- Steven D. Smith
Aelian (Claudius Aelianus, 161/77–230/8 CE), an influential writer of miscellaneous works in Rome during the reign of the Severan emperors, helped shape the literary landscape of the so-called Second Sophistic. There are two sources for his life, one a contemporary notice by Philostratus in his Lives of the Sophists, and the other a brief entry in the 10th-centurySuda lexicon. According to the former, Aelian ‘was a Roman, but he spoke and wrote Attic Greek’ (VS 624). A student of the sophist Pausanias of Caesarea and an admirer of Herodes Atticus, Aelian himself declined to declaim in public and instead committed himself to writing and composition. He died without any children, and he claimed never to have travelled outside of Italy. The Suda supplies additional information: Aelian was born in Praeneste (modern Palestrina) near Rome and he was a high priest (ἀρχιερεύς), though the Byzantine source is silent about what god Aelian served.