Arrian was born in Nicomedia (modern-day Izmit, Turkey) the provincial capital of Bithynia. Dio, the great Greek historian, called him “Flavius Arrianus Nicomediansis.” There is controversy about the date of his birth (around AD 90) and that of his formal retirement, but the strength of his analysis and the power of his writing are unmistakably tied to that tumultuous period. Arrian was made a Consul of the Empire around 130 AD. His family was from the provincial aristocracy of Greek stock, but his full name, L. Flavius Arrianus, indicates that he was a Roman citizen, suggesting his family had sworn allegiance to the Romans generations before, perhaps at the time of the Roman conquest some 170 years before.
Sometime during the 2nd century AD (117 to 120 AD) while in Epirus, Arrian attended the lectures of Epictetus of Nicopolis, the renowned Jesuit and Stoic Philosopher who had been born a slave. All that is known about the life of Epictetus is due to Arrian, in that he produced a Encheiridion (Handbook) of Epictetus’ philosophy. After his college years at Epirus, he traveled to Athens, while there he became known as the young Xenophon, as a consequence of the similarity of his relation to Epictetus as Xenophon had to Soctrates.
For a period, some time about 126 AD, he grew to understand hardball [politics at the Imperial level, hanging out in Emperor Hadrian’s posse commitatus. Through influence he was appointed to the Roman Senate, with more to come. First, he was consul suffectus (132 AD) then was advanced to be Governor of Cappadocia by his crony, the Emperor. He held that job for six years. When he retired, Arrian went to live in Athens, where he became archon and Priest of Demeter and Persaphone in 145 or 146 (EJ chinnock shows. He moved to assisted living in the reign of Emperor Marcus Auerlius, where he remained for the next couple millennia.
Arrian refers to himself as the second Xenophon, without false modesty. His acumen, penetrating insight, and sober perspective made him a natural for the electronic pages of the Daily, and we are delighted to offer him a spot of the digital rostrum.