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Aelian’s Historical Miscellany is a pleasurable example of light reading for Romans of the early third century. Offering engaging anecdotes about historical figures, retellings of legendary events, and enjoyable descriptive pieces, Aelian’s collection of nuggets and narratives appealed to a wide reading public.
Here then are anecdotes about the famous Greek philosophers, poets, historians, and playwrights; myths instructively retold; moralizing tales about heroes and rulers, athletes and wise men; reports about food and drink, different styles in dress, lovers, gift giving, entertainments, religious beliefs, and death customs; and comments on Greek painting. Some of the information is not preserved in any other source. Underlying it all are Aelian’s Stoic ideals as well as this Roman’s great admiration for the culture of the Greeks (whose language he borrowed for his writings).