Aulus Gellius originated the modern use of 'classical' and 'humanities'. His Attic Nights, so named because they began as the intellectual pastime of winter evenings spent in a villa outside Athens, are a mine of information on many aspects of antiquity and a repository of much early Latin literature which would otherwise be lost; he took a particular interest in questions of grammar and literary style. The whole work is interspersed with interesting personal observations and vignettes of second-century life that throw light on the Antonine world. In this, the most comprehensive study of Gellius in any language, Dr Holford-Strevens examines his life, his circle of acquaintances, his style, his reading, his scholarly interests, and his literary parentage, paying due attention to the text, sense, and content of individual passages, and to the use made of him by later writers in antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and more recent times. It covers many subject areas such as language, literature, history, law, rhetoric, medicine; light is shed on a wide range of problems in Greek as well as Latin authors, either in the main text or in the succinct but wide-ranging footnotes.
In this second edition every statement has been reconsidered and account taken of recent work by the author and by others; an appendix has been added on the relation between the literary trends of Latin (the so-called archaizing movement) and Greek (Atticism) in the second century AD, and more space has been given to Gellius' attitudes towards women, as well as to recurrent themes such as punishment and embassies. The opportunity has been taken to correct or excise errors, but otherwise nothing has been removed unless superseded by more recent publications.