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.


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

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.