couple of years before sending him to Athens to Plato's Academy....

, which made him the great nephew of 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...

 by his sister Arimneste
Arimneste
Arimneste was the daughter of Nicomachus and Phaestis, and Aristotle's older sister. In addition to Aristotle, Arimneste had a brother named Arimnestus. Her name and that of her brother translates as "Greatly remembered"....

. They first met when Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great. Through his great-uncle's influence, he was later appointed to attend Alexander the Great on his Asiatic expedition as a professional historian.

During the first years of Alexander's campaign in Asia, Callisthenes showered praises upon 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. As the king and army penetrated further into Asia, however, Callisthenes' tone began to change. He began to sharply criticize Alexander's adoption of Persian customs, with special scorn for Alexander's growing desire that those who presented themselves before him perform the servile ceremony of proskynesis
Proskynesis
Proskynesis refers to the traditional Persian act of prostrating oneself before a person of higher social rank....

. Callisthenes was later implicated in a treasonous conspiracy and thrown into prison, where he died from torture or disease. His death was commemorated in a special treatise (Callisthenes or a Treatise on Grief) by his friend Theophrastus
Theophrastus
Theophrastus , a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos, was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. He came to Athens at a young age, and initially studied in Plato's school. After Plato's death he attached himself to Aristotle. Aristotle bequeathed to Theophrastus his writings, and...

, whose acquaintance he made during a visit to 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...

.

Callisthenes wrote an account of Alexander's expedition up to the time of his own execution, a history of Greece from the Peace of Antalcidas
Peace of Antalcidas
The Peace of Antalcidas , also known as the King's Peace, was a peace treaty guaranteed by the Persian King Artaxerxes II that ended the Corinthian War in ancient Greece. The treaty's alternate name comes from Antalcidas, the Spartan diplomat who traveled to Susa to negotiate the terms of the...

 (387) to the Phocian war (357), a history of the Phocian war, and other works, all of which have perished. However, his account of Alexander's expedition was preserved long enough to be mined as a direct or indirect source for other histories that have survived. Polybius
Polybius
Polybius , Greek ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic Period noted for his work, The Histories, which covered the period of 220–146 BC in detail. The work describes in part the rise of the Roman Republic and its gradual domination over Greece...

 scolds Callisthenes for his poor descriptions of the battles of Alexander.

A quantity of the more legendary material coalesced into a text known as the Alexander Romance
Alexander Romance
Alexander romance is any of several collections of legends concerning the mythical exploits of Alexander the Great. The earliest version is in Greek, dating to the 3rd century. Several late manuscripts attribute the work to Alexander's court historian Callisthenes, but the historical figure died...

, the basis of all the Alexander legends of the Middle Ages, originated during the time of the Ptolemies
Ptolemaic dynasty
The Ptolemaic dynasty, was a Macedonian Greek royal family which ruled the Ptolemaic Empire in Egypt during the Hellenistic period. Their rule lasted for 275 years, from 305 BC to 30 BC...

, but in its present form belongs to the 3rd century AD. Its author is usually known as pseudo-Callisthenes, although in the Latin translation by Julius Valerius Alexander Polemius
Julius Valerius Alexander Polemius
Julius Valerius Alexander Polemius of the Valerius gens was a translator of the Greek Pseudo-Callisthenes, the romantic history of Alexander the Great, to the Latin Res gestae Alexandri Macedonis, in three books: birth; acts; death. The work is important in connection with the transmission of the...

 (beginning of the 4th century) it is ascribed to a certain Aesopus; Aristotle, Antisthenes, Onesicritus and Arrian
Arrian
Lucius Flavius Arrianus 'Xenophon , known in English as Arrian , and Arrian of Nicomedia, was a Roman historian, public servant, a military commander and a philosopher of the 2nd-century Roman period...

 have also been credited with the authorship.

There are also Syrian, Armenian and Slavonic versions, in addition to four Greek
Greek language
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;...

 versions (two in prose and two in verse) in the Middle Ages (see Krumbacher
Karl Krumbacher
Karl Krumbacher was a German scholar who was an expert on Byzantine culture.He was born at Kürnach im Allgäu in Bavaria, and was educated at the Universities of Munich and Leipzig, and held the professorship of the middle ages and modern Greek language and literature in the former from 1897 to his...

, Geschichte der byzantinischen Literatur, 1897, p. 849). Valerius
Valerius
Valerius is the nomen of gens Valeria, one of the oldest patrician families of Rome. The name was in use throughout Roman history...

's translation was completely superseded by that of Leo, arch-priest of Naples in the 10th century, the so-called Historia de Preliis.

Primary sources

  • Suda
    Suda
    The Suda or Souda is a massive 10th century Byzantine encyclopedia of the ancient Mediterranean world, formerly attributed to an author called Suidas. It is an encyclopedic lexicon, written in Greek, with 30,000 entries, many drawing from ancient sources that have since been lost, and often...

     s.v.
  • Diog. Laertius
    Diogenes Laertius
    Diogenes Laertius was a biographer of the Greek philosophers. Nothing is known about his life, but his surviving Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers is one of the principal surviving sources for the history of Greek philosophy.-Life:Nothing is definitively known about his life...

     v. 1;
  • Arrian, Anab. iv. 10-14;
  • Quintus Curtius viii. 5-8;
  • 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...

    , Alexander, 52-55;

Secondary sources

  • J. Zacher, Pseudo-Callisthenes (1867);
  • W. Christ, Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur (1898), pp. 363, 819;
  • Edward Meyer
    Edward Meyer
    Edward Meyer or Ed Meyer may refer to:*Edward Meyer , former New York assembly member, and Connecticut state senator*Edward C. Meyer , former U.S. Army Chief of Staff...

    , article in Ersch and Gruber
    Johann Gottfried Gruber
    Johann Gottfried Gruber was a German critic and literary historian.-Biography:Gruber was born at Naumburg on the Saale....

    's Allgemeine Encyklopädie; ,
  • A. Ausfeld, Zur Kritik des griechischen Alexanderromans (Bruchsal, 1894);
  • A. Westermann, De Callisthene Olynthio et Pseudo-Callisthene Commentatio (1838–1842);
  • See Scriptores rerum Alexandri Magni (by C. W. Müller, in the Didot
    Didot
    Didot is the name of a family of French printers, punch-cutters and publishers. Through its achievements and advancements in printing, publishing and typography, the family has lent its name to typographic measurements developed by François-Ambroise Didot and the Didot typeface developed by Firmin...

    edition of Arrian, 1846), containing the genuine fragments and the text of the pseudo-Callisthenes

External links