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Nicolaus of Damascus


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Versatile author; friend and historian of Herod (1) the Great; b. c.64 bc of distinguished family, very well‐educated. He became a Peripatetic and met leading figures of his day: he was tutor to the children of Antony (Marcus Antonius) and Cleopatra VII and from 14 bc close adviser of Herod, who employed him on diplomatic missions. Herod also studied philosophy, rhetoric, and history with Nicolaus and encouraged him to write. When Herod incurred Augustus' displeasure on account of his Nabataean campaign (9?), Nicolaus succeeded in placating the princeps in Rome.

Works

(1) Histories, universal history in 144 books from the earliest times to the death of Herod the Great, the most comprehensive work of universal history since Ephorus. Bks. 1–7 dealt with the ancient east (Assyrians, Medes, Lydians, Persians) and early Greece. Only meagre fragments of bks. 8–144 are extant. Bks. 123–4, drawn on by Josephus, contained the history of Herod the Great, for which Nicolaus, despite his tendentious and extenuating presentation, was an excellent primary source: he drew on his own experiences and on the king's memoirs. (2) Life of Augustus, apologetic and panegyric account based on Augustus' autobiography, which reached down to c.25 bc. (3) On My Own Life and Education, autobiography. Education is seen from the viewpoint of Aristotelian ethics (see Aristotle) and compared to ‘a journey to one's own hearth’; an important source for the contemporary system of education.

(1) Histories, universal history in 144 books from the earliest times to the death of Herod the Great, the most comprehensive work of universal history since Ephorus. Bks. 1–7 dealt with the ancient east (Assyrians, Medes, Lydians, Persians) and early Greece. Only meagre fragments of bks. 8–144 are extant. Bks. 123–4, drawn on by Josephus, contained the history of Herod the Great, for which Nicolaus, despite his tendentious and extenuating presentation, was an excellent primary source: he drew on his own experiences and on the king's memoirs. (2) Life of Augustus, apologetic and panegyric account based on Augustus' autobiography, which reached down to c.25 bc. (3) On My Own Life and Education, autobiography.

Subjects: Classical Studies.


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