Polemo, Antonius a highly celebrated sophist and rhetorician, who flourished under Trajan, Hadrian, and the first Antoninus, and was in high favor with the two former emperors (Suid. s.v.; Philostr. Vit. Sophist. p. 532). He is placed at the sixteenth year of Hadrian, A.D. 133, by Eusebius (Chronicles). His life is related at considerable length by Philostratus ( Vit. Sophist. 2, 25, p. 530-544). He was born of a consular family at Laodicea, but spent the greater part of his life at Smyrna, the people of which city conferred upon him at a very early age the highest honors, in return for which he did much to promote their prosperity, especially by his influence with the emperors.
Nor, in performing these services, did he. neglect his native city Laodicea. An interesting account of his relations with the emperors Hadrian and Antoninus is given by Philostratus (p. 533, 534). Among the sophists and rhetoricians whom he heard were Timocrates, Scopelianus, Dion Chrysostom, and Apollophanes. His most celebrated disciple was Aristides. His chief contemporaries were Herodes Atticus, Marcus Byzantinus, Dionysius Milesius, and Favorinus, who was his chief rival. Among his imitators in subsequent times was St. Gregory Nazianzen. His style of oratory was imposing rather than pleasing, and his character was haughty and reserved. During the latter part of his life he was so tortured by the gout that he resolved to put an end to his existence he had himself shut up in the tomb of his ancestors at Laodicea, where he died of hunger, at the age of sixty-five. The exact time of his death is not known; but it must have been some time after A.D. 143, as he was heard in that year by Verus. The only extant work of Polemo is the funeral orations for Cynlegeimus and Callimachus, the generals who fell at Marathon, which are supposed to be pronounced by their fathers, each extolling his own son above the other. Philostratus mentions several others of his rhetorical compositions, the subjects of which are chiefly taken from Athenian history, and an oration which he pronounced, by command of Hadrian. at the dedication of the temple of Zeus Olympius at Athens, in A.D. 135. His Λόγοι ἐπιτάφιοι were first printed by H. Stephanus, in his collection of the declamations of Polemo, Himerius, and other rhetoricians (Paris, 1547, 4to; afterwards by themselves in Greek, Paris, 1586, 4to; and in Greek and Latin, Tolosae, 1637, 8vo). The latest and best edition is that of Caspar and Conrad Orelli (Leips. 1819, 8vo). See Fabricius, Bibl. Graec. 6, 2-4; Clinton, Fasti Rogmani, s. a. 133, 135, 143. There is a coin of Itadrian, bearing the inscription ΠΟΛΕΜΩΝ. ΑΝΕΘΗΚΕ. CΜΥΡΝΑΙΟΙC. (Rasche, Lexic. Rei Vm. s.v. Polemo; Eckhel, Doctr. Nume. Vet. 2, 562). This coin belongs to a class which Eckhel has explained in a dissertation (vol. 4. c. 19, p. 368- 374). There is a question respecting the identity of this sophist with Polemo, the author of a short Greek work on Physiognomy, who, it is supposed, was a Christian, and must have lived in or before the 3d century. See the discussion on this question by Passow, Ueber Ptolemio's Zeitalter, in the Archiv für Philologie und Pädigogik (1, 7— 9), 1825.