1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Priscus (historian)

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PRISCUS, of Panium in Thrace, Greek sophist and historian, lived during the 5th century A.D. He accompanied Maximin the ambassador of Theodosius the Younger, to the court of Attila (448). During the reign of Marcian (450–457) he also took part in missions to Arabia and the Egyptian Thebaid. Priscus was the author of an historical work in eight books (Βυζαντιακἠ Ἱστορία), probably from the accession of Attila to that of Zeno (433–474). Only fragments of the work remain, but the description of Attila and his court and the account of the reception of the Roman ambassadors is a most valuable piece of contemporary history. Priscus’s style is pure, and his impartiality and trustworthiness entitle him to an honourable place among the writers of his time.

Fragments and life in C. W. Müller, Fragmenta hisloricorum graecorum, iv. 69–110; v. 24–26, ed. B. G. Niebuhr in Bonn, Corpus Scriptorum hist. byzantinae (1829), vol. vi., and L. Dindorf in Historici graeci minores (1870), vol. i. For the embassy to Attila see Gibbon, Decline and Fall, ch. 34.