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Callisthenes of Olynthus (in Greek Καλλισθένης; ca. 360-328 BC) was a Greek historian. He was the son of Hero and Proxenus of Atarneus, which made him the great nephew of Aristotle by his sister Arimneste. They first met when Aristotle tutored Alexander the Great. Through his great-uncle's influence, he was later appointed to attend Alexander the Great on his Asiatic expedition as a professional historian.

During the first years of Alexander's campaign in Asia, Callisthenes showered praises upon the Macedonian conqueror. As the king and army penetrated further into Asia, however, Callisthenes' tone began to change. He began to sharply criticize Alexander's adoption of oriental customs, with special scorn for Alexander's growing desire that those who presented themselves before him perform the servile ceremony of proskynesis. Having thereby greatly offended the king, Callisthenes was accused of being privy to a treasonable conspiracy and thrown into prison, where he died from torture or disease. His melancholic end was commemorated in a special treatise (Callisthenes or a Treatise on Grief) by his friend Theophrastus, whose acquaintance he made during a visit to Athens.

Callisthenes wrote an account of Alexander's expedition up to the time of his own execution, a history of Greece from the Peace of Antalcidas (387) to the Phocian war (357), a history of the Phocian war, and other works, all of which have perished. However, his account of Alexander's expedition was preserved long enough to be mined as a direct or indirect source for other histories that have survived. Polybius scolds Callisthenes for his poor descriptions of the battles of Alexander. [1]

A quantity of the more legendary material coalesced into a text known as the Alexander Romance, the basis of all the Alexander legends of the Middle Ages, originated during the time of the Ptolemies, but in its present form belongs to the 3rd century AD. Its author is usually known as pseudo-Callisthenes, although in the Latin translation by Julius Valerius Alexander Polemius (beginning of the 4th century) it is ascribed to a certain Aesopus; Aristotle, Antisthenes, Onesicritus and Arrian have also been credited with the authorship.

There are also Syrian, Armenian and Slavonic versions, in addition to four Greek versions (two in prose and two in verse) in the Middle Ages (see Krumbacher, Geschichte der byzantinischen Litteratur, 1897, p. 849). Valerius's translation was completely superseded by that of Leo, arch-priest of Naples in the 10th century, the so-called Historia de Preliis.

Contents

References

  1. ^ Polybius, XII.17 "Polybius dedicated to Callisthenes a whole chapter in his 12th book called "On the Inexperience of Callisthenes as to the Provision of Deeds of War"
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Primary sources

Secondary sources

  • J. Zacher, Pseudo-Callisthenes (1867);
  • W. Christ, Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur (1898), pp. 363, 819;
  • Edward Meyer, article in Ersch and Gruber's Allgemeine Encyklopädie; ,
  • A. Ausfeld, Zur Kritik des griechischen Alexanderromans (Bruchsal, 1894);
  • A. Westermann, De Callisthene Olynthio et Pseudo-Callisthene Commentatio (1838-1842);
  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
  • See Scriptores rerum Alexandri Magni (by C. W. Müller, in the Didot edition of Arrian, 1846), containing the genuine fragments and the text of the pseudo-Callisthenes

External links


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CALLISTHENES (c. 360-328 B.C.), of Olynthus, Greek historian, a relative and pupil of Aristotle, through whose recommendation he was appointed to attend Alexander the Great in his Asiatic expedition. He censured Alexander's adoption of oriental customs, inveighing especially against the servile ceremony of adoration. Having thereby greatly offended the king, he was accused of being privy to a treasonable conspiracy and thrown into prison, where he died from torture or disease. His melancholy end was commemorated in a special treatise (KaXXu OEVns ij 7rEpi 7rEvOovs) by his friend Theophrastus, whose acquaintance he made during a visit to Athens. Callisthenes wrote an account of Alexander's expedition, a history of Greece from the peace of Antalcidas (387) to the Phocian war (3S7), a history of the Phocian war and other works, all of which have perished. The romantic life of Alexander, the basis of all the Alexander legends of the middle ages, originated during the time of the Ptolemies, but in its present form belongs to the 3rd century A.D. Its author is usually known as pseudo-Callisthenes, although in the Latin translation by Julius Valerius Alexander Polemius (beginning of the 4th century) it is ascribed to a certain Aesopus; Aristotle, Antisthenes, Onesicritus and Arrian have also been credited with the authorship. There are also Syrian, Armenian and Slavonic versions, in addition to four Greek versions (two in prose and two in verse) in the middle ages (see Krumbacher, Geschichte der byzantinischen Litteratur, 18 97, p. 8 49). Valerius's translation was completely superseded by that of Leo, arch-priest of Naples in the 10th century, the socalled Historia de Preliis. See Scriptores rerum Alexandri Magni (by C. W. Muller, in the Didot edition of Arrian, 1846), containing the genuine fragments and the text of the pseudo-Callisthenes, with notes and introduction; A. Westermann, De Callisthene Olynthio et Pseudo-Callisthene Commentatio (1838-1842); J. Zacher, Pseudo-Callisthenes (1867); W. Christ, Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur (1898), pp. 363, 819; article by Edward Meyer in Ersch and Gruber's Allgemeine Encyklopadie; A. Ausfeld, Zur Kritik des griechischen Alexanderromans (Bruchsal, 1894); Plutarch, Alexander, 52-55; Arrian, Anab. iv. 1014; Diog. Laertius v. r; Quintus Curtius viii. 5-8; Suidas s.v. See also Alexander The Great (ad fin.). For the Latin translations see Teuffel-Schwabe, Hist. of Roman Literature (Eng. trans.), § 399; and M. Schanz, Geschichte der rOmischenLitteratur, iv. I., p. 43.


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