Extant literary texts from AD 30 to AD 100

I sometimes hear people of limited education argue that because no “secular first century historians” (sic) mention Jesus, this proves he never existed (!).  I usually respond by asking who specifically these historians are, whereupon I get only silence.

But, religious issues aside, wouldn’t it be really interesting to have a list of all the extant texts written by non-Christian writers between 30 and 100AD?  Indeed wouldn’t such lists be almost an education in ancient literature and the classical heritage, listing one century at a time?

I’m not sure that I have the resources to investigate this, but I thought that I would start to compile a few authors.  Corrections and contributions welcome!

  • Aristonicus of Alexandria (? reign of Tiberius), On critical signs in the Iliad and the Odyssey; On ungrammatical works. (Fragments)
  • Antiochus of Athens (uncertain, might be in our period), Thesaurus (astrological work, extant in epitome and fragments)
  • Ps.Chion of Heraclea (uncertain, might be in our period), Letters (an epistolary novel).
  • Apollonius of Tyana (d.120), Letters (doubtful), Apoltelemata (extant in Syriac, doubtful magical text).  All this material may be 2nd century, or indeed much later.
  • Musonius Rufus (fl. reign of Nero), Discourses (extracts)
  • Anonymus Londiniensis, (papyrus P. Lond. gr. inv. 137 of medical text based on Aristotle)
  • Erotianus (reign of Nero, 60’s AD), Sayings of Hippocrates (medical work)
  • Various recensions of the Life of Aesop are probably first century.
  • Longinus, On the sublime.  Philosophical work, perhaps 1st century.
  • Severus the Iatrosophist, (a medical work)
  • Heraclitus the grammarian, Homeric problems (ca. 100AD)
  • Philo (d. ca. AD 50), [philosophical works]
  • Celsus Medicus (d. ca. AD 50), On medicine.
  • Scribonius Largus, Compositions (ca. AD 47).  A medical work.
  • Dioscorides (d. ca. AD 90), On medical materials, a handbook of herbs.
  • Seneca the Younger (d. AD 65), 12 Philosophical essays, 9 tragedies, Apocolocyntosis, 124 Letters.
  • Cornutus (fl. ca. 60 AD), stoic philosopher, Compendium of Greek theology. On enunciation and orthography (fragment).
  • Teucer of Babylon in Egypt (uncertain but quoted in c.2), On the 12 signs of the zodiac; other astrological fragments.
  • Phaedrus (d. AD 54), Fables
  • Persius (d. AD 62), Satires (poems)
  • Lucan (d. AD 65), Pharsalia (history of Caesar-Pompey civil war), Praise of Piso (panegyric).
  • Petronius (d. AD 66), Satyricon (fragmentary)
  • Hero of Alexandria (d. AD 70), Metrica (on trigonometry); Pneumatica (on machines).  Mid first century?
  • Pliny the Elder (d. AD 79), Natural History
  • Quintillian, Rhetorical works (ca. 93 AD)
  • Statius (d. AD 96), Silvae, other poems.
  • Martial (d. AD 104), Epigrams (mainly the reign of Domitian, plus a little later)
  • Juvenal, Satires.
  • Josephus, Jewish War, Antiquities (AD 93), Life, Against Apion.
  • Plutarch (d. 120 AD), Moralia (80-odd essays), Parallel Lives.  Probably all written in retirement; but the Lives are just too late, being written between 100-120AD.  The Moralia come in our period, just.
  • Cleomedes the astronomer (uncertain, may be later), On the circular motion of the celestial bodies.
  • Tacitus (d. AD 117), Agricola, Germania (both AD 98).  The Dialogus, Annals and Histories were composed from 100 AD on.
  • Philippus of Thessalonica (1st c.), epigrams (72 of them in the Greek Anthology).
  • Chariton, Chaereas and Callirhoe (mid 1st c. or later), a novel.
  • Onasander, Strategikos.  On the duties of a general.  Later than 49 AD.
  • Hyginus Gromaticus (reign of Trajan, started 98 AD; surveyor), fragments of a work on legal boundaries.
  • Frontinus (d. AD 103), On aqueducts, (ca. 95 AD).  On strategems (military tactics).
  • Caesius Bassus (reign of Nero), On poetic metres (fragments only).
  • Valerius Flaccus (d. AD 90), Argonautica (ca. AD 80?), poem on the argonauts.
  • M. Valerius Probus (reign of Nero), grammarian.  On abbreviations (fragment).
  • Silius Italicus (d. AD 101), epic poet.  Punica, written under Domitian.
  • Velleius Paterculus (d. AD 30 or 31), History, of Tiberius’ German wars.
  • Rufus of Ephesus, On kidney disease , close to 100 AD (medical writer; other works also)

Any more?  This is mostly Romans, so we need more Greeks. 

Updates: Epictetus died ca. 135, and his notes were published by his pupil Arrian after his death, so he doesn’t count.  Plutarch seems to squeeze in, if that date is right.  I’ve culled this from Wikipedia mostly (yuk!) as the source most readily available.  I need to rearrange the list by decade, tho.

Update: Of course one can search the online TLG canon of authors by date, which I am now doing.  122 results come back, but nearly all are tiny fragments, found in the Greek Anthology or collected from Byzantine collections.  Strabo is too early (d. 24 AD).  Thessalus of Tralles, On the powers of herbs, was addressed to Claudius so again too early.  Comarius On the philosopher’s stone would appear to be earlier.  Thallus is only fragmentary and of uncertain date.


7 thoughts on “Extant literary texts from AD 30 to AD 100

  1. Thank you both. It’s a list of classical texts written in that period that I would like to see.

  2. The Pseudo-Apollodorus could potentially be given a date of the 1st century


    Here are two links for the two volume text of the real Apollodorus on google books. To reach the Pseudo-appollodorus follow the second link and go to page 127.



    I have tried to find an exhaustive chronological index of ancient writers before and failed. I do recall seeing a chronological arranged bibliography in an out of date edition of the Cambridge Ancient History. Anyone able to look? I don’t have one on hand.

  3. This is nice. Next step, give links to the texts of all of these authors online if they are available. And then, if they aren’t digitized, do that. You can do that in just a few days, right? 🙂

    I read the first four chapters of Pseudo-Apollodorus in Greek a few months back. It was pretty interesting. I had never read any Greek mythology before so this was a fun exercise. If there is anything you learn from reading Greek mythology it is that there are a lot of idioms for sexual intercourse. His Bibliotheka definitely has its share. Found it to be of medium difficulty generally. The thing that made it hardest is that the vocabulary is (obviously) much different than you find in many Christian works.

  4. Yeah, right!!!

    I wish I had ever had the time to learn more than snippets of Greek. I think the Apollodorus is an interesting text. We’re all familiar with these modern books that tell us about mythologies; but isn’t it nice to get back to our real sources for this information.

    “Pseudo-Apollodorus”… I’m not sure whether we ought to call things ‘pseudo’, you know. Not having a go, just musing. The worst example of this practice is Pseudo-Dionysius of Tell-Mahre. No-one has EVER heard of D of T-M; and now we’re saying we know that it’s someone pretending to call himself that?!? Give it a rest; call the work the history of D of T-M, and say in the footnote that actually we believe it can’t be. Otherwise aren’t we just introducing theory into the matter?

    Now there’s a blog post, if I could say it coherently enough.

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