John the Lydian

John the Lydian was born in Philadelphia of Lydia, whence his cognomen ''Lydus". He studied at the Law School of Constantinople’s Pandidakterion. His legal and historical knowledge, highlighted him rapidly and he used in important places for the Empire, by the emperors Anastasius I (491-518), Justin I (518-527) and Justinian I (527-565 ). In 552 he lost favour and was dismissed. Apart from the political offices in which he stood, he was placed by Justinian as professor at Pandidakterion. When he resigned from this position, he worked on writing various historical works, which are an important source for the political and cultural early Byzantine period. He occupied himself in the compilation of works on the antiquities of Rome, three of which have been preserved:

1)    On Months (Gr. Περὶ τῶν μηνῶν: it contains information on the Roman calendar and the history of the different pagan festivals of the year.).

2)   On Powers (Gr. Περὶ Διοσημείων: on the origin and progress of the art of divination). The writer records earthquakes, lightning, appearances of comets and other curious and notable events associated with divination and religion of the Romans and Etruscans. 

3) On the Magistracies of the Roman Constitution (Gr. Περὶ ἀρχῶν τῆς Ῥωμαίων πολιτείας: it is  divided into three books detailing the history and organization of public services and worthy of the Roman Empire and early Byzantine- Aeneas, mythical times, Constantine the Great, Justinian I).

The chief value of these books consists in the fact that the author made use of the works - now lost - of old Roman writers on similar subjects.


Other names - versions: 
Ἰωάννης Λαυρέντιος ὁ Λυδός, Joannes Laurentius Lydus, John Lydus, Johannes Lydus, Ioannes Lydus Philadelphius
Date and Place of Birth: 
490, Philadelphia, Lydia
Date and Place of Death: 
between 565 and 578, Constantinople


A. C. Bandy, The Works of Ioannis Lydus, Vols. I–IV- New critical translations of De Mensibus, De Ostentis and De Magistratibus, Mellen 2013.

A. C. Bandy, On powers, or, The magistracies of the Roman state / Ioannes Lydus, Philadelphia 1983.

M. Dubuisson, J. Schamp, Des magistratures de l'état romain. Jean le Lydien, Paris 2006.

M. Maas, John Lydus and the Roman Past: Antiquarianism and Politics in the Age of Justinian, London 2013. 

T. F. Carney (transl.), John the Lydian, De Magistratibus. On the Magistracies of the Roman Constitution, Coronado 1971.


A translation of John the Lydian, “De Mensibus” ( On December) available at:  (Accessed: 17 February 2015).


Joannes Lydus Laurentius Opera Omnia by Migne Patrologia Graeca (Greek texts). Available at: (Accessed: 17 February 2015).



A. P. Kazhdan, The Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, New York and Oxford 1991 1061.