Alexander, Polyhistor

, surnamed Polyhistor, on account of his great learning, and Cornelius, because he had been the slave of Cornelius Lentulus, was eminent as a philosopher, geographer, and historian. According to Suidas, he was originally of Miletum, but Stephen of Byzantium thinks he was a native of Coup, a town in Phrygia. He was taken prisoner in one of the battles of Mithridates, and purchased by Cornelius Lentulus, who employed him to educate his children, but afterwards gave him his liberty. He lived in the time of Sylla, about the year 85 B. C. He lost his life by an accidental fire; and his wife Helen, shocked at the catastrophe, committed suicide. Few men, according to Eusebius, were at that time possessed of so much learning and genius as Alexander Polyhistor. He wrote forty-two works on different subjects, particularly on the history of the nations of the East, of which a few fragments are extant. Stephen of Byzantium quotes his works on the history of Bithynia, Caria, Syria, and other places. Athenaeus mentions his description of the island of Crete, and Plutarch his history of the musicians of Phrygia. Diogenes | Laertius ascribes to him a work on the succession of philosophers, and another, commentaries of Pythagoras. But all these have perished, and his memory lives only in the pages of Suidas, Eusebius, Athenæus, and Pliny.1


Vossius Hist. Græc.—Moreri.—Biographie Universelle.