For the composer see: Johann Stobäus
Johann Stobäus
Johann Stobäus was a North German composer.Stobäus was born at Graudenz. From 1599 to 1608 he was a pupil of Johann Eccard, the Kapellmeister of Königsberg. Then from 1601 a bassist in the princely Kapelle from 1602 Kantor at Königsberg Cathedral. Then in 1626 he succeeded Eccard as...

Joannes Stobaeus , from Stobi
Stobi was an ancient town of Paeonia, later conquered by Macedon, and later turned into the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia Salutaris . It is located on the main road that leads from the Danube to the Aegean Sea and is considered by many to be the most famous archaeological site in the...

 in Macedonia
Macedonia (Roman province)
The Roman province of Macedonia was officially established in 146 BC, after the Roman general Quintus Caecilius Metellus defeated Andriscus of Macedon, the last Ancient King of Macedon in 148 BC, and after the four client republics established by Rome in the region were dissolved...

, was the compiler of a valuable series of extracts from Greek authors. The work was originally divided into two volumes containing two books each. The two volumes became separated in the manuscript tradition, and the first volume became known as the Extracts (Eclogues) and the second volume became known as the Anthology (Florilegium). Modern editions now refer to both volumes as the Anthology. The Anthology contains extracts from hundreds of writers, especially poets, historians, orators, philosophers and physicians. The subjects covered range from natural philosophy
Natural philosophy
Natural philosophy or the philosophy of nature , is a term applied to the study of nature and the physical universe that was dominant before the development of modern science...

, dialectics, and ethics
Ethics, also known as moral philosophy, is a branch of philosophy that addresses questions about morality—that is, concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime, etc.Major branches of ethics include:...

, to politics
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

, economics
Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The term economics comes from the Ancient Greek from + , hence "rules of the house"...

, and maxims of practical wisdom. The work preserves fragments of many authors and works who otherwise might be unknown today.


Of his life nothing is known. He derived his surname apparently from being a native of Stobi
Stobi was an ancient town of Paeonia, later conquered by Macedon, and later turned into the capital of the Roman province of Macedonia Salutaris . It is located on the main road that leads from the Danube to the Aegean Sea and is considered by many to be the most famous archaeological site in the...

 in North Macedonia
Macedonia (Roman province)
The Roman province of Macedonia was officially established in 146 BC, after the Roman general Quintus Caecilius Metellus defeated Andriscus of Macedon, the last Ancient King of Macedon in 148 BC, and after the four client republics established by Rome in the region were dissolved...

. The age in which he lived cannot be fixed with accuracy. He quotes Hierocles
Hierocles of Alexandria
Hierocles of Alexandria was a Greek Neoplatonist writer who was active around AD 430.He studied under Plutarch at Athens in the early 5th century, and taught for some years in his native city. He seems to have been banished from Alexandria and to have taken up his abode in Constantinople, where he...

 who was active in the early 5th century, and probably he did not live very long after him, as he quotes no writer of a later date. From his silence in regard to Christian
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 authors, it has been inferred that he was not a Christian. His name, though, would rather indicate a Christian, or at least the son of Christian parents.


His anthology is a very valuable collection of extracts from earlier Greek writers, which he collected and arranged, in the order of subjects, as a repertory of valuable and instructive sayings. In most of the manuscripts there is a division into three books, forming two distinct works; the first and second books forming one work under the title Physical and Moral Extracts , the third book forming another work, called Florilegium
In medieval Latin a florilegium was a compilation of excerpts from other writings. The word is formed the Latin flos and legere : literally a gathering of flowers, or collection of fine extracts from the body of a larger work. It was adapted from the Greek anthologia "anthology", with the same...

or Sermones, . The extracts were intended by Stobaeus for his son Septimius, and were preceded by a letter briefly explaining the purpose of the work and giving a summary of the contents. It is evident from this summary, preserved in Photius's Bibliotheca (9th century), that the work was originally divided into four books and two volumes, and that surviving manuscripts of the third book consist of two books which have been merged together.

As each of the four books is sometimes called Anthologion, it is probable that this name originally belonged to the entire work. The full title, according to Photius, was Four Books of Extracts, Sayings and Precepts (Eklogon, apophthegmaton, hypothekon biblia tessara). At some time subsequent to Photius the two volumes were separated, and the two volumes became known to Latin Europe as the Eclogae and the Florilegium respectively. Modern editions have dropped these two titles and have reverted to calling the entire work the Anthology .

The introduction to the whole work, treating of the value of philosophy and of philosophical sects, is lost, with the exception of the concluding portion; the second book is little more than a fragment, and the third and fourth have been amalgamated by altering the original sections. From these and other indications it seems probable that what we have is only an epitome
An epitome is a summary or miniature form; an instance that represents a larger reality, also used as a synonym for embodiment....

 of the original work, made by an anonymous Byzantine
Byzantine usually refers to the Roman Empire during the Middle Ages.Byzantine may also refer to:* A citizen of the Byzantine Empire, or native Greek during the Middle Ages...

 writer of much later date. Each chapter of the four books is headed by a title describing its matter. Stobaeus quoted more than five hundred writers, generally beginning with the poets, and then proceeding to the historians, orators, philosophers, and physicians. The works of the greater part of these have perished. It is to him that we owe many of our most important fragments of the dramatists. He has quoted over 500 passages from Euripides
Euripides was one of the three great tragedians of classical Athens, the other two being Aeschylus and Sophocles. Some ancient scholars attributed ninety-five plays to him but according to the Suda it was ninety-two at most...

, 150 from Sophocles
Sophocles is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides...

, and over 200 from Menander
Menander , Greek dramatist, the best-known representative of Athenian New Comedy, was the son of well-to-do parents; his father Diopeithes is identified by some with the Athenian general and governor of the Thracian Chersonese known from the speech of Demosthenes De Chersoneso...


Books 1 and 2

The first two books ("Eclogues") consist for the most part of extracts conveying the views of earlier poets and prose writers on points of physics, dialectics, and ethics. We learn from Photius that the first book was preceded by a dissertation on the advantages of philosophy, an account of the diffe­rent schools of philosophy, and a collection of the opinions of ancient writers on geometry, music, and arithmetic. The greater part of this introduc­tion is lost. The close of it only, where arithmetic is spoken of, is still extant. The first book was divided into sixty chapters, the second into forty-six, of which the manuscripts preserve only the first nine. Some of the missing parts of the second book (chapters 15, 31, 33, and 46) have, however, been recovered from a 14th-century gnomology. His knowledge of physics — in the wide sense which the Greeks assigned to this term — is often untrustworthy. Stobaeus betrays a tendency to confound the dogmas of the early Ionian philosophers, and he occasionally mixes up Platonism
Platonism is the philosophy of Plato or the name of other philosophical systems considered closely derived from it. In a narrower sense the term might indicate the doctrine of Platonic realism...

 with Pythagoreanism
Pythagoreanism was the system of esoteric and metaphysical beliefs held by Pythagoras and his followers, the Pythagoreans, who were considerably influenced by mathematics. Pythagoreanism originated in the 5th century BCE and greatly influenced Platonism...

. For part of the first book and much of the second, it is clear that he depended on the (lost) works of the Peripatetic philosopher Aetius
Aetius (philosopher)
Aetius was a 1st or 2nd century doxographer and Eclectic philosopher.None of Aetius' works survive today, but he solves a mystery about two major compilations of philosophical quotes...

 and the Stoic
STOIC was a variant of Forth.It started out at the MIT and Harvard Biomedical Engineering Centre in Boston, and was written in the mid 1970s by Jonathan Sachs...

 philosopher Arius Didymus
Arius Didymus
Arius Didymus of Alexandria, was a Stoic philosopher and teacher of Augustus. Fragments of his handbooks summarizing Stoic and Peripatetic doctrines are preserved by Stobaeus and Eusebius.-Life:...


Books 3 and 4

The third and fourth books ("Florilegium") are de­voted to subjects of a moral, political, and econo­mic kind, and maxims of practical wisdom. The third book originally consisted of forty-two chap­ters, and the fourth of fifty-eight. These two books, like the larger part of the second, treat of ethics; the third, of virtues and vices, in pairs; the fourth, of more general ethical and political subjects, frequently citing extracts to illustrate the pros and cons of a question in two successive chapters.


The first edition of books 1 and 2 was that by G. Canter (Antwerp, 1575). There were subsequent editions made by A. H. L. Heeren
Arnold Hermann Ludwig Heeren
Arnold Hermann Ludwig Heeren was a German historian.He was born at Arbergen, near Bremen. He studied philosophy, theology and history at the University of Göttingen, and then travelled in France, Italy and the Netherlands...

 (Gottingen, 1792—1801, in 4 vols. 8vo.), and Thomas Gaisford
Thomas Gaisford
Thomas Gaisford was an English classical scholar.He was born at Iford Manor, Wiltshire, and entered the University of Oxford in 1797, becoming successively student and tutor of Christ Church. In 1811, he was appointed Regius Professor of Greek in the University...

 (Oxford, 1850). The first edition of books 3 and 4 was that edited by Trincavelli
Vettore Trincavelli
Vettore Trincavelli , was an eminent physician, but is most famous as the editor of some of the first editions of the Greek classics.-Life:He was born at Venice in 1496...

 (Venice, 4to. 1536). Three editions were published by Conrad Gessner
Conrad Gessner
Conrad Gessner was a Swiss naturalist and bibliographer. His five-volume Historiae animalium is considered the beginning of modern zoology, and the flowering plant genus Gesneria is named after him...

 (Zurich, 1543; Basle, 1549; Zurich; 1559), and another by Gaisford (Oxford, 1822, 4 vols. 8vo.). The first edition of the whole of Stobaeus together was one published at Geneva in 1609. The next major edition of the whole corpus was that by Augustus Meineke
Augustus Meineke
Johann Albrecht Friedrich August Meineke , German classical scholar, was born at Soest in Westphalia.After holding educational posts at Jenkau and Danzig , he was director of the Joachimsthal Gymnasium in Berlin from 1826 to 1856. He died at Berlin on 12 December 1870...

 (Leipzig, 1855–1864). The modern edition is that by Curt Wachsmuth and Otto Hense (Berlin, 1884–1912, 5 volumes). Wachsmuth and Hense's edition attempts, as far as possible, to restore the text of the Anthology as it was written by Stobaeus.

Further reading

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