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Appian (ăpˈēən), fl. 2d cent., Roman historian. He was a Greek, born in Alexandria. He held various offices in Alexandria, was an advocate in Rome, and then imperial procurator in Egypt. His history of the Roman conquests, from the founding of Rome to the reign of Trajan, is more a collection of monographs on specific events than a continuous history. Although strongly biased in favor of Roman imperialism, it reproduces many documents and sources that otherwise would have been lost. Of the 24 books, written in Greek, only Books VI–VII and Books XI–XVII have been fully preserved.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



Died in the 170’s. Historian of ancient Rome.

A Greek by nationality, Appian was born in Alexandria. After gaining Roman citizenship, he was admitted to the equestrian order. He then served as a treasury lawyer in Rome and subsequently as treasury procurator in Egypt. Appian is the author of the Greek-language Roman History, which covers the period from the city’s founding to the beginning of the second century. His main idea was to demonstrate the greatness of Roman power and the justice and expediency of the establishment of Roman rule over other peoples. Constructed on the geographic-ethnic principle, the work consists of 24 books that are basically devoted to the historical interrelationships between Rome and individual peoples. Almost all of books 6–9 and 11–17 have come down to us. Books 18–24 have been completely lost and are known only by their titles; fragments of the other books have been preserved. Book 1 (Kings), Book 2 (Italians), and Book 3 (Samnites) are devoted to the history of Italy. Book 4 deals with Gaul. Books 5–8 discuss the wars between Rome and Carthage. Book 9 (Macedonians), Book 10 (Hellenes), Book 11 (Syrians), and Book 12 (Mithridates) cover the Roman conquest of Greece and the Hellenistic states. The civil wars in Rome, from the Gracchi to Julius Caesar, are studied in books 13–17. Books 18–21 deal with the conquest of Egypt. Book 22 traces the history of the empire from Augustus to Trajan, and Book 23 (Dacians) and Book 24 (Arabians) are devoted to the wars of Trajan.

Appian’s work is marked by realism, simplicity of style, and a factual approach. However, the question of Appian’s sources is subject to dispute. The author’s admiration for the might of Roman power and his monarchical tendencies did not prevent him from striving to “hunt out the material base of these civil wars” (K. Marx, in K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 30, p. 126) and from noting the role of slaves in the political and civil struggle of Rome.


In Russian translation:
“Iberiisko-rimskie voiny (Iberika).” Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1939, no. 2.
“Mitridatovy voiny.” Ibid., 1946, no. 4.
“Siriiskie dela.” Ibid., 1946, no. 4.
“Rimskaia istoriia.” Ibid., 1950, nos. 2–4.
Grazhdanskie voiny. Leningrad, 1935.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.