Joannes Stobaeus (Greek: Ἰωάννης ὁ Στοβαῖος; 5th-century), from Stobi in Macedonia, 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, dialectics, and ethics, to politics, economics, 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 in North Macedonia. The age in which he lived cannot be fixed with accuracy. He quotes Hierocles 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 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 (Greek: Ἐκλογαὶ φυσικαὶ καὶ ἠθικαί, or "Eclogues"), the third book forming another work, called Florilegium or Sermones, (Greek: Ἀνθολόγιον, or "Anthology"). 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.
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