Cassius Dio’s Bithynian Background

Tønnes Bekker-Nielsen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Located at the interface of Europe and Asia and blessed with a favourable climate, Roman Bithynia was a prosperous province with a diverse economy and home to important cities, one of which was Dio’s hometown Nicaea at the eastern end of lake Ascanius. For generations the Cassii had ranked among the leading families of Nicaea. Yet Dio does not have a great deal to say about events in Bithynia and when he does, the action more often takes place in Nicomedia – the provincial capital – than in his native city. Even in the last books of the History, which deal with contemporary history, there is nothing to suggest that Dio drew on local knowledge or Bithynian informants to any significant extent; from his perspective as a member of the senatorial order, Rome was the best vantage point from which to observe and record current events. Dio’s focus is on the emperor(s), and when Bithynia appears in his History, it is almost invariably due to the presence of an emperor or a pretender to the imperial throne. While Dio’s narrative of the battle of Nicaea (AD 193) reveals his first-hand knowledge of the region’s topography, it contains little local colour or local history.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBrill¹s Companion to Cassius Dio
EditorsJesper Majbom Madsen, Andrew G. Scott
Place of PublicationLeiden
PublisherBrill
Publication date2023
Pages21-47
Chapter1
ISBN (Print)978-90-04-52417-0
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-04-52418-7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023
SeriesBrill's Companions to Classical Studies
ISSN1872-3357

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