The Thirty-Second Discourse: to the People of Alexandria

This Discourse was delivered before the people of Alexandria in their great theatre. Public meetings were not infrequently held in Greek theatres. The purpose of this particular meeting is not known, but the great length of Dio’s address and the seeming patience with which his audience listened to him lend colour to the supposition that Dio was known to be the bearer of an important message, and the people had assembled especially to receive it. Arnim, who argues with plausibility that the speech was delivered in the reign of Trajan, regards Dio as being, in fact if not in name, the emissary of that emperor. Several passages recall thoughts and phrases found in the four Discourses on Kingship, which are thought to have been addressed to Trajan, and Dio speaks as one who enjoys the friendship of the emperor.

Our Discourse is notable for the frankness with which the speaker attacks the foibles and vices of the populace for which the Alexandria of that day was so notorious. Not all the allusions can be explained with certainty, for the history of the period is none too well documented. The very scarcity of contemporary documents, however, lends especial value to the testimony of Dio. Modern writers have drawn heavily upon his statements.

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.dio_chrysostom-discourses_32_people_alexandria.1940