Aulus Gellius - Encyclopedia

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AULUS GELLIUS (c. A.D. 130-180), Latin author and grammarian, probably born at Rome. He studied grammar and rhetoric at Rome and philosophy at Athens, after which he returned to Rome, where he held a judicial office. His teachers and friends included many distinguished men - Sulpicius Apollinaris, Herodes Atticus and Fronto. His only work, the Noctes Atticae, takes its name from having been begun during the long nights of a winter which he spent in Attica. He afterwards continued it at Rome. It is compiled out of an Adversaria, or commonplace book, in which he had jotted down everything of unusual interest that he heard in conversation or read in books, and it comprises notes on grammar, geometry, philosophy, history and almost every other branch of knowledge. The work, which is utterly devoid of sequence or arrangement, is divided into twenty books. All these have come down to us except the eighth, of which nothing remains but the index. The Noctes Atticae is valuable for the insight it affords into the nature of the society and pursuits of those times, and for the numerous excerpts it contains from the works of lost ancient authors.

Editio princeps (Rome, 1469); the best editions are those of Gronovius (1706) and M. Hertz (1883-1885; editio minor, 1886, revised by C. Hosius, 1903, with bibliography). There is a translation in English by W. Beloe (1795), and in French by various hands (1896). See Sandys, Hist. Class. Schol. i. (1906), 210.

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