Lucius Flavius ​​Arrian (Greek Άρριανός, also Arrian or Arrian of Nicomedia; * by 85-90 AD in Nicomedia in Bithynia, † after 145/146 BC ) was a Greek- Roman politician and historian. He wrote a history book about Alexander the Great, a monograph on India as well as a Diadochengeschichte; he is regarded as the most reliable historian of Alexander. Among other works, including a Parthergeschichte, Arrian in two philosophical writings the thought of his teacher, the Stoic Epictetus was also again.


Arrian was born in Nicomedia in the Roman province of Bithynia. He came from a noble family, who had been admitted to knighthood. The gentile name Flavius ​​derives from the patron, the family owed ​​a Roman citizen; perhaps, these were to Lucius Flavius ​​, the Suffektkonsul the year 33 BC, or only to the Emperor Vespasian. Arrian studied in Nicopolis in the famous Stoic philosopher Epictetus, whose school also prominent members of noble families visited and where he also later Emperor Hadrian met under certain circumstances. About the philosophy of his teacher, he wrote two books in his youth.

At the same time Arrian entered the Imperial service, and served as an officer in the former Celtic province, in Noricum and probably other regions; under Trajan he fought in the Parthian war. Trajan or his successor Hadrian raised him to the senatorial rank. As a member of the senatorial he worked with his friend Hadrian in the Roman imperial administration and went as proconsul in the province of Baetica. At about 129/130, he was Suffektkonsul, in time 131-137 he was governor of the province of Cappadocia and commander of the Roman troops at the border with Armenia; presented for a senator from the Greek East, such a high rank in the Roman military an unusual exception dar. Arrian led by small campaigns and wrote the basis of these experiences a handbook on military strategy. After the death of his patron Hadrian in 138 Arrian moved to Athens and became Athenian citizens. In the year 145/146 he held the office of archon eponymous, which, however, was dropped in the imperial period to a pure voluntary work without political influence. In this phase of life Arrian began to devote himself to the writing of history.


Arrian's literary activity began shortly before the death of Hadrian. His example Xenophon following, he wrote in a simple style works Attic different, especially historical content. Of these, his work on the Alexandrian ( Anabasis Alexandrou ), which is the main source for this period, and delivered a paper on India ( Indiké ). Arrian also wrote a Diadochengeschichte ( Tà metà Aléxandron ) and a Parthergeschichte ( Parthiká ), but they are only survived in fragments. Get Fragmentary are also several smaller writings, including a tactical font ( Taktika ), a battle against the Alans ( Éktaxis Kata Alanon ), an original eight books comprehensive work on Bithynia and a meteorological early work. Fully narrated is also a round trip ( Periplus ) in the region of the Black Sea. In addition, Arrian wrote a treatise on hunting ( Kynegetikós ), with whom he anknüpfte to a same Fachschriftenverlag Xenophon. His philosophical work includes the Doctrinal Discussions ( Diatribaí ) and an excerpt from this custom built, the so-called Little Handbook ( Encheiridion ).

Stylistically Arrian held fast to the prevailing view, to want as detailed as possible mimic the grammar and literary style of the Attic writers of the 5th century. The Atticism Arrian therefore emulates the language of Thucydides and Xenophon. In his philosophical writings, Arrian served, however, the slang of his time, the koine.

Alexander history and Indike

Since we have no contemporary witness of Alexanderzugs more, Arrian's Alexander story is before Curtius Rufus, Diodorus, Trogus Pompeius - delivered in an excerpt at Justin - Plutarch and the main source for the history of Alexander the Great. In addition, probably his work reported total most reliable, although the other Alexander historians provide valuable information and thus supplement Arrian's history.

Arrian Alexander story is divided into seven books and written very sober and in a clear style. It was probably done by Arrian archonship, but probably before 165 The main sources were Aristobulus Arrian of Kassandreia and especially Ptolemy I, who both participated in the Alexandrian and each a ( now lost ) work of history written about it had. Arrian himself claims in the proem of his work that he only where his two main sources differ, weighing up which version appears credible to him. Ptolemy gave probably the basic report on the event history. It's likely that Ptolemy, who mainly described the military events without embellishments, had based its representation on the official Hofberichte (ephemeris ); but even that has been partially doubted. The representation of Aristobulus, however, who was particularly interested in geographic topics should accumulate Arrian's narrative. Other sources Arrian drew complement rather added, such as Nearchus in the later books, although he does not name any names.

The Alexander story, however, is problematic in that Arrian questioned the representation of Ptolemy and Aristobulus little too critical; However, all the Alexander stories were actually designed biased in one direction or another. Ptolemy and Aristobulus seem to have been still strives to be a relatively sober narrative. This also explains their use by Arrian, who apparently wanted to give a legend as free as possible presentation on Alexander, which he also largely succeeded. His work thus represents a counterpoint to the so-called Vulgate tradition of Alexander's life was partly decorated fictionalized and based on Kleitarchos. About the Personality of Alexander Arrian's work explicitly says relatively little, but it was very Arrian weighed; Expressed criticism of Alexander Arrian as well, but only restrained. Its extremely positive assessment comes at the end of the work, among other things expressed, where Arrian's praise of a hero-worship is similar. Possible errors apologizes Arrian and Alexander compares with figures mythical king; human standards are a hero does not do justice, the need to have posted a deity in the world.

Despite its largely uncritical Alexander Arrian image is very valuable for event history. In particular, the German -language research therefore long relied almost exclusively on Arrian. In modern research, the weighting shifts, however, something. So also Diodorus, Plutarch, Curtius, and other sources are now more involved in order to obtain a better overall picture. However, Arrian is well regarded in modern scholarship as a whole and most credible source, although about AB Bosworth partly also practiced quite sharp criticism of his performance.

The "Indian Guide" ( Indiké or also called indicators ) is a supplement to the history of Alexander dar. It also offered the possibility of the extensive new, accessible through the Alexandrian source material for " Wonderland" India can evaluate. Arrian was based above all on the report of Nearchus, Alexander's fleet commander. In the first part but he also used Megasthenes and Eratosthenes of Cyrene. The wrote in the Ionic dialect document deals with the period from train Alexander to "India " to the return of the fleet over the Indus to Susa under the command of Nearchus.


Arrian's "Events after Alexander" included ten books and handed the death of Alexander in 323-319 BC, treating only a short period in some detail. As an important source probably served Hieronymus of Cardia. From the Scriptures only a few fragments have been preserved; addition to a summary of the Byzantine Patriarch Photios, individual text fragments are obtained, which originate from Palimpsestblätter and a papyrus. In the time of the kingdom crisis of the 3rd century the historian Dexippos drew on the work and wrote it out probably.


Arrian described in its comprehensive 17 books Parthergeschichte ( Parthiká ) detail the battles between Romans and Parthians. Although the focus was on the time of Emperor Trajan, Arrian also described the history of the Parthian Empire. Due to the fact that Arrian had access to official documents and personal knowledge of the conditions in the East, the loss of the plant is unfortunate, especially since the sources for the time of Trajan is rather poor anyway. The few fragments still provide important information.

Philosophical writings

The teacher talks represent a collection of diatribes that Arrian on Epictetus put together lectures from his notes. The writing was probably published soon after Epictetus's death, and probably before 138. It forms the main source of the philosophy of the Stoic Epictetus, who wrote no own works. From this work, it was known under different names and with a varying number of books in the ancient world, the first four books have been preserved. For the Diatribensammlung Arrian did not claim his own creative power, but by his own account was intended to preserve the memory of his teacher for yourself, but not to publish these supposedly verbatim records. The research assessed Arrian's claim to deliver Epictetus's teachings literally, very different; partly, it is believed that this is a literary fiction and the doctrinal discussions are essentially Arrian's work.

From the doctrinal discussions Arrian also made ​​a statement, called the hand book. In this extremely popular work, which was much stronger received as the teacher talks, Arrian repeated some idea of ​​doctrinal conversations verbatim, other statements he amends.

Editions and translations

  • Epictetus: Encheiridion ( = Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana 1302). Edited by Gerard Boter, de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2007, ISBN 978-3-11-019503-3.
  • Epictetus: The Discourses as reported by Arrian, the Manual, and Fragments. Edited and trans. by William Abbott Oldfather, 2 volumes ( with Greek text and English translation) Volume 1: Discourses, Books I -II ( Loeb Classical Library No. = 131). Cambridge / Massachusetts and London, 1925 ( reprint 1989), ISBN 978-0-674-99145-3 ( Online).
  • Volume 2: Discourses, Books III -IV. Fragment. Encheiridion ( = Loeb Classical Library No. 218). Cambridge / Massachusetts and London, 1928 (reprinted 1985), ISBN 978-0-674-99240-5 ( Online).
  • Flavius ​​Arrian: Scripta. Edited by Gerhard Wirth and AG Roos, 2 volumes, unchanged reprint of the 2nd edition of 1967/1968, Saur, Munich 2002 ( critical edition ) Volume 1: Anabasis Alexandri ( = Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana 1239 ). ISBN 978-3-598-71239-5.
  • Volume 2: Scripta minora et fragmenta. Adiectae sunt tres tabulae Geographicae et Fragmentum papyri 1284 Societatis Italianae ( = Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana 1242 ). ISBN 978-3-598-71242-5.


  • Albert Brian Bosworth: A historical commentary on Arrian 's History of Alexander. 2 volumes, Oxford University Press and Clarendon Press, Oxford 1980/1995, ISBN 0-19814-828-3 ISBN 0-19814-829-1 or ( comment so far to book 5 completed ).