Iamblichus was an Emesene who achieved wide prominence in the 2nd century. He describes himself on being having "descended from the ancient dynasts", including the Priest Kings of the Emesani Dynasty. Iamblichus had the knowledge of three languages: Assyrian, Babylonian and Greek.
Iamblichus was educated in Babylon, and didn’t become acquainted with the Greek language until later in his life. After having lived at Babylon for a number of years, he was taken prisoner and sold as a slave to a Syrian, who, however, appears to have set him free again. He is said to have acquired such a perfect knowledge of Greek that he even distinguished himself as a rhetorician. For a time, he lived in Armenia, when it was ruled by the Roman Client King; his fellow Emesene and distant relative Sohaemus.
Iamblichus was the author of the Βαβυλωνιακά (Babyloniaka, "Babylonian History"), a romance novel in Greek, which, if not the earliest, was at least one of the first productions of this kind in Greek literature. It contained the story of two lovers, Rhodanes and Sinonis. According to the Suda, it consisted of 39 books; but Photios, who gives a tolerably full epitome of the work, mentions only 17. A perfect copy of the work in MS. existed down to the year 1671, when it was destroyed by fire. A few fragments of the original work are still extant.
The epitome of Photios and the fragments are collected in Chardon de la Rochette's Melanges de Critique et de Philologie, Vol. 1, pp. 18, 34 and 53, and in Franz Passow's Corpus Erotic., vol. i.; comp. Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. viii. p. 152; Gerardus Vossius, De Hist. Graec. p. 275, ed. Westermann.
- Birley, Septimius Severus: the African emperor, p. 71
- Birley, Septimius Severus: the African emperor, p.71
- Whitmarch, The Cambridge companion to the Greek and Roman novel, p. 10
- Suda; Schol. ad Phot. Bibl. Cod. 94, p. 73, ed. Bekker.
- Birley, Septimius Severus: the African emperor, p.p. 71&224
- Bibl. Cod. 94
- Comp. Phot. Bibl. Cod. 166; Suda
- A.R. Birley, Septimius Severus: the African emperor, Routledge, 1999
- T. Whitmarsh, The Cambridge companion to the Greek and Roman novel, Cambridge University Press, 2008
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Leonhard Schmitz (1870). "Iamblichus". In Smith, William. Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology 2. p. 548.
- "Iamblichus, of Syria, the earliest of the Greek romance writers". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). 1911.