▪ Greek rhetorician
born AD 314, Antioch, Syria
died 393

      Greek Sophist and rhetorician whose orations and letters are a major source of information on the political, social, and economic life of Antioch and of the eastern part of the Roman Empire in the 4th century.

      After beginning his teaching career in Constantinople and Nicomedia, Libanius went to Antioch (354), where his school soon became famous. Devoted to the Classical authors in both teaching and writing, he tried to maintain the Greek tradition, and, as a friend of the emperor Julian, he attempted to live and write as though Christianity did not exist, though he knew and esteemed individual Christians—among whom were probably St. Basil (Saint Basil the Blessed) and St. John Chrysostom (Chrysostom, Saint John). Libanius's works include more than 50 orations of various types, of which the first is especially famous for its autobiographical character. Also surviving are about 50 declamations and other writings intended for use in schools (progymnasmata), as well as more than 1,500 letters of great historical interest.

Additional Reading
Glanville Downey, A History of Antioch in Syria from Seleucus to the Arab Conquest (1961, reprinted 1974); J.H.W.G. Liebeschütz, Antioch: City and Imperial Administration in the Later Roman Empire (1972, reissued 2000); George A. Kennedy, A New History of Classical Rhetoric (1994); Raffaella Cribiore, The School of Libanius in Late Antique Antioch (2007); Isabella Sandwell, Religious Identity in Late Antiquity: Greeks, Jews, and Christians in Antioch (2007).

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Universalium. 2010.

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