Appian began writing his history around the middle of the second century AD. Only sections from half of the original 24 books survive today. The most important remnants of Appian's work are the five books on the Civil Wars—books 13-17 of the Roman History. These five books stand out because they are the only comprehensive, meticulous source available on an extremely significant historical period, during which Roman politics were in turmoil because of factional strife.
Especially notable is this work's ethnographic structure. Appian most likely used this structure to facilitate his readers' orientation through the sequence of events, which occur in different places and are united only by their relationship to Rome. A literary example of this can be found from Appian’s Civil Wars (part 5 of 17). It states, “And now civil discord broke out again worse than ever and increased enormously....so in the course of events in the Roman empire was partitioned....by these three men: Antony, Lepidus, and the one who was first called Octavius....shortly after this division they fell to quarrelling among themselves...Octavius...first deprived Lepidus of Africa...and afterward, as the result of the battle of Actium, took from Antony all the provinces lying between Syria and the Adriatic gulf."
One might expect that a historical work covering nine centuries and countless different peoples would involve a multitude of testimonials from different periods. However, Appian's sources remain uncertain, as he only mentions the source of his information under special circumstances. He may have relied primarily on one author for each book, whom he did not follow uncritically, since Appian also used additional sources for precision and correction. At our present state of knowledge questions regarding Appian’s sources cannot be solved.
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