An English Translation of Claudius Aelianus' Varia Historia with Introduction and Notes
|Author: ||Johnson, Diane|
Claudius Aelianus (c. AD 175 - c. 235), a Roman of Praeneste who chose to write in the archaizing Greek of the authors of the Second Sophistic, earned the epithet "honey tongue" because of the sweetness of his style. In the Varia Historia, a miscellany of anecdotes, lists, apophthegms, biographical sketches, and descriptions of natural wonders, Aelian compiled from various sources data which he felt spoke to the interests and needs of his contemporaries. Scholars have for a long time quarried Aelian's miscellany for information, often untrustworthy, about earlier centuries. But Aelian did not compile his data with the scientific aims of the modern scholar; consequently, he has been scorned for not providing material which in fact he did not set out to present. The present volume presents Aelian in such a way that his program for selection and compilation of information becomes apparent. Considering the range of data, and the voices in which he writes, Aelian's moral focus becomes clear, as does his agenda. Aelian sought to create in the Varia Historia a paedeutic collection of information, material which he felt provided models for the correct response to the Classical literary heritage.