Arrian's Bithynica (Photius' Excerpt)

Arrian of Nicomedia (c.87 - after 145): Greek historian and senator of the Roman empire, author of several historical studies. His best-known work is the Anabasis, which deals with Alexander the Great. Arrian is the author of various other philosophical and historical texts.

Photius' seal

On this page, you will find a Byzantine excerpt of Arrian's Bithynica, made by Photius (c.815-897). He was one of the greatest scholars of the Byzantine world, and patriarch of Constantinople between 858-867 and 878-886. One of his main publications is the Myrobiblion, a collection of 280 excerpts of all kinds of literature on every possible subject. They were a present to his brother, who had not been there when Photius and his friends read those texts. Photius quotes, summarizes, and excerpts various sources: the Acts of the Councils, the stories about martyrs, but also pagan authors, which would otherwise be unknown. The excerpts and summaries are, therefore, of very great importance to modern classicists and historians.

The text of Photius' excerpts from Arrian's Bithynica is offered here in the translation by J.H. Freese.

The Bithynica

[1] Read the same author's Bithynica in eight books, containing a detailed account of the mythical and general history of Bithynia.

[2] It is a history of his own country, dedicated to it as a patriotic offering. For he tells us definitely in this work that he was born in Nicomedia, brought up and educated there, and held, the office of priest of Demeter and her daughter, to whom the city was sacred. He mentions various works of his on other subjects, such as the career of the Corinthian Timoleon in Sicily, and the memorable deeds of Dion the Syracusan, who freed Syracuse and the whole of Sicily from the second Dionysius, the son of the first, and from the barbarians, whom Dionysius had introduced to support his tyranny.

[3] It appears that the history of his country was the fourth work he wrote, being written after the histories of Alexander the Great, Timoleon, and Dion.

[4] Certainly from the time when he first took to a literary career he had intended to treat of this subject, but the work took some time to complete owing to the lack of material; at least, this is the reason he himself gives for the delay in its production. He begins, as stated, with mythical history and goes down to the death of the last Nicomedes, who at his death left his kingdom to the Romans, who had never had a king since the expulsion of the Tarquins.

This page was created in 2006; last modified on 15 July 2020.