Friday, November 02, 2012

Author of the day: John the Lydian


Justinian I, depicted on an AE Follis coin
Justinian I, depicted on an AE Follis coin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
John the Lydian or John Lydus (Latin: Joannes Laurentius Lydus; Greek: Ἰωάννης Λαυρέντιος ὁ Λυδός) was a 6th century Byzantine administrator and writer on antiquarian subjects. His works are of interest for specific data about classical events. 

He was born in 490 AD at Philadelphia in Lydia, whence his cognomen "Lydus". At an early age he set out to seek his fortune in Constantinople, and held high court and state offices in the praetorian prefecture of the East under Anastasius and Justinian. In 552 he lost favour, and was dismissed. The date of his death is not known, but he was probably alive during the early years of Justin II (reigned 565-578).

During his retirement he occupied himself in the compilation of works on the antiquities of Rome, three of which have been preserved: De Ostentis (Gr. Περὶ Διοσημείων), on the origin and progress of the art of divination De Magistratibus reipublicae Romanae (Gr. Περὶ ἀρχῶν τῆς Ῥωμαίων πολιτείας), especially valuable for the administrative details of the time of Justinian; the work is now dated to 550 by Michael Maas.[1] De Mensibus (Gr. Περὶ τῶν μηνῶν), a history of the different pagan festivals of the year. The chief value of these books consists in the fact that the author made use of the works (now lost) of old Roman writers on similar subjects. Lydus was also commissioned by Justinian to compose a panegyric on the emperor, and a history of his campaign against Sassanid Persia; but these, as well as some poetical compositions, are lost.

Source: Wikipedia