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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.


Ewen Bowie

The idea that eastern, non-Greek sages living a life close to nature possessed a special sort of wisdom first entered the Greek imaginaire when Alexander’s expedition to India was reported in the narratives of Onesicritus, Megasthenes, and Nearchus. Megasthenes (ap. Strabo distinguished Brahmans (Βραχμᾶνες), royal counsellors (executed by Alexander when he suppressed the revolt of Sambus, whom they had encouraged, Arr. Anab. 6.16.5, 6.17.2), from ascetic “Gymnosophists” or Garmanes (i.e., Buddhist Sramans). Onesicritus claimed to have been sent by Alexander to meet the latter, to have conversed with two called Dandamis and Calanus, and to have requested them to come to Alexander (Strabo 15.1.63–65.715–716, Plut. Alex. 64–65, Arr. Anab. 7.2.2–4). This they did, probably at Taxila, where Aristobulus claimed to have seen an older and a younger gymnosophist standing as they dined at Alexander’s table (Strabo episode has been seen as a fiction of Onesicritus,1 but Arrian’s report of a logos about Alexander meeting Indian sages (Anab.


Anna Tiziana Drago

The collection of fifty fictitious love letters (epistulae amatoriae) subdivided into two books contained in a single Greek manuscript (codex unicus) copied in the south of Italy around 1200 ce and now housed in Vienna (V = Cod. Vindobonensis phil. Graec. 310) has had a curious history. This manuscript identifies its epistolographer as a certain Aristaenetus, but in fact the author’s name is as uncertain as his birthplace and the dates of his career. The corpus might have been composed between the end of the 5th and the beginning of the 6th centuries ce, and its author could be an epistolographer belonging to the literary humanist circles formed in the imperial atmosphere of Constantinople under Justinian I (including Procopius, Agathias, and Paulus Silentiarius). The letters are written from a variety of senders to diverse addressees, including historical or literary figures (often professional epistolographers: Alciphron, Aelian, Philostratus, but also Lucian, Stesichorus, Eratosthenes, Archilochus, and Terpander). Aristaenetus’ epistolary collection has a dominant thematic nucleus: the description, conquest, and defence of love. This thematic nucleus gathers around itself conventional amatory topics: the flame of love; love at first sight; servitium amoris (“love slavery”); love-sickness; the erōtodidaskalos (teacher of love); the paraclausithyron (lover’s lament by a locked door).