Life

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

What little is known of Appian’s (A-pee-uhn) life comes from his own writings and letters of his patron, Marcus Cornelius Fronto. He witnessed a “war” against Jews in Egypt, probably by Emperor Trajan in 116/117, and served as an administrator in Alexandria. After moving to Rome, he acted as a “pleader of cases,” using rhetorical skills he probably learned as a child; such a position implies equestrian status. With Fronto’s help, he was named procurator by Emperor Antoninus Pius. He is best known for his Romaica (n.d.; History of Rome’s Wars, 1912-1913). Written in Greek and from the point of view of the subject peoples rather than the conquerors, it is organized ethnographically rather than chronologically. As a writer, he depended on earlier sources, several of which are no longer extant. More narrative than analytical in his style, he emphasizes financial and administrative matters more than other Roman historians. Twenty-four books survived into the early Middle Ages, but only nine complete and seven fragmentary ones remain.

Influence

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Especially important are his discussions of the Third Punic War (149-146 b.c.e.) and the early first century b.c.e.

Additional Resources

(Literature and the Ancient World, Critical Edition)

Appian. Appian’s Roman History. Vol. 4. Translated by Horace White. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1972.

Gowing, Alain M. The Triumviral Narratives of Appian and Cassius Dio. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992.

Grant, Michael. Greek and Roman Historians. New York: Routledge, 1995.