LCL 134: xl-xli
been the pupil of Hadrian, Pollux, and a certain Zeno, a writer on rhetoric whom Philostratus does not include in the Lives. He educated the Emperor’s sons, Caracalla and Geta, received the consulship, and was for a short time Governor of Bithynia. Galen, the court physician, praises Severus for the favour shown to Antipater. He starved himself to death after Caracalla’s favour was withdrawn. This was about 212. We may therefore place his birth about 144. Philostratus studied with him before he became an official. Antipater’s marriage with the plain daughter of Hermocrates took place when the court was in the East, but whether Philostratus in his account of this event means the first or the second Eastern expedition of Severus he does not say, so that we cannot precisely date Antipater’s appointment as Imperial Secretary; it occurred about 194 or 197; Kayser prefers the later date. We learn from Suidas that Antipater was attacked by Philostratus the First in an essay, On the Name, or On the Noun. This statement is useful as fixing the date of the father of our Philostratus. The Antipater of the Lives must not be confused with an earlier sophist of the same name mentioned by Dio Chrysostom.
Claudius Aelian, the “honey-tongued,” as Suidas tells us he was called, is the most important of the learned sophists of the third century. He was born at Praeneste towards the close of the second century, and was a Hellenized Roman who, like Marcus Aurelius, preferred to write Greek. He was an industrious collector of curious facts and strange tales, but, in spite of the statement of Philostratus as to the purity of his dialect, he hardly deserves to rank as a writer of Greek prose. Though he claims
to write for “educated ears,” his language is a strange mixture of Homeric, tragic, and Ionic Greek, with the “common” dialect as a basis. He is erudite in order to interest his readers and with no purpose of preserving a literary tradition; and in his extant works he observes none of the rules of rhetorical composition as they were handed down by the sophists. He aims at simplicity, ἀφέλεια, but is intolerably artificial. We have his treatise in seventeen., On Animals, a curious medley of facts and anecdotes designed to prove that animals display the virtues and vices of human beings; and the less well preserved Varied History, a collection of anecdotes about famous persons set down without any attempt at orderly sequence or connexion. Two religious treatises survive in fragments. In choosing to be a mere writer rather than an epideictic orator he really forfeited the high privilege of being called a sophist.