Biographies OLYNTHOS (Ancient city) HALKIDIKI - GTP - Greek Travel Pages

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Callisthenes, 370-327 B.C.

Callisthenes (Kallisthenes). A Greek historian, born at Olynthus about B.C. 360. He was a relation of Aristotle, from whom he received instruction at the same time as Alexander the Great. He accompanied Alexander on his Asiatic campaign, and offended him by refusing to pay him servile homage after the Persian fashion, and by other daring exhibitions of independence. The consequence was that the king threw his friend into prison on the pretext that he was concerned in a conspiracy against his life. Callisthenes died in captivity in B.C. 328, in consequence, probably, of maltreatment. Of his historical writings, particularly those dealing with the exploits of Alexander, only fragments remain; but he was always ranked among the most famous historians. Indeed, his reputation as the companion of Alexander and the historian of his achievements maintained itself so well that he was made responsible in literature for the romantic narrative of Alexander's life which grew up in the following centuries. This was translated into Latin towards the end of the third century a.d by Iulius Valerius, and became the main authority for the mediaeval adaptations of the myth of Alexander.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Apr 2003 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Callisthenes (Kallisthenes), a philosopher, born at Olynthus. His mother, Hero, was a cousin of Aristotle's, and by him Callisthenes was brought up, studying under him at Stageira, together, as we may infer, with Alexander, and certainly with Theophrastus, with whom Aristotle is said to have contrasted him, saying, that Theophrastus needed the rein, but Callisthenes the spu. When Alexander set forth on his Asiatic expedition, B. C. 334, he took Callisthenes with him by Aristotle's recommendation. The latter, however, was aware of the faults of his kinsman's character, of his total want of tact and prudence, and of his wrong-headed propensity to the unseasonable exhibition of his independent spirit; and against these he warned him to guard in his intercourse with the king. The warning was give in vain. Callisthenes became indignant at Alexander's adoption of oriental customs, and especially at the requirement of the ceremony of adoration, which he deemed derogatory to free Greeks and Macedonians; and it may be that he was the more open in the expression of his sentiments, because of the opposite extreme of supple flattery adopted by his opponent Anaxarchus. When Alexander was overwhelmed with remorse for the murder of Cleitus, both these philosophers were sent to console him; but the suggestions of Callisthenes, though apparently on this occasion more judicious than usual, were quite eclipsed by the bold adulation of Anaxarchus, who openly affirmed, that "whatever kings did, must therefore of necessity be lawful and just". Several anecdotes are recorded by Arrian and Plutarch, illustrative of the freedom of language in which Callisthenes indulged, and of his coarse and unconciliating demeanour -qualities which, while they alienated the king from him and procured him a number of enemies, rendered him also popular with many who looked on Alexander's innovations with a jealous eye; and the young men in particular are said to have flocked to hear his discourses, regarding him as the only free-spirited man in the royal retinue. It was this which ultimately proved fatal to him. When the plot of Hermolaus and others to assassinate Alexander was discovered, Callisthenes was involved in the charge. Aristobulus and Ptolemy indeed both asserted in their histories that Hermolaus and his accomplices, when under the torture, had named him as the chief instigator of their attempt; but this is rendered at least doubtful by a letter on the subject from Alexander himself to Craterus, which is preserved by Plutarch (Alex. 55), and in which the sufferers are expressly said to have denied that any one was privy to their design. It would seem more probable that the suspicions of Alexander were excited or revived, after the death of the traitors, by the suggestions of the enemies of Callisthenes, acting on a mind already exasperated against him. Every rash expression he had ever used, every rhetorical common-place he had ever uttered on the patriotism and glory of regicides, were raked up and made to tell against him. In another letter, written by Alexander to Antipater, subsequently to the one above-mentioned, and also quoted by Plutarch the king expresses his intention of "punishing the sophist and those who sent him out", the last words being, as Plutarch thinks, a clear allusion to Aristotle. The mode in which Callisthenes was put to death (about B. C. 328) is variously reported. Even the contemporary writers, Ptolemy and Aristobulus, differed on the point. Aristobulus recorded, that he was carried about in chains and died of disease; Ptolemy, that he was tortured and crucified. The former account, however, seems to agree with that of Chares of Mytilene, who was eisangeleus, or lord-in-waiting, to Alexander and who related that he was kept in confinement with the intention of bringing him ultimately to trial in the presence of Aristotle; but that, after an imprisonment of seven months, he died of a disgusting disease arising from his excessive corpulence. The accounts preserved in Justin and Diogenes Laertius (one of which is a perversion of the other, while the former is clearly a romance) are entitled to less credit (Arrian, Anab. iv. 10-14; Plut. Alex. 52-55, Sull. 36; Curt. viii. 5-8; Just. xii. 6, 7, xv. 3; Diog. Laert. v. 4, 5, 39; Menag. ad Diog. Laert. v. 4, 5; Suidas, s. v. Kallisthenes).
  Some manuscripts are still extant, professing to contain writings of Callisthenes; but they are spurious, and none of his works have come down to us. Besides an account of Alexander's expedition (which he arrogantly said would be the main support of the conqueror's glory, and which is referred to in several places by Plutarch and Strabo), he also wrote a history of Greece, in ten books, from the peace of Antalcidas to the seizure of the Delphic temple by Philomelus (B. C. 387-357). Cicero mentions too a work of his on the Trojan war. The loss, however, of his writings we have not much reason to regret, if we may trust the criticisms passed on them by those to whom they were known. Thus Polybius censures him for his unskilfulness in his relation of military affairs; Cicero finds fault with his style as fitted rather for rhetorical declamation than for history, and contrasts it with that of Xenophon; and Strabo speaks disparagingly of his accuracy and veracity. He seems indeed to have been far more a rhetorician than either a philosopher or a historian, and, even as a rhetorician, to have had more of the spirit of Isocrates than of his own great master. His readiness and fluency, no less than his extreme indiscretion, are illustrated by the anecdote given by Plutarch (Alex. 53) of his speaking with great applause in praise of the Macedonians at a banquet, and then, on Alexander's challenging him to take the other side, launching forth into the bitterest invective against them. In philosophy he probably followed Aristotle, so far indeed as he threw himself into any system at all. The recension of Homer (he apo narthekos), kept by Alexander in a precious casket, and usually ascribed to Aristotle, was made, according to Strabo (xiii.), by Callisthenes and Anaxarchus (Diod. iv. 1, xiv. 117, xvi. 14; Cic. ad Fam. v. 15, ad Q. Fratr. ii. 12, de Orat. ii. 14, de Dix. i. 34, ii. 25; Strab. xi., xii., xiv, xvii.; Plut. Alex. 27, 33; Polyb. xii. 17-21; Suidas, l. c.) .

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Ephippus, (Ephippos), of Olynthus, a Greek historian of Alexander the Great. It is commonly believed, though no reason is assigned, that Ephippus lived about or shortly after the time of Alexander. There is however a passage in Arrian (Anab. iii. 5.4) which would determine the age of Ephippus very accurately, if it could be proved that the Ephippus there mentioned is identical with the historian. Arrian says, that Alexander before leaving Egypt appointed Aeschylus (the Rhlodian) and Ephippus ton Chalkideos, superintendants (episkopoi) of the administration of Egypt. The reading ton Chalkideos, though adopted by the recent editors of Arrian, is not in all MSS., and some editions read Chalkidona or Chalkedona; but if we might emend Chalkideaa, we should have reason for supposing that the person mentioned by Arrian is the same as Ephippus of Olynthus, for Olynthus was the principal town in Chalcidice, and Ephippus night just as well be called a native of Olynthus as of Chalcidice. If the Ephippus then in Arrian be the same as the historian, he was a contemporary of Alexander and survived him for some time, for he wrote an account of the king's burial. The work of Ephippus is distinctly referred to by Athenaeus only, though Diodorus and others also seem to have made use of it. Athenaeus calls it in some passages peri tes Alexandron kai Hephaistionos metallages, and in others he has taphes or teleutes instead of metallages, so that at all events we must conclude that it contained an account of the burial of Alexander as well as of his death. From the few fragments still extant, it would appear that Ephippus described more the private and personal character of his heroes than their public careers. (Athen. iii., iv., x. , xii.) It should be remarked that by a singular mistake Suidas in his article Ephippus gives an account of Ephorus of Cumae. Pliny (Elench. lib. xii., xiii.) mentions one Ephippus among the authorities he consulted upon plants, and it is generally believed that he is a different person from our historian; but all the writers whom Pliny mentions along with him, belong to the period of Alexander, so that it is by no means improbable that he may be Ephippus of Olynthus. All that is known about Ephippus and the fragments of his work, is collected by R. Geier, in his Alexandri Magni Histor. Scriptores, actate suppares, Lips. 1844.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Oct 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks



Euphantus, (Euphantos), of Olynthus, a Pythagorean philosopher and tragic poet, who lived a little later than the period of the tragic Pleiad. He was the disciple of Eubulides of Miletus, and the instructor of Antigonus I. king of Macedonia. He wrote many tragedies, which were well received at the games. He also wrote a very highly esteemed work, peri Basileias, addressed to Antigonus, and a history of his own times : he lived to a great age. (Diog. Laert. ii. 110, 141.) The Euphantus whose history is quoted by Athenaeus (vi.) must have been a different person, since he mentioned Ptolemy III. of Egypt. (Vossius, de Hist. Graec., ed. Westermann; Welcker, die Griech. Tragoed.)

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Oct 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks



Andronicus (Andronikos), of Olinthus, who is probably the same as the son of Agerrhus mentioned by Arrian (Anab. iii. 23), was one of the four generals appointed by Antigonus to form the military council of the young Demetrius, in B. C. 314. He commanded the right wing of Demetrius' army at the battle of Gaza in 312, and after the loss of the battle, and the subsequent retreat of Demetrius, was left in command of Tyre. He refused to surrender the city to Ptolemy, who, however, obtained possession of it, but spared the life of Andronicus, who fell into his hands. (Diod. xix. 69, 86)


Apollonides. An Olynthian general who used his influence at Olynthus against Philip of Macedonia. The king, with the assistance of his intriguing agents in that town, contrived to induce the people to send Apollonides into exile. (Demosth. Philip. iii. pp. 125, 128.) Apollonides went to Athens, where he was honoured with the civic franchise; but being found unworthy, he was afterwards deprived of it. (Demosth. c. Neaer.)


Epicyides. Of Olynthus, a general under Ophellas of Cyrene, who took Thimbron prisoner at Teuchira. (Arr. ap. Phot. p. 70, a.)

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