Claudius Aelianus considered Macedonians as Greeks

Claudius Aelianus (ca. 175 – ca. 235) (Greek: Κλαύδιος Αἰλιανός), often seen as just Aelian, born at Praeneste, was a Roman author and teacher of rhetoric who flourished under Septimius Severus and probably outlived Elagabalus, who died in 222. He spoke Greek so perfectly that he was called “honey-tongued” (meliglossos); Roman-born, he preferred Greek authors, and wrote in a slightly archaizing Greek himself.

His two chief works are valuable for the numerous quotations from the works of earlier authors, which are otherwise lost, and for the surprising lore, which offers unexpected glimpses into the Greco-Roman world-view.His most important work is “Ποικίλη Ιστορία”(Various History),for the most part preserved only in an abridged form,a miscellany of anecdotes and biographical sketches, lists, pithy maxims, and descriptions of natural wonders and strange local customs, in 14 books, with many surprises for the cultural historian and the mythographer, anecdotes about the famous Greek philosophers, poets, historians, and
playwrights and myths instructively retold.
In chapter XXV of the 2nd book of “Ποικίλη Ιστορία” he speaks of the “fortunate day” of the Greeks, the sixth day of Thargelion (a month of the Athenian calendar) as follows:

  1. So Claudius Aelianus apparently considered Macedonians as Greeks. Otherwise he wouldn’t have included the victory of Alexander among the fortunate events that had befallen the Greeks in the sixth day of Thargelion.

    I only have an objection to the translation of the phrase “ότε καί Δαρείον καθείλεν Αλέξανδρος” as “when Alexander took Darius as prisoner”.

    It’s obviously a mistranslation of καθείλεν (second Aorist of “καθαιρώ”) whose meaning was probably confused by the English scholar with that of the similar sounding verb “είλεν” (second Aorist of “αιρώ“, which can be interpreted as “to take a prisoner”.

    Καθαιρώ/καθείλεν has various different meanings however what fits more in this specific context is “to reduce one’s power”/to depose somebody/to overpower somebody,so the phrase in question should be properly translated either as “when Alexander reduced Darius’ power” or “when Alexander overpowered Darius”. After all Alexander never took Darius prisoner and I don’t see the reason for Claudius Aelianus to write such a blatant historical inaccuracy.

    By Kapetan Doukas

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