1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Herodianus

HERODIANUS, Greek historian, flourished during the third century A.D. He is supposed to have been a Syrian Greek. In 203 he was in Rome, where he held some minor posts. He does not appear to have attained high official rank; the statement that he was imperial procurator and legate of the Sicilian provinces rests upon conjecture only. His historical work (Ἡρωδιανοῦ τῆς μετὰ Μάρκον βασιλείας ἱστοριῶν βιβλία ὀκτώ) narrates the events of the fifty-eight years between the death of Marcus Aurelius and the proclamation of Gordianus III. (180–238). The narrative is of special value as supplementing Dion Cassius, whose history ends with Alexander Severus. His work has the value that attaches to a record written by one chronicling the events of his own times, gifted with ordinary powers of observation, indubitable candour and independence of view. But while he gives a lively account of external events—such as the death of Commodus and the assassination of Pertinax—the barbarian invasions, the spread of Christianity, the extension of the franchise by Caracalla are unnoticed. The dates are often wrong, and little attention is paid to geographical details, which makes the narrative of military expeditions beyond the borders of the empire difficult to understand. Herodian has been accused of prejudice against Alexander Severus. His style, modelled on that of Thucydides and unreservedly praised by Photius, is on the whole pure, though somewhat rhetorical and showing a fondness for Latinisms.

Extensive use has been made of Herodianus by later chroniclers, especially the “Scriptores historiae Augustae” and John of Antioch. His history was first translated into Latin at the end of the 15th century by Politian. The most complete edition is by G. W. Irmisch (1789–1805), with elaborate indices, but the notes are very diffuse; critical editions by I. Bekker (1855), L. Mendelssohn (1883); see also C. Dändliker.