Alexander Polyhistor

Alexander Polyhistor in Wikipedia

Lucius Cornelius Alexander Polyhistor (Ancient Greek: Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ Πολυΐστωρ) was a Greek scholar who was enslaved by the Romans during the Mithridatic War and taken to Rome as a tutor. After his release, he continued to live in Italy as a Roman citizen. He was so productive a writer that he earned the surname polyhistor. The majority of his writings are now lost, but the fragments that remain shed valuable light on antiquarian and eastern Mediterranean subjects.[1] Life Alexander flourished in the first half of the 1st century B.C. According to the Suda he was a pupil of Crates and a Milesian, whereas Stephanus of Byzantium claims he was a native of Cotiaeum in Lesser Phrygia and a son of Asklepiades, while the Etymologicum Magnum agrees in calling him Kotiaeus.[1] It is possible that two different Alexandroi have been merged or confused. He became a Roman prisoner of war, was sold into slavery to a Cornelius Lentulus as his teacher (paedagogus) and was later freed. As a Roman freedman his name was Cornelius Alexander. The nomen may come from the Corneli Lentuli or from Sulla Felix, as he received the citizenship from Sulla.[2]. He died at Laurentum in a fire which consumed his house, and his wife Helene is said by the Suda to have responded to the news of his loss by hanging herself. Works The Suda makes no attempt to list his works, asserting that he composed books "beyond number". Alexander's most important treatise consisted of forty-two books of historical and geographical accounts of nearly all the countries of the ancient world. These included 5 books On Rome, the Aigyptiaca (at least 3 books), On Bithynia, On the Euxine Sea, On Illyria, Indica and a Chaldæan History. Another notable work is about the Jews (Müller, Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum, iii); this reproduces in paraphrase relevant excerpts from Jewish writers, of whom nothing otherwise would be known. As a philosopher, Alexander wrote Successions of Philosophers, mentioned several times by Diogenes Laertius in his Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers.[3]. None of Alexander's works survive as such: only quotations and paraphrases are to be found, largely in the works of Diogenes Laertius. One of Alexander’s students was Gaius Julius Hyginus, Latin author, scholar and friend of Ovid, who was appointed by Augustus to be superintendent of the Palatine library. From what Laertius describes or paraphrases in his work, Alexander recorded various thoughts on contradictions, fate, life, soul and its parts, perfect figures, and different curiosities, such as advice not to eat beans.

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