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Claudius Aelianus

(c. 175 - c. 235 CE)

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Claudius Aelianus was born Claudius Aelianus Praenestinus around 175 CE in Praeneste. He was a Roman writer and rhetoric teacher who operated during the time of Emperor Septimius Severus and probably survived Elagabalus.

Three of his works have survived to our times: “On the Characteristics of Animals”, “Various History” and “Letters”. Supposedly, after the death of Heliogobal, Aelianus wrote the pamphlet “The accusation of the woman.” The Book of Suda states that he was also a high priest. Claudius Aelianus boasted that he never left Italy, nor had he ever boarded any ship. He was one of those people who like to work in the comfort of their own home. Aelianus spoke Greek brilliantly, which is why he was called “the honey-mouth”. Aelianus was a modest man, he earned the reputation of a “sophist” although Aelianus himself believed that he did not deserve such an honorable name. His works are now of great value thanks to the numerous citations from the works of older authors that have not otherwise survived, and thanks to the surprising knowledge that gives him the opportunity to learn about the Greco-Roman world. In the book “On the Properties of Animals”, Aelianus tells about various extraordinary stories and about the habits of various animals. We can also learn from him about the anatomy of various animals.

In “Various History” we learn a lot of interesting things about various famous characters and what laws were in force in various Greek cities. Aelianus also tells us many stories that he has mostly heard from other writers. In addition, Aelianus also wrote “Letters”, a collection of fictional letters, mostly love letters, often inspired by comedies written by Greek writers.

He died around 235 CE in Rome. Philostratus reports that Aelianus lived more than sixty years and had no wife or children.

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