Dio Chrysostom (/ˈdiːoʊ ˈkrɪsəstəm, krɪˈsɒstəm/; Greek:
Δίων Χρυσόστομος Dion Chrysostomos), Dion of Prusa or
Dio Cocceianus (c. 40 – c. 115 CE), was a Greek orator, writer,
philosopher and historian of the
Roman Empire in the 1st century.
Eighty of his Discourses (or Orations; Λόγοι) are extant, as well
as a few Letters and a funny mock essay "In Praise of Hair", as well
as a few other fragments. His surname Chrysostom comes from the Greek
chrysostomos (χρυσόστομος), which literally means
"golden-mouthed". He should not be confused with the Roman historian
Cassius Dio, nor with the 4th-century bishop
John Chrysostom of
5 Further reading
6 External links
6.1 Texts of Dio
6.2 Secondary material
He was born at Prusa (now Bursa) in the Roman province of Bithynia
(now part of northwestern Turkey). His father, Pasicrates, seems to
have bestowed great care on his son Dio's education and the early
training of his mind. At first he occupied himself in his native
place, where he held important offices, with the composition of
speeches and other rhetorical and sophistical essays, but he later
devoted himself with great zeal to the study of philosophy. He did
not, however, confine himself to any particular sect or school, nor
did he give himself up to any profound speculations, his object being
rather to apply the doctrines of philosophy to the purposes of
practical life, and more especially to the administration of public
affairs, and thus to bring about a better state of things. The Stoic
and Platonist philosophies, however, appear to have had the greatest
charms for him.
He went to
Rome during Vespasian's reign (69-79), by which time he
seems to have got married and had a child. He became a critic of
the Emperor Domitian, who banished him from Rome, Italy, and
Bithynia in 82 for advising one of the Emperor's conspiring
relatives. On the advice of the Delphic oracle, he put on the
clothes of a beggar, and with nothing in his pocket but a copy of
Phaedo and Demosthenes's oration on the Embassy, he lived the
life of a Cynic philosopher, undertaking a journey to the countries in
the north and east of the Roman empire. He thus visited Thrace, Mysia,
Scythia, and the country of the Getae, and owing to the power and
wisdom of his orations, he met everywhere with a kindly reception, and
did much good. He was a friend of Nerva, and when
murdered in 96 AD, Dio used his influence with the army stationed on
the frontier in favour of Nerva. Under Emperor Nerva's reign, his
exile was ended, and he was able to return home to Prusa. He adopted
the surname Cocceianus in later life to honour the support given to
him by the emperor, whose full name was Marcus Cocceius Nerva.
Nerva's successor, Trajan, entertained the highest esteem for Dio,
and showed him the most marked favour. His kindly disposition gained
him many eminent friends, such as
Apollonius of Tyana
Apollonius of Tyana and Euphrates of
Tyre, and his oratory the admiration of all. In his later life Dio had
considerable status in Prusa, and there are records of him being
involved in an urban renewal lawsuit about 111. He probably died a
few years later.
Dio Chrysostom was part of the
Second Sophistic school of Greek
philosophers which reached its peak in the early 2nd century. He was
considered as one of the most eminent of the Greek rhetoricians and
sophists by the ancients who wrote about him, such as
Philostratus, Synesius, and Photius. This is confirmed by
the eighty orations of his which are still extant, and which were the
only ones known in the time of Photius. These orations appear to be
written versions of his oral teaching, and are like essays on
political, moral, and philosophical subjects. They include four
Kingship addressed to
Trajan on the virtues of a
sovereign; four on the character of Diogenes of Sinope, on the
troubles to which men expose themselves by deserting the path of
Nature, and on the difficulties which a sovereign has to encounter;
essays on slavery and freedom; on the means of attaining eminence as
an orator; political discourses addressed to various towns which he
sometimes praises and sometimes blames, but always with moderation and
wisdom; on subjects of ethics and practical philosophy, which he
treats in a popular and attractive manner; and lastly, orations on
mythical subjects and show-speeches. He argued strongly against
permitting prostitution. He also claimed that the epics of Homer
had been translated and were sung in India; this is unlikely to be
true, and there may have been confusion with the
Mahabharata and the
Ramayana, of which there are some parallels in subject matter. Two
orations of his (37 and 64) are now assigned to Favorinus. Besides the
eighty orations we have fragments of fifteen others, and there are
extant also five letters under Dio's name.
He wrote many other philosophical and historical works, none of which
survive. One of these works, Getica, was on the Getae, which the
Suda incorrectly attributes to Dio Cassius.
Hans von Arnim, Dionis Prusaensis quem uocant Chrysostomum quae
exstant omnia (Berlin, 1893–1896).
C. Bost-Pouderon, Dion Chrysostome. Trois discours aux villes (Orr.
33-35) (Salerne, 2006).
C. Bost-Pouderon (ed.), Dion de Pruse dit Dion Chrysostome. Oeuvres
(Or. XXXIII-XXXVI (Paris, CUF, 2011).
Trans. J. W. Cohoon, Dio Chrysostom, I, Discourses 1-11, 1932. Harvard
University Press, Loeb Classical Library:
Trans. J. W. Cohoon, Dio Chrysostom, II, Discourses 12-30, 1939.
Trans. J. W. Cohoon & H. Lamar Crosby, Dio Chrysostom, III,
Discourses 31-36, 1940.
Trans. H. Lamar Crosby, Dio Chrysostom, IV, Discourses 37-60, 1946.
Trans. H. Lamar Crosby, Dio Chrysostom, V, Discourses 61-80.
Fragments. Letters, 1951.
H.-G. Nesselrath (ed), Dio von Prusa. Der Philosoph und sein Bild
[Discourses 54-55, 70-72], introduction, critical edition, commentary,
translation, and essays by E. Amato et al., Tübingen 2009.
^ Dio Chrysostom, Orat. xlvi. 13
^ Dio Chrysostom, Orat. iii. 13
^ Dio Chrysostom, Orat. xiii. 1
^ Dio Chrysostom, Orat. xiii. 9
^ Dio Chrysostom, Orat. xiii. 11
^ Dio Chrysostom, Orat. xii. 16
^ Dio Chrysostom, Orat. xxxvi.; comp. Orat. xiii. 11 ff.
^ Dio Chrysostom, Orat. xlv. 2
^ a b Pliny, Epistles, x. 81
^ Dio Chrysostom, Orat. iii. 2
^ a b Philostratus, Vitae sophistorum i.7
^ Synesius, Dion
^ Photius, Bibl. Cod. 209
^ Dio Chrysostom, Orat. vii.133‑152
^ Dio Chrysostom, Orat. liii. 6-8
^ McEvilley, T., (2002), The Shape of Ancient Thought: Comparative
Studies in Greek and Indian Philosophies, page 387. Allworth
^ Suda, Dion
Eugenio Amato, Xenophontis imitator fidelissimus. Studi su tradizione
e fortuna erudite di Dione Crisostomo tra XVI e XIX secolo
(Alessandria: Edizioni dell'Orso, 2011) (Hellenica, 40).
Eugenio Amato, Traiani Praeceptor. Studi su biografia, cronologia e
fortuna di Dione Crisostomo (Besansçon: PUFC, 2014).
T. Bekker-Nielsen, Urban Life and Local Politics in Roman Bithynia:
The Small World of Dion Chrysostomos (Aarhus, 2008).
P. Desideri, Dione di Prusa (Messina-Firenze, 1978).
A. Gangloff, Dion Chrysostome et les mythes. Hellénisme,
communication et philosophie politique (Grenoble, 2006).
B.F. Harris, "Dio of Prusa", in Aufstieg und Niedergang der Römischen
Welt 2.33.5 (Berlin, 1991), 3853-3881.
C.P. Jones, The Roman World of
Dio Chrysostom (Cambridge, MA, Harvard
University Press, 1978).
Simon Swain, Hellenism and Empire. Language, Classicism, and Power in
the Greek World, AD 50-250 (Oxford, 1996), 187–241.
Dio Chrysostom (Oxford, 2000).
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Dio Chrysostom
Texts of Dio
Complete works at
LacusCurtius (English translation complete; some
items in Greek also)
Dio of Prusa at Livius.Org
Introduction to the Loeb translation at LacusCurtius
ISNI: 0000 0001 2283 5285
BNF: cb12126132c (data)