previous next

Alexander Corne'lius or Corne'lius Polyhistor

Ἀλέξανδρος Κορνήλιος), surnamed POLYHISTOR (Πολυΐστωρ), a Greek writer and contemporary of Sulla. According to Suidas he was a native of Ephesus and a pupil of Crates, and during the war of Sulla in Greece was made prisoner and sold as a slave to Cornelius Lentulus, who took him to Rome and made him the paedagogus of his children. Afterwards Lentulus restored him to freedom. From Suidas it would seem as if he had received the gentile name Cornelius from Lentulus, while Servius (Serv. ad Aen. 10.388) says, that he received the Roman franchise from L. Cornelius Sulla. He died at Laurentumin a fire which consumed his house, and as soon as his wife heard of the calamity, she hung herself. The statement of Suidas that he was a native of Ephesus is contradicted by Stephanus Byzantius (s. v. Κοτιάεον), who says that he was a native of Cotiaeum in Lesser Phrygia, and a son of Asclepiades, and who is borne out by the Etymologicum Magnum (s. vv. δέδοικα and τεριρρηδής), where Alexander is called Κοτιαεύς.


Παντοδαπῆς Ὕλης Λόγοι

The surname of Polyhistor was given to him on account of his prodigious learning. He is said to have written innumerable works, but the greatest and most important among them was one consisting of 42 books, which Stephanus Byzantius calls Παντοδαπῆς Ὕλης Λόγοι. This work appears to have contained historical and geographical accounts of nearly all countries of the ancient world. Each of the forty books treated of a separate country, and bore a corresponding title, such as Phrygiaca, Carica, Lyciaca, &c. But such titles are not always sure indications of a book forming only a part of the great work; and in some cases it is manifest that particular countries were treated of in separate works. Thus we find mention of the first book of a separate work on Crete (Schol. ad Apollon. Rhod. 4.1492), and of another on the " Tractus Illyricus." (V. Max. 8.13, ext. 7.) These geographico-historical works are referred to in innumerable passages of Stephanus Byzantius and Pliny.

On Phrygian Musicians

A separate work on the Phrygian musicians is mentioned by Plutarch (De Mus. 5).

Διαδοχαί Φιλοσόφων

There is every probability that Alexander Polyhistor is also the author of the work Διαδοχαί Φιλοσόφων which seems to be the groundwork of Diogenes Laertius. [ALEXANDER LYCHNUS.]

On the symbols of the Pythagoreans

A work on the symbols of the Pythagoreans is mentioned by Clemens Alexandrinus (Strom. i. p. 131) and Cyrillus (ad v. Julian. ix. p. 133).

A history of Judaea

He also wrote a history of Judaea, of which a considerable fragment is preserved in Eusebius. (Praep. Evang. 9.17; comp. Clem. Alexand. Strom. i. p 143 ; Steph. Byz. s. v. Ἰουδαία.)

A history of Rome

A history of Rome in five books is mentioned by Suidas, and a few fragments of it are preserved in Servius. (Ad Aen. 8.330, 10.388.)

Other Works

A complete list of all the known titles of the works of Alexander Polyhistor is given in Vossius, De Hist. Graec. p. 187, &c., ed. Westermann.


hide References (1 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (1):
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 8.13
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: