Nicholas of Damascus

Nicholas of Damascus


Born in Damascus in 64 B.C.; died in the beginning of the first century of the Common Era. Greek historian.

Nicholas was an adviser to the king of Judea, Herod I. He later lived at the imperial court in Rome.

Nicholas’ works have come down to us in fragments, including a universal history in 144 books, Life of Caesar, On My Own Life and Upbringing, and Collection of Remarkable Customs. Of special interest is his history, the first books of which are devoted to the history and mythology of the countries of the East, the last to the events of the seventh through fourth centuries B.C. in the Mediterranean. A large part of the history has been lost.

Nicholas’ Life of Caesar was written to glorify Emperor Augustus. It is the only source of information about Augustus’ childhood and youth. The fragments of the Collection of Remarkable Customs give us an idea of the everyday life and legal relations of various ancient peoples. The greatest number of fragments are preserved in the works of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, as well as in the works of Strabo and Flavius Josephus. Nicholas’ poetic and philosophical works have not been preserved.


Jacoby, F. Die Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker, vol. 2 (A). Berlin, 1926. Pages 324–420; vol. 2 (C), Berlin, 1926. Pages 261–96.
In Russian translation:
In Vestnik drevnei istorii, 1960, nos. 3–4.
References in periodicals archive ?
He also used pseudo-Aristotelian works such as the Liber de causis, the De plantis of Nicholas of Damascus in the version by Alfred of Sareshel, and Alkindi's De quinque substanciis, as well as the translations of Aristotle's writings on the natural sciences by James of Venice, Michael Scot and Gerard of Cremona, sometimes accompanied by the commentaries of Averroes.