Gnaeus Pompeius Trogus, Roman historian from the country of Vecontii in Gallia Narbonensis, nearly contemporary with Livy, flourished during the age of Augustus.
His grandfather served in the war against Sertorius with Pompey, through whose influence be obtained the Roman citizenship; hence the name Pompeius, adopted as a token of gratitude to his benefactor. His father served under Julius Caesar in the capacity of secretary and interpreter.
Trogus himself seems to have been a man of encyclopaedic knowledge. He wrote, after Aristotle and Theophrastus, books on the natural history of animals and plants, frequently quoted by the elder Pliny. But his principal work was Historiae Philip picae in forty-four books, so called because the Macedonian empire founded by Philip is the central theme of the narrative.
This was a general history of the world, or rather of those portions of it which came under the sway of Alexander and his successors. It began with Ninus, the founder of Nineveh, and ended at about the same point as Livy (AD 9). The last event recorded by the epitomator Justin is the recovery of the Roman standards captured by the Parthians (20 BC).
He left untouched Roman history up to the time when Greece and the East came into contact with Rome, possibly because Livy had sufficiently treated it. The work was based upon the writings of Greek historians, such as Theopompus (also the author of a Philippica), Ephorus, Timaeus, Polybius. Chiefly on the ground that such a work was beyond the powers of a Roman, it is generally agreed that Trogus did not gather together the information from the leading Greek historians for himself, but that it was already combined into a single book by some Greek (very probably Timagenes of Alexandria).
His idea of history was more severe and less rhetorical than that of Sallust and Livy, whom he blamed for putting elaborate speeches into the mouths of the characters of whom they wrote. Of his great work, we possess only the epitome by Justin, the prologi or summaries of the 44 books, and fragments in Vopiscus, Jerome, Augustine and other writers. But even in its present mutilated state it is often an important authority for the ancient history of the East. Ethnographical and geographical excursuses are a special feature of the work.
This entry was originally from the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.