The Ancient Library

Scanned text contains errors.

On this page: Aelianus



Under the empire the Aelian name became still more celebrated. It was the name of the emperor Hadrian, and consequently of the Antonines, whom he adopted.

It is doubtful to which family P. Aelius be­longed who was one of the first plebeian quaestors. B. c. 409. (Liv. iv. 54.)

AELIANUS was together with Amandus the leader of an insurrection of Gallic peasants, called Bagaudae, in the reign of Diocletian. It was put down by the Caesar Maximianus Hemilius. (Eu-trop. ix. 13 ; Aurel. Vict. de Cae-s-, 89.]

AELIANUS, CASPE'EIUS, prefect of the Praetorian guards under Domitian and Nerva. He excited an insurrection of the guards against Nerva, in order to obtain the punishment of some obnoxious persons, but was killed by Trajan with his accomplices. (Dion Cass. Ixviii. 3, 5.)

AELIANUS, CLAU'DIUS y<5s), was born according to Suidas (s. v. at Praeneste in Italy, and lived at Rome. He calls himself a Roman (F. H. xii. 25), as pos­sessing the rights of Roman citizenship. He was particularly fond of the Greeks and of Greek lite­rature and oratory. (V. //. ix. 32, xii. 25.) He studied under Pausanias the rhetorician, and imitated the eloquence of Nicostratus and the style of Dion Chrysostom ; but especially admired H erodes Atticus more than all. He taught rheto­ric at Rome in the time of Hadrian, and hence was called 6 (ro^ionjs, go complete was the command he acquired over the Greek language that he could speak as well as a native Athenian, and hence was called 6 ^ueAiyAwrros or /jLe\i<p9oyyos. (Philost. Vit. Soph. ii. 31.) That rhetoric, however, was not his forte may easily be believed from the style of his works; and he appears to have given up teaching for writing. Suidas calls him JAp%ie/?€i)s (Pontifex), He lived to above sixty years of age, and had no children. He did not marry, because he would not have any. There are two considerable works of his remaining: one a collection of miscellaneous history (HoiKL\rj llcrropia) in fourteen books, com­monly called his " Varia Historia," and the other a work on the peculiarities of animals (Tlepl Zc«W fSiJ-njros) in seventeen books, commonly called his "De Animalium Natura." The former work con­tains short narrations and anecdotes, historical, biographical, antiquarian, &c., selected from various authors, generally without their names being given, and on a great variety of subjects. Its chief value arises from its containing many passages from works of older authors which are now lost. It is to be regretted that in selecting from Thucydides, Herodotus, and other writers, he has sometimes given himself the trouble of altering their language. But he tells us he liked to have his own way and to follow his own taste, and so he would seem to have altered for the mere sake of putting some­thing different. The latter work is of the same kind, scrappy and gossiping. It is partly collected from older writers, and partly the result of his own observations both in Italy and abroad. According to Philostratus (in Vit.} he was scarcely ever out of Italy; but he tells us himself that he travelled as far as Aegypt; and that he saw at Alexandria an ox with five feet. (De Anim. xi. 40 ; comp. xi. 11.) This book would appear to have become a popular and standard work on zoology, since in the fourteenth century Manuel Philes, a Byzantine poet, founded upon it a poem on animals. At the


end of the work is a concluding chapter (errtAo-yos), where he states the general principles on which he has composed his work :—that he has spent great labour, care, and thought in writing it;—that he has preferred the pursuit of knowledge to the pur­suit of wealth ; and that, for his part, he found much more pleasure in observing the habits of the lion, the panther, and the fox, in listening to the song of the nightingale, and in studying the mi­grations of cranes, than in mere heaping up riches and being numbered among the great: — that throughout his work he has sought to adhere to the truth, Nothing can be imagined more deficient in arrangement than this work : he goes from one subject to another without the least link of associ­ation; as (e. g.) from elephants (xi. 15) to dragons (xi. 16), from the liver of mice (ii. 56) to the uses of oxen (ii. 57). But this absence of arrangement, treating things TroiKiAa Trot/aAws, he says, is in­tentional; he adopted this plan to give variety to. the work, and to avoid tedium to the reader. His style, which he commends to the indulgence of critics, though free from any great fault, has no particular merit. The similarity of plan in the two works, with other internal evidences, seems to shew that they were both written by the same Aelian, and not, as Voss and Valckenaer conjec­ture, by two different persons.

In both works he seems desirous to inculcate moral and religious principles (see V. H. vii. 44; De Anim. vi. 2, vii. 10, 11, ix. 7, and Epilog.); and he wrote some treatises expressly on philoso­phical and religious subjects, especially one on Providence (ITer/i Upovoias] in three books (Suidas, s. v. ^AgaffaviffTois), and one on the Divine Mani­festations (Ilepl ®eiwv >Ez>ep76io>;'), directed against the Epicureans, whom he alludes to elsewhere. (Z>6 Anim. vii. 44.) There are also attributed to Aelian twenty letters on husbandry and such-like matters ('AypoixiKal 5E7noToAa2), which are by feigned characters, are written in a rhetorical un­real style, and are of no value. The first edition

*< *

of all his works was by Conrad Gesner, 1556, fol., containing also the works of Heraclides, Polemo, Adamantius and Melampus. The " Varia Historia" was first edited by Camillus Peruscus, Rome, 1545, 4to.; the principal editions since are by Perizonius, Leyden, 1701, 8vo., by Gronovius, Leyden, 1731, 2 vols. 4to., and by Ktihn, Leip­zig, 1780, 2 vols. 8vo. The De Animalium Natura was edited by Gronovius, Lond. 1744, 2 vols. 4to., and by J. G. Schneider, Leipzig, 1784, 2 vols. 8vo. The last edition is that by Fr. Jacobs, Jena, 1832, 2 vols. 8vo. This contains the valuable materials which Schneider had col­lected and left for a new edition. The Letters were published apart from the other works by Aldus Manutius in his " Coliectio Epistoiarum Graecarurn," Venice, 1499, 4to.

The Varia Historia has been translated into Latin by C. Gesner, and into English by A. Fle­ming, Lond. 1576, and by Stanley, 1665; this last has been reprinted more than once. The De Animalium Natura has been translated into Latin by Peter Gillius (a Frenchman) and by Conrad Gesner. It does not appear to have been translated into English.

There has also been attributed to Aelian a work called Kar^yopia rov Tvw&os, an attack on an effeminate man, probably meant for Elagabalus. (Suidas, s. v. "Appey.) [A. A.]

About | First



page #  
Search this site
All non-public domain material, including introductions, markup, and OCR © 2005 Tim Spalding.
Ancient Library was developed and hosted by Tim Spalding of