Phlegon of Tralles

Phlegon, of Tralles in Asia Minor, Greek writer and freedman of the emperor Hadrian, lived in the 2nd century.

His chief work was the Olympiads, an historical compendium in sixteen books, from the 1st down to the 229th Olympiad (776 BC to AD 137), of which several chapters are preserved in Eusebius' Chronicle, Photius and Syncellus.

Two small works by him are extant:

  • On Marvels, containing some stories about ghosts, prophecies by heads, monstrous births (Siamese twins), hemaphrodites and giant skeletons.
  • On Long-lived Persons, a list of Italians who had passed the age of 100, taken from the Roman censuses.

Other works ascribed to Phlegon by Suidas are a description of Sicily, a work on the Roman festivals in three books, and a topography of Rome:

"Phlegon of Tralles, freedman of Augustus Caesar, but some say of Hadrian: historian. He wrote Olympiads in 16 books. Up to the 229th Olympiad they contain what was done everywhere. And these in 8 books: Description of Sicily; On long-lived and marvelous persons, On the feasts of the Romans 3 books, On the places in Rome and by what names they are called, Epitome of Olympic victors in 2 books, and other things.

"Of this Phlegon, as Philostorgius says, to relate fully in detail what befell with the Jews, while Phlegon and Dio mentioned [these events] briefly and made them an appendix to their own narrative. Since this man does not exhibit at all prudently those who would lead to piety and other virtues, as those others do not either. Josephus, on the contrary, is like one who fears and takes care not to offend the [sc.pagan] Greeks."


  • Karl Otfried Müller, Frag. hist. graec., iii
  • O Keller, Rerum naturalium scriptores, i. (1877)
  • H Diels, "Phlegons Androgynenorakel" in Sibyllinische Bücher (1890).
  • Phlegon of Tralles' Book of Marvels. Translated with an introduction and commentary by William Hansen. University of Exeter Press (1996) pp.xvi + 215. Review


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