1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lydus, Joannes Laurentius

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LYDUS (“The Lydian”), JOANNES LAURENTIUS, Byzantine writer on antiquarian subjects, was born at Philadelphia in Lydia about A.D. 490. At an early age he set out to seek his fortune in Constantinople, and held high court and state offices under Anastasius and Justinian. In 552 he lost favour, and was dismissed. The date of his death is not known, but he was probably alive during the early years of Justin II. (reigned 565–578). During his retirement he occupied himself in the compilation of works on the antiquities of Rome, three of which have been preserved: (1) De Ostentis (Περὶ διοσημειῶν), on the origin and progress of the art of divination; (2) De Magistratibus reipublicae Romanae (Περὶ ἀρχῶν τῆς Ῥωμαίων πολιτείας), especially valuable for the administrative details of the time of Justinian; (3) De Mensibus (Περὶ μηνῶν), a history of the different festivals of the year. The chief value of these books consists in the fact that the author made use of the works (now lost) of old Roman writers on similar subjects. Lydus was also commissioned by Justinian to compose a panegyric on the emperor, and a history of his successful campaign against Persia; but these, as well as some poetical compositions, are lost.

Editions of (1) by C. Wachsmuth (1897), with full account of the authorities in the prolegomena; of (2) and (3) by R. Wünsch (1898–1903); see also the essay by C. B. Hase (the first editor of the De Ostentis) prefixed to I. Bekker’s edition of Lydus (1837) in the Bonn Corpus scriptorum hist. Byzantinae.