[image ALT: Much of my site will be useless to you if you've got the images turned off!]
Bill Thayer

[image ALT: Cliccare qui per una pagina di aiuto in Italiano.]

[Link to a series of help pages]
[Link to the next level up]
[Link to my homepage]

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!

Dio Chrysostom

 p. ix  Introduction

See also the fuller, more interesting, and more relevant introduction to Dio at Livius.Org.

Dio's Life

Dio Cocceianus Chrysostomus, a relative of Dio Cassius the historian, was born of well-to‑do parents in the city of Prusa in Bithynia about A.D. 40 and died about 120. From his father Pasicrates, who owing to his services to the city was given high honours after his death, Dio and his brothers inherited a large estate which consisted of pasture land, vineyards, houses in the city, and other landed property. But his father had lived beyond his means and in addition spent large sums upon the city, so that his estate was heavily encumbered and it took Dio a number of years to pay off his share of the debt. No doubt Dio received a good education in the subjects then taught, and one of these would be the art of public speaking. In this he showed great ability, and no doubt delivered some of his lighter speeches such as the Praise of a Gnat to his admiring townsmen. Occasionally he appeared in court in behalf of his friends. Then later he began to travel, and in the reign of Vespasian he reached Rome.

At this period of his life Dio was a sophist​1 and opposed to the philosophers. Against one of them in particular, the Stoic Musonius, he seems to have directed his polemics, but finally he was converted by him and became one of the company of Stoics  p. x in Rome. In the reign of Domitian, however, this period of his life came somewhat abruptly to an end. He had been too frank in his criticism of the Emperor and had been intimate with a Roman in high position who was executed on some charge or other. For these reasons Dio was banished from Rome and Italy and also from his native Bithynia, probably in the year 82. Now he could no longer depend upon his property in Prusa for support and, whether he wished it or not, had to make a practical test of the tenets of the Cynics and lead the simple life. Wearing but a threadbare cloak he wandered penniless from place to place, as a rule avoiding the large cities. To procure sustenance he was forced at times to do the humblest manual labour, and the hardships then endured injured his health. In the course of these wanderings he reached Borysthenes, a flourishing colony of Miletus north of the Black Sea and not far from the modern Odessa. He penetrated also to Viminacium, a Roman permanent camp on the Danube, and lived among the savage Getae, whose history he wrote.

On the death of Domitian in 96, Dio's exile came to an end, and in the summer of the next year he delivered an oration before the Greeks assembled at Olympia. Then he came to Rome and was kindly received by the new Emperor Nerva. Dio took advantage of this to ask for some favours in behalf of his native town, but was prevented by illness from being wholly success­ful. He returned, however, to Prusa with the news of such favours as had been granted and then headed an embassy sent by the citizens to express their thanks to the Emperor. This embassy, however, found Nerva  p. xi dead and Trajan Emperor in his stead. Upon him Dio made a good impression and a deep friendship was formed between the two men. Dio was with the Emperor before he set out on his Dacian campaign, and met Trajan on his triumphant return in 102, when he was received with high marks of favour. After this Dio travelled to Alexandria and other places, returning to his native Prusa towards the end of the year or the beginning of the next. At home Dio undertook to carry out some plans for beautifying the city at great cost to himself, but became involved in a lawsuit in connection with the demolishing of some buildings to make room for new structures and had to plead his case before the imperial legate, C. Plinius Secundus, in the year 111‑112. This​a is the last we hear of Dio. His wife and a son predeceased him.

When Dio returned from exile, he had put from him the ideal of the sophists of his time,​2 who believed that the eloquence in and of itself was the highest thing, and he had reached settled convictions as a moralizing philosopher from which he never departed.​b He was not an original thinker, but drew his philosophy from Plato, the Stoics and Cynics, and he felt it to be his life-work to proclaim these teachings to all, high and low, prince and peasant, and to arouse the national feeling of the Greeks by reminding them of their glorious past. By informal  p. xii addresses to small groups and by set addresses to larger assemblies he reproved people for their faults and sought to show them the better way much like a modern preacher.

His style is simple, graceful, and noble. He took as his models Plato, Demosthenes, Xenophon, and Antisthenes, but did not get altogether free from ordinary Hellenistic Greek (ἡ κοινή).

Dio's Works

Eighty discourses credited to Dio have come down to us, but the thirty-seventh (The Corinthian) and the sixty-fourth (the second declamation On Fortune) are now assigned to his pupil Favorinus. The others, with the exception of the eighteenth, which is a letter to a high official, perhaps Nerva, as to what authors to read, are either speeches or essays of varying character and purpose, which may be divided into three classes — sophistic, political, and moral. Of a purely sophistic nature, in my opinion, is the eleventh discourse, in which Dio attempts to prove that Troy was not captured by the Greeks. Of a similar nature was his Eulogy of Hair, which has been preserved in full by Synesius, who wrote in reply a Praise of Baldness; and of the same character too, no doubt, were his Eulogy of a Parrot and his Praise of a Gnat. The latter three undoubtedly belong to his earlier years; about the other opinions may differ.

The political discourses belong chiefly to Dio's mature years, and the most important ones were written after his return from exile. They deal with the affairs of Bithynia, the quarrels between his fellow-citizens, and the rivalry of interests between  p. xiii Prusa and the neighbouring towns of Nicaea and Nicomedia. Of such a type, for example, is the forty-seventh. These speeches are of great interest to the historian because they give him information about the state of Asia Minor at this period.

The third class, the moral discourses, belong to the last period of Dio's life and are the best of all. In them Dio gave rein to his true bent, which was to enforce moral teachings. In them he showed whatever originality he possessed.

One letter of Dio's has already been mentioned. In addition five others are printed by Hercher in his Epistolographia Graeca, of which the first two may be genuine.

Dio also wrote philosophical and historical works, none of which is extant. Of the former sort were the following: Whether the Universe is Perishable (εἰ φθαρτὸς ὁ κόσμος), A Eulogy of Hercules and Plato (ἐγκώμιον Ἡρακλέους καὶ Πλάτωνος), and To Plato in Defence of Homer (ὑπὲρ Ὁμήρου πρὸς Πλάτωνα) in four books. To these perhaps should be added Against the Philosophers (κατὰ τῶν φιλοσόφων) and To Musonius (πρὸς Μουσώνιον), works written before Dio was converted to philosophy by Musonius. Of historical works he wrote On Alexander's Virtues (περὶ τῶν Ἀλεξάνδρου ἀρετῶν) in eight books and a History of the Getae (τὰ Γετικά), which was probably written immediately after his return from exile.


The following are the chief manuscripts of Dio:

U — Urbinas 124, 11th century.

B — Parisinus 2958, 14th century.

 p. xiv  V — Vaticanus graec. 99, 11th century.

M — Meermannianus 67, of Leyden, Holland, 16th century.

P — Palatinus graec. 117, 14th and 15th centuries.

H — Vaticanus graec. 91, 13th century.

M1 — The part of the Meermannian MS. which belongs to the third class of MSS.

P2 — The other copy of the 65th oration which is found in P.

E — Laurentianus 81, 2, 14th century.

T — Marcianus 421, 15th century.

Y — Marcianus 422, 15th century.

C — Parisinus 3009, 16th century.

I — Parisinus 2924, 15th and 15th centuries.

W — Vindobonensis philos. graec. 168.

As late as the third century Dio's orations were in circulation in single rolls. According to the arrangement of these rolls the MSS. are divided into three classes. The first class has them in the order in which Photius read them, the second class in the order in which they appear in this edition, while the third class contains only part of them in a different order.

Von Arnim holds that UB of the first class and VM of the second class are more closely related to one another than to PH of the third class, while Sonny, on the other hand, thinks that the second and third classes are closely related and widely separated from the first one, and that the readings of the third class which Arnim considered early and true were interpolated by a clever scribe.

 p. xv  Bibliography


According to Fabricius the Editio princeps was published by Dionysius Paravisinus in Milan, 1476. It has disappeared. The first one still extant and containing all the orations is that of Franciscus Turrisanus, Venice, 1551 (?).

The others in chronological order are those of:

Morel, F., Paris, 1604. Contains the Latin translation of Thomas Naogeorgius (Kirchmaier).

Reiske, J. J., Leipzig, 1784. New edition 1798, published by his wife.

Geel, J., Leyden, 1840. A special edition of the twelfth oration with commentary and with notes on the rest of the orations.

Emperius, A., Braunschweig, 1844.

Dindorf, L., Teubner edition in 2 vols., Leipzig, 1857.

Arnim, H. von, edition in 2 vols., Berlin, 1893, 1896.

Budé, Guy de, Teubner edition in 2 vols., Berlin, 1916, 1919.


Filelfo, F., translated the eleventh oration into Latin in 1428. Printed at Cremona in 1492.

Naogeorgius, T. (Kirchmaier), Latin translation of all the orations, Basel, 1555, Venice, 1585.

Kraut, K., Dion Chrysostomos aus Prusa übersetzt, Ulm, 1901. 40 orations translated.

François, L., Dion Chrysostome, Deux Diogéniques (IV De Regno, Fabula Libyca) en Grec et en Français, Paris, 1922. Has Introduction of 42 pages giving history of the text.

 p. xvi  Waters, W. E., The Twelfth Oratio of Dio, A Translation, in the Colonnade, Vol. XIV, 1922.

Budé, Guy de, Dion Chrysostome traduit, Corbeil, 1927.

Books, Dissertations, etc., that deal with Dio.

Arnim, H. von, Leben und Werke des Dio von Prusa, Berlin, 1898.

Bruns, J., De Dione Chrysostomo et Aristotele Critica et Exegetica, Kiel, 1892.

Lemarchand, L., Dion de Pruse — les Oeuvres d'avant l'Exil,º Paris, 1926.

Martha, C., Les Moralistes sous l'Empire Romain, 7th ed., Paris, 1900.

Montgomery, W. A., Dio Chrysostom as a Homeric Critic, Baltimore, 1901.

Norden, E., Die Antike Kunstprosa, Berlin, 1923.

Schmid, W., Der Atticismus, Vol. I, Stuttgart, 1887, and in Pauly-Wissowa, Real-Encyclopädie, Stuttgart, 1903, under Dion Cocceianus.

Sonny, A. Analecta ad Dionem Chrysostomum, Kiew, 1896. (Contains among other things the scholia on Dio of Arethas, Archbishop of Caesarea.)

Vaglimiglio, M., La Critica Letteraria di Dione Crisostomo (Contributi alla Storia della Critica Letteraria in GreciaI), Bologna, 1913.

Weber, E., De Dione Chrysostomo Cynicorum Sectatore, Gotha, 1887.

Wegehaupt, J., De Dione Chrysostomo Xenophontis Sectatore, Gotha, 1896.

For a fuller bibliography of the literature on Dio see the preface of Emperius' edition, which gives an account of everything on Dio published up to his time, Schmid in Bursian's Jahresbericht for the years 1894‑1904, and Münscher for the years 1905‑1915.

The Loeb Editor's Notes:

1 See page xi.º

2 In the first century of our era Rhetoric began to displace Philosophy in esteem, and by the time of Hadrian this movement, which is called the New or Second Sophistic, reached its height. Its adherents believed that the orator, and not the philosopher, represented the highest type of man, and that the content of the oration did not matter so much as did the rhetorical skill shown by the speaker.

Thayer's Notes:

a Letters, X.81 (85).

b Jona Lendering, in his already-mentioned introduction to Dio, traces this notion to Synesius; but denies it altogether: for him, Dio remained a sophist all his life — he just got better at it.

[image ALT: Valid HTML 4.01.]

Page updated: 18 Oct 14