Arria'nus4. Of Nicomedeia in Bithynia, was born towards the end of the first century after Christ. He was a pupil and friend of Epictetus, through whose influence he became a zealous and active admirer of the Stoic philosophy, and more especially of the practical part of the system. He first attracted attention as a philosopher by publishing the lectures (διατριβαί) of his master. This he seems to have done at Athens; and the Athenians were so much delighted with them, that they honoured him with their franchise. Arrian, as we shall see hereafter, had chosen Xenophon as his model in writing, and the Athenians called him the young Xenophon, either from the resemblance of his style to that of Xenophon, or more probably from the similarity of his connexion with Epictetus, to that which existed between Xenophon and Socrates. (Photius, p. 17b. ed. Bekker; Suidas, s. v. Ἀρριανός.) In A. D. 124, he gained the friendship of the emperor Hadrian during his stay in Greece, and he received from the emperor's own hands the broad purple, a distinction which conferred upon him not only the Roman citizenship, but the right to hold any of the great offices of state in the Roman empire. From this time Arrian assumed the praenomen Flavius. In A. D. 136, he was appointed praefect of Cappadocia, which was invaded, the year after, by the Alani or Massagetae. He defeated them in a decisive battle, and added to his reputation of a philosopher that of a brave and skilful general. (D. C. 69.15.) Under Antoninus Pius, the successor of Hadrian, Arrian was promoted to the consulship, A. D. 146. In his later years he appears to have withdrawn from public life, and from about A. D. 150, he lived in his native town of Nicomedeia, as priest of Demeter and Persephone (Phot. p. 73b.), devoting himself entirely to study and the composition of historical works. He died at an advanced age in the reign of M. Aurelius. Dio Cassius is said to have written a life of Arrian shortly after his death, but no part of it has come down to us. (Suid. s. v. Δίων.)
Διατριβαὶ Ἐπικτήτου) in eight books (Phot. p. 17b.), the first half of which is still extant.
EditionsThey were first printed by Trincavelli, 1535, and afterwards together with the Encheiridion of Epictetus and Simplicius's commentary, with a Latin translation, by H. Wolf, Basel, 1560. The best editions are in Schweighäuser's Epicteteae Philosophiae Monumenta, vol. iii., and in Coraes' Πάρεργα Ἔλλην. Βιβλιοθ. vol. viii.
Ὁμιλίαι Ἐπικτήτου), in twelve books. (Phot. l.c.) This work is lost with the exception of a few fragments preserved in Stobaeus.
Ἐγχειρίδιον Ἐπικτήτου), which is still extant. This celebrated work, which seems to have been regarded even in antiquity as a suitable manual of practical philosophy, maintained its authority for many centuries, both with Christians and Pagans. About A. D. 550, Simplicius wrote a commentary upon it, and two Christian writers, Nilus and an anonymous author wrote paraphrases of it, adapted for Christians, in the first half of the fifth century of our era.
EditionsThe Encheiridion was first published in a Latin translation by Politianus, Rome, 1493, and in 1496, by Beroaldus, at Bologna. The Greek original, with the commentary of Simplicius, appeared first at Venice, 1528, 4to, This edition was soon followed by numerous others, as the work was gradually regarded and used as a school book. The best along the subsequent editions are those of Haloander (Nürnberg, 1529, 8vo.), Trincavelli (Venice, 1535, 8vo.), Naogeorgius (Strassburg, 1554, 8vo.), Berkel (Leyden, 1670, 8vo.), Schroeder (Frankfurt, 1723, 8vo.), and Heyne (Dresden and Leipzig, 1756 and 1776). The best among the recent editions are those of Schweighäuser and Coraes, in the collections above referred to.
4. Life of Epictetus
In connexion with Epictetus, we may also mention, IV.
A life of this philosopher by Arrian, which is now lost. Although the greater part of these philosophical works of Arrian has perished, yet the portion still extant, especially the διατριβαί, is the best and most perfect system of the ethical views of the Stoics, that has come down to us.
In the case of the διατριβαί, Arrian is only the editor, and his conscientiousness in preserving his master's statements and expressions is so great, that he even retains historical inaccuracies which Epictetus had fallen into, and which Arrian himself was well aware of.
5. ΚυνηγητικόςAnother work in which Arrian likewise followed Xenophon as his guide is, V. A treatise on the chase (Κυνηγητικός). It is so closely connected with the treatise of Xenophon on the same subject, that not only is its style an imitation of the latter's, but it forms a kind of supplement to Xenophon's work, in as much as he treats only of such points as he found omitted in Xenophon.
EditionsIt was first published with a Latin translation by L. Holstenius (Paris, 1644, 4to.); it is also contained in Zeune's Opuscula minora of Xenophon, and in Schneider's edition of Xenophon, vol. vi.
6. Anabasis and 7. Indica
Ἱστορίαι ἀναβάσεως Ἀλεξάνδρου, or simply Ἀνάβασις Ἀλεξάνδρου), in seven books, which we possess complete, with the exception of a gap in the 12th chapter of the seventh book, which unfortunately exists in all the MSS.
This great work reminds the reader of Xenophon's Anabasis, not only by its title, but also by the ease and clearness of its style.
The work is not, indeed, equal to the Anabasis in point of composition : it does not possess either the thorough equality and noble simplicity, or the vividness of Xenophon ; but Arrian is, nevertheless, in this work one of the most excellent writers of his time, above which he is raised by his simplicity and his unbiassed judgment. Great as his merits thus are as an historian, they are yet surpassed by his excellences as an historical critic. His Anabasis is based upon the most trustworthy historians among the contemporaries of Alexander, whose works are lost, such as Ptolemy, the son of Lagus, Aristobuus, the son of Aristobulus, which two he chiefly followed, Diodotus of Erythrae, Eumenes of Cardia, Nearchus of Crete, and Megasthenes; and his sound judgment as to who deserved credit, justly led him to reject the accounts of such authors as Onesicritus, Callisthenes, and others. No one at all acquainted with this work of Arrian can refuse his assent to the opinion of Photius (p. 73a.; comp. Lucian, Alex. 2), that Arrian was the best among the numerous historians of Alexander.
The work begins with the death of Philip, and after giving a brief account of the occurrences which followed that event, he proceeds in the eleventh chapter to relate the history of that gigantic expedition, which he continues down to the death of Alexander. One of the great merits of the work, independent of those already mentioned, is the clearness and distinctness with which he describes all military movements and operations, the drawing up of the armies for battle and the conduct of battles and sieges.
In all these respects the Anabasis is a masterly production, and Arrian shows that he himself possessed a thorough practical knowledge of military affairs.
He seldom introduces speeches, but wherever he does, he shows a profound knowledge of man ; and the speech of Alexander to his rebellious soldiers and the reply of Coenus (5.25, &c.), as well as some other speeches, are masterly specimens of oratory. Everything, moreover, which is not necessary to make his narrative clear, is carefully avoided, and it is probably owing to this desire to omit everything superfluous in the course of his narrative, that we are indebted for his separate work,
Ἰνδικὴ or τὰ Ἰνδικα), which may be regarded as a continuation of the Anabasis, and has sometimes been considered as the eighth book of it, although Arrian himself speaks of it as a distinct work.
It is usually printed at the end of the Anabasis, and was undoubtedly written immediately after it.
It is a curious fact, that the Indica is written in the Ionic dialect, a circumstance which has been accounted for by various suppositions, the most probable among which is, that Arrian in this point imitated Ctesias of Cnidus, whose work on the same subject he wished to supplant by a more trustworthy and correct account.
The first part of Arrian's Indica contains a very excellent description of the interior of India, in which he took Megasthenes and Eratosthenes as his guides. Then follows a most accurate description of the whole coast from the mouth of the Indus to the Persian gulf, which is based entirely upon the Παράπλους of Nearchus the Cretan, and the book concludes with proofs, that further south the earth is uninhabitable, on account of the great heat.
EditionsOf Arrian's Anabasis and Indica two Latin translations, the one by C. Valgulius (without date or place), and the other by B. Facius (Pisaur. 1508) appeared before the Greek text was printed; and the editio princeps of the original is that by Trincavelli, Venice, 1535, 8vo. Among the subsequent editions we mention only those of Gerbel (Strassb. 1539, 8vo.), H. Stephens (Paris, 1575, 8vo.), Blancard (Amsterd. 1688, 8vo.), J. Gronovius, who availed himself of several Augsburg and Italian MSS. (Leyden, 1704, fol.), K. A. Schmidt, with the notes of G. Raphelius (Amsterd, 1757, 8vo.) and Schneider, who published the Anabasis and Indica separately, the former at Leipzig, 1798, 8vo., and the latter at Halle, 1798, 8vo. The best modern editions of the Anabasis are those of J. E. Ellendt (Regimontii, 1832, 2 vols. 8vo.) and of C. W. Krüger. (Berlin, 1835, vol. i., which contains the text and various readings.)
περίπλους πόντου Εὐξείνου), which had undoubtedly been made by Arrian himself. The starting-point is Trapezus, whence he proceeds to Dioscurias, the Cimmerian and Thracian Bosporus, and Byzantium. This Periplus has come down to us together with two other works of a similar kind, the one a Periplus of the Erythraean, and the other a Periplus of the Euxine and the Palus Maeotis. Both these works also bear the name of Arrian, but they belong undoubtedly to a later period.