Historical Miscellany

Historical Miscellany

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Aelian's Historical Miscellany is a pleasurable example of light reading for Romans of the early third century. Offering engaging anecdotes about historical figures, retellings of legendary events, and descriptive pieces - in sum: amusement, information, and variety - Aelian's collection of nuggets and narratives could be enjoyed by a wide reading public. A rather similar book had been published in Latin in the previous century by Aulus Gellius; Aelian is a late, perhaps the last, representative of what had been a very popular genre. Here then are anecdotes about the famous Greek philosophers, poets, historians, and playwrights; myths instructively retold; moralizing tales about heroes and rulers, athletes and wise men; reports about styles in dress, foods and drink, lovers, gift-giving practices, entertainments, religious beliefs and death customs; and comments on Greek painting. Some of the information is not preserved in any other source. Underlying it all are Aelian's Stoic ideals as well as this Roman's great admiration for the culture of the Greeks (whose language he borrowed for his writings).

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Product details

  • Hardback | 520 pages
  • 112 x 160 x 28mm | 340.19g
  • HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS
  • LOEB
  • Cambridge, Mass, United States
  • English
  • Annotated
  • annotated edition
  • 067499535X
  • 9780674995352
  • 570,373

Back cover copy

Aelian's Historical Miscellany is a pleasurable example of light reading for Romans of the early third century. Offering engaging anecdotes about historical figures, retellings of legendary events, and descriptive pieces - in sum: amusement, information, and variety - Aelian's collection of nuggets and narratives could be enjoyed by a wide reading public. A rather similar book had been published in Latin in the previous century by Aulus Gellius; Aelian is a late, perhaps the last, representative of what had been a very popular genre. Here then are anecdotes about the famous Greek philosophers, poets, historians, and playwrights; myths instructively retold; moralizing tales about heroes and rulers, athletes and wise men; reports about styles in dress, foods and drink, lovers, gift-giving practices, entertainments, religious beliefs and death customs; and comments on Greek painting. Some of the information is not preserved in any other source. Underlying it all are Aelian's Stoic ideals as well as this Roman's great admiration for the culture of the Greeks (whose language he borrowed for his writings).

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Review quote

Classicists no longer have an excuse not to check a citation in Aelian, and a general reader who wants to find out what a bedside book from antiquity might have looked like has the means ready to hand...Aelian's Greek can be quite tricky and with his translation Wilson puts us further in his debt: besides being clear and accurate it is often sprightly and even eloquent.--A. J. Podlecki "Scholia "

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