Tyrannion of Amisus

Tyrannion of Amisus

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Tyrannion was a Greek grammarian brought to Rome
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....

 as a war captive and slave.

Tyrannion was a native of Amisus in Pontus
Pontus or Pontos is a historical Greek designation for a region on the southern coast of the Black Sea, located in modern-day northeastern Turkey. The name was applied to the coastal region in antiquity by the Greeks who colonized the area, and derived from the Greek name of the Black Sea: Πόντος...

, the son of Epicratides, or according to some accounts, of Corymbus. He was a pupil of Hestiaeus of Amisus, and was originally called Theophrastus, but received from his instructor the name of Tyrannion ("the tyrant") on account of his domineering behaviour to his fellow disciples. He afterwards studied under Dionysius the Thracian
Dionysius Thrax
Dionysius Thrax was a Hellenistic grammarian and a pupil of Aristarchus of Samothrace. His place of origin was not Thrace as the epithet Thrax denotes, but probably Alexandria...

 at Rhodes
Rhodes is an island in Greece, located in the eastern Aegean Sea. It is the largest of the Dodecanese islands in terms of both land area and population, with a population of 117,007, and also the island group's historical capital. Administratively the island forms a separate municipality within...


In 72 BCE he was taken captive by Lucullus
Lucius Licinius Lucullus , was an optimate politician of the late Roman Republic, closely connected with Sulla Felix...

, who carried him 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...

. At the request of Lucius Licinius Murena
Lucius Licinius Murena
Lucius Licinius Murena was Roman consul in 62 BC. His father had the same name.At the end of the First Mithridatic War, he was left in Asia by Sulla in command of the two legions formerly controlled by Gaius Flavius Fimbria...

, Tyrannion was handed over to him, upon which he emancipated him, an act with which 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...

 finds fault, as the emancipation involved a recognition of his having been a slave
Slavery in ancient Rome
The institution of slavery in ancient Rome played an important role in society and the Roman economy. Besides manual labor on farms and in mines, slaves performed many domestic services and a variety of other tasks, such as accounting...

, which does not seem to have been the light in which Lucullus regarded him.

At Rome, Tyrannion occupied himself in teaching. He was also employed in arranging the library of Apellicon
Apellicon of Teos
Apellicon , a wealthy native of Teos, afterwards an Athenian citizen, was a famous book collector of the 1st century BCE.He not only spent large sums in the acquisition of his library, but stole original documents from the archives of Athens and other cities of Greece...

, which Sulla
Lucius Cornelius Sulla
Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix , known commonly as Sulla, was a Roman general and statesman. He had the rare distinction of holding the office of consul twice, as well as that of dictator...

 brought to Rome. Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

 employed him in a similar manner, and speaks in the highest terms of the learning and ability which Tyrannion exhibited in these labours. Cicero also availed himself of his services in the instruction of his nephew Quintus. Strabo
Strabo, also written Strabon was a Greek historian, geographer and philosopher.-Life:Strabo was born to an affluent family from Amaseia in Pontus , a city which he said was situated the approximate equivalent of 75 km from the Black Sea...

 speaks of having received instruction from Tyrannion.

The geographical knowledge of Tyrannion seems to have been considerable; at any rate Cicero thought highly of it. Tyrannion amassed considerable wealth, and, according to the scarcely credible statement of the 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...

, collected himself a library of 30 000 volumes. Cicero alludes to a small work of his, but we do not learn the subject of it. Tyrannion died at a very advanced age of a paralytic stroke
A stroke, previously known medically as a cerebrovascular accident , is the rapidly developing loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia caused by blockage , or a hemorrhage...