LIBANIUS (c. 314-395), Antiochene sophist and rhetorician, and a champion of pagan classical literature. He was an admirer and supporter of the apostate emperor JULIAN, but he also numbered among his friends and students the Christians JOHN CHRYSOSTOM, BASIL THE GREAT, and THEODORUS OF MOPSUESTIA. As a young man Libanius spurned the teachers in Antioch and steeped himself in the Greek classics. At about the age of twenty-two, he went to Athens, where he studied for four years. He later taught and lectured in Constantinople and Nicomedia, where he first became acquainted with Julian, the young emperor-to-be. He spent the last half of his life in his beloved Antioch.
The voluminous works of Libanius, which provide much valuable information on political, social, and economic affairs in the eastern portion of the Roman Empire, include rhetorical exercises, declamations, orations, an apology of Socrates, a life of Demosthenes, an autobiography, and a collection of letters that includes correspondence with ATHANASIUS, GREGORY OF NYSSA, John Chrysostom, and the emperor Julian.
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