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Polemon of Athens

Polemon of Athens Ancient Athenian scholar

Ancient Athenian scholar
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Ancient Athenian scholar
A.K.A. Polemon of Ilium
Countries Greece
Occupations Geographer Philosopher Writer Historian
Gender male
The details

Polemon (fl. 2nd century BCE) was a Stoic philosopher and geographer. Of Athenian citizenship, he is known as Polemon of Athens, but he was born either in Ilium, Samos, or Sicyon, and is also known as Polemon of Ilium and Polemon Periegetes. He travelled throughout Greece, and wrote about the places he visited. He also compiled a collection of the epigrams he saw on the monuments and votive offerings. None of these works survive, but many later writers quote from them.


Polemon was the son of Euegetes, and he was a contemporary of Aristophanes of Byzantium and Ptolemy Epiphanes. He was a follower of the Stoic philosopher Panaetius. He made extensive journeys throughout Greece to collect materials for his geographical works, in the course of which he paid particular attention to the inscriptions on votive offerings and on columns, whence he obtained the surname of Stelokopas.


In his travels, Polemon collected the epigrams he found into a work On the inscriptions to be found in cities (Greek: Περὶ τω̂ν κατὰ πόλεις ἐπιγραμμάτων). In addition, other works of his are mentioned, upon the votive offerings and monuments in the Acropolis of Athens, at Lacedaemon, at Delphi, and elsewhere, which no doubt contained copies of numerous epigrams. His works may have been a chief source of the Garland of Meleager. Athenaeus, Sextus Julius Africanus and other writers make very numerous quotations from his works. They were chiefly descriptions of different parts of Greece; some are on paintings preserved in various places, and several are controversial, among which is one against Eratosthenes.

Sir James Frazer considered him the most learned of all Greek antiquaries. "His acquaintance both with the monuments and with the literature seems to have been extensive and profound. The attention which he bestowed on inscriptions earned for him the nickname of the 'monument-tapper.'"

  • The fragments of Polemon have been published by Preller in the work entitled Polemonis Periegetce Fragmenta, collegit, digessit, notis auxit L. Preller, Lips., 1838.

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