A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology

Smith, William

A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology. William Smith, LLD, ed. 1890

"the last subject of Rome who composed a profane history in the Latin language," was by birth a Greek, as he himself frequently declares (xxxi. sub fin., 22.8.33, 23.6.20, &c.), and a native of Syrian Antioch, as we infer from a letter addressed to him by Libanius. (See Vales. praef. in Ammian. Marcellin.) At an early age he embraced the profession of arms, and was admitted among the protectores domestici, which proves that he belonged to a distinguished family, since none were enrolled in that corps except young men of noble blood, or officers whose valour and fidelity had been proved in long service. Of his subsequent promotion nothing is known. He was attached to the staff of

Ursicinus, one of the most able among the generals of Constantius, and accompanied him to the East in 350. He returned with his commander to Italy four years afterwards, from thence passed over into Gaul, and assisted in the enterprise against Sylvanus, again followed Ursicinus when despatched for a second time to the East, and appears to have never quitted him until the period of his final disgrace in 360. Ammianus subsequently attended the emperor Julian in his campaign against the Persians, was present at Antioch in 371, when the plot of Theodorus was detected in the reign of Valens, and witnessed the tortures inflicted upon the conspirators. (xxix. 1.24.) Eventually he established himself at Rome, where he composed his history, and during the progress of the task read several portions publicly, which were received with great applause. (Liban. Epist. DCCCCLXXXIII. p. 60, ed. Wolf.) The precise date of his death is not recorded, but it must have happened later than 390, since a reference occurs to the consulship of Neoterius, which belongs to that year.