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Ancient Literature (7)

Grammarians & Philologists

Aristophanes of Byzantium

, , 257 - 180
Aristophanes (or Scholar) of Byzantium, born about B.C. 260, went in his early youth to Alexandria, and was there a pupil of Zenodotus and Callimachus. On the death of Apollonius of Rhodes, Aristophanes, when past his sixtieth year, was appointed to be chief librarian, and died at the age of seventy-seven. His fame was eclipsed by that of his pupil Aristarchus, but he still passed for one of the ablest grammarians and critics of antiquity, distinguished by industry, learning, and sound judgment. In addition to the Homeric poems, which formed his favourite study, and of which he was the first to attempt a really critical text, he devoted his labours to Hesiod; the lyric poets, especially Alcaeus and Pindar; and the tragic and comic poets, Aristophanes and Menander in particular. The received introductions to the plays of the tragedians and Aristophanes are in their best parts derived from him. He was also the author of a large and much-quoted work of a lexicographical character, considerable fragments of which still survive.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Aristophanes, of Byzantium, a son of Apelles, and one of the most eminent Greek grammarians at Alexandria. He was a pupil of Zenodotus and Eratosthenes, and teacher of the celebrated Aristarchus. He lived about B. C. 264, in the reign of Ptolemy II. and Ptolemy III., and had the supreme management of the library at Alexandria. All the ancients agree in placing him among the most distinguished critics and grammarians. He founded a school of his own at Alexandria, and acquired great merits for what he did for the Greek language and literature. He and Aristarchus were the principal men who made out the canon of the classical writers of Greece, in the selection of whom they shewed, with a few exceptions, a correct taste and appreciation of what was really good. Aristophanes was the first who introduced the use of accents in the Greek language. The subjects with which he chiefly occupied himself were the criticism and interpretation of the ancient Greek poets, and more especially Homer, of whose works he made a new and critical edition (diorthosis). But he too, like his disciple Aristarchus, was not occupied with the criticism or the explanation of words and phrases only, but his attention was also directed towards the higher subjects of criticism: he discussed the aesthetical construction and the design of the Homeric poems. In the same spirit he studied and commented upon other Greek poets, such as Hesiod, Pindar, Alcaeus, Sophocles, Euripides, Anacreon, Aristophanes, and others. The philosophers Plato and Aristotle likewise engaged his attention, and of the former, as of several among the poets, he made new and critical editions. All we possess of his numerous and learned works consists of fragments scattered through the Scholia on the above-mentioned poets, some argumenta to the tragic poets and some plays of Aristophanes, and a part of his Lexeis, which is printed in Boissonade's edition of Herodian's "Partitiones" (London, 1819). His Glottai and Hupomnemata, which are mentioned among his works, referred probably to the Homeric poems. Among his other works we may mention:
1. Notes upon the Pinakes of Callimachus (Athen. ix.), and upon the poems of Anacreon (Aelian, H. A. vii. 39, 47).
2. An abridgement of Aristotle's work Peri Phuseos Zoon, which is perhaps the same as the work which is called Hupomnemata eis Aristotelen.
3. A work on the Attic courtezans, consisting of several books (Athen. xiii.).
4. A number of grammatical works, such as Attikai Lexeis, Lakonikai Glossai and a work Peri Analogias, which was much used by M. Tarentius Varro.
5. Some works of an historical character, as Thebaika (perhaps the same as the Thebaion horoi), and Boiotika, which are frequently mentioned by ancient writers (Suid. s. v. Homoloios Zeus; Apostol. Proverb. xiv. 40; Plut. de Mal. Herod. 31, 33; Schol. ad Theocrit. vii. 103; Steph. Byz. s. v. Antikonduleis, &c.)
  Some modern writers have proposed in all these passages to substitute the name Aristodemus for Aristophanes, apparently for no other reason but because Aristodemus is known to have written works under the same titles.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Oct 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

(Textual Criticism) . .The existing texts were classified and characterized in the Pinakes of Callimachus, the first great bibliographical work ever written; and Eratosthenes of Cyrene (c. 276-196 B.C.) wrote a critical treatise on the poets of the Old Comedy. He was succeeded by Aristophanes of Byzantium (c. 257- 180 B.C.), perhaps the greatest philologist of antiquity. His criticism was partly diplomatic and partly verbal; and was guided always by the sentiment critique. He did much for both text-criticism and for language-study in general. To him is ascribed the invention of diacritical marks and symbols (semeia kritika), all of great palaeographic importance.
   Ten of these are known as the deka prosoidiai: (a) the rough breathing (pneuma dasu); (b) the smooth breathing (pneuma psilon); (c) the grave accent (bareia); (d) the acute accent (oxeia); (e) the circumflex accent (tonos oxubareia or perispomene); (f and g) the long and short marks (chronoi); (h) the diastole or comma (virgule); (i) the hyphen (huphen); (j) the apostrophe (apostrophos). The Greek marks of punctuation are also ascribed to Aristophanes. His critical work included an edition of Homer (a second diorthosis), and also editions of Hesiod (the Theogony), Alcaeus, Anacreon, Pindar, Euripides, Aristophanes, and perhaps Simonides and Menander. The famous Alexandrian Canon was in part his work.

This extract is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Dec 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Canon Alexandrinus. The so-called Alexandrian Canon, arranged by Aristophanes of Byzantium and his disciple Aristarchus . . .

   Glossa. . . .The principal glossographers among the Greeks were Philetas (about B.C. 290), Zenodotus of Ephesus (about B.C. 280), compiler of Glossai Homerikai; Aristophanes of Byzantium (B.C. 200), whose glosses are partly preserved by Pollux; Diodorus, Artemidorus, Nicander of Colophon, Aristarchus of Samothrace, Crates of Mallos, Zenodotus of Mallos, Didymus Chalcenteros, Apollonius Sophista (about B.C. 20), Neoptolemus, known distinctively as"ho glossographos" . . .

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Callistratus, a Greek grammarian, and a disciple of Aristophanes of Byzantium, whence he is frequently surnamed ho Aristophaneios (Athen. i., vi.). He must have lived about the middle of the second century before Christ, and have been a contemporary of the famous Aristarchus. He appears to have devoted himself principally to the study of the great poets of Greece, such as Homer, Pindar, the tragedians, Aristophanes, and some others, and the results of his studies were deposited in commentaries upon those poets, which are lost, but to which occasionally reference is made in our scholia. Tzetzes (Chil. xi. 61) states, that the grammarian Callistratus was the first who made the Samians acquainted with the alphabet of twenty-four letters, but this is in all probability a fiction. There are several more works mentioned by the ancients, which, it seems, must be attributed to our grammarian. Athenaeus (iii.) mentions the seventh book of a work called Summikta, and in another passage (xiii.), a work on courtezans (peri hetairon), both of which belong probably to Callistratus the grammarian. Harpocration (s. v. Menekles e Kallistratos) mentions a work peri Athenon, which some ascribed to Menecles and others to Callistratus, but the reading in the passage of Harpocration is uncertain, and Preller (Polem. Fragm.) thinks that Kallikrates ought to be read instead of Kallistratos. A commentary of Callistratus on the Thrattai of Cratinus is mentioned by Athenaeus (xi.). It is uncertain whether the Callistratus whose history of Samothrace is mentioned by Dionysius of Halicarnassus (i. 68; comp. Schol. ad Pind. Nem. vii. 150) is the same as our grammarian.

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Horapollo, (Horatollon) was, according to Suidas (s. v.), a very distinguished Greek grammarian of Phaenebythis in Egypt, who first taught at Alexandria, and afterwards at Constantinople, in the reign of the emperor Theodosius. He is further said to have written commentaries on Sophocles, Alcaeus, and Homer, and a separate work, entitled Temenika, i. e. on temene, or places sacred to the gods. (Conip. Steph. Byz. s. v. Phenebethis.) Photius (Bibl. Cod. 279, ed. Bekker) speaks of him as a grammarian, and the author of a work, Peri ton patrion Alechandreias, though this may have been the work of another Horapollo, who was likewise an Egyptian, but lived under the emperor Zeno. Under the name of Horapollo (or, as some erroneously call him, Horus), there is still extant a work on hieroglyphics, entitled Hoprapollonos Neilonu hierogluphika. The work purports to be a Greek translation, made by one Philippus from the Egyptian. It consists of two books, and contains a series of explanations of hieroglyphics, and is of great importance to those who study hieroglyphics, for it refers to the very forms which are still seen on Egyptian monuments, which show that the work was written by a person who knew the monuments well, and had studied them with care. The second book is inferior to the first, and is probably disfigured by later interpolations. Whether the whole is the production of the grammarian who lived under Theodosius, or of some other person of the name, cannot be decided; but that the writer was a native of Egypt can scarcely be doubted, from the nature of the work. As for the time at which it was written, it seems probable that he lived about the beginning of the fifth century. Who the Greek translator Philippus was, is quite uncertain; some even believe that he was a Greek of the fifteenth century, and that the interpolations in the second book must be ascribed to him; but there appears to be no good reason for placing him at so late a period. The work was first printed in the collection of Greek fabulists, by Aldus, Venice, 1505, fol.; separate editions are those of Paris (1521, 8vo., with a Lat. translation by Trebatius), of J. Mercer (Paris, 1548, 4to., 1551, 8vo.), D. Hoschel (Augsburg, 1595, 4to.), de Pauw (Utrecht, 1727, 4to., contains the notes of the previous editors); but the best critical edition, with an extensive commentary, is that of Conr. Leemans (Amsterdam, 1835, 8vo.), who has accompanied his edition with valuable prolegomena. (Comp. Lenormant, Recherches sur l'Origine, &c., et l'Utilite actuelle des Hieroglyphiques d'Horapollon, Paris, 1838, 8vo.; Goulianoff, Essais sur les Hieroglyph. d'Horapollon, Paris, 1827, 4to.; A. S. Corey, The Hieroglyphics of Horapollo, London, 1840, 8vo.; Bunsen, Aeqyptens Stelle in der Weltgesch. vol. i.)

This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Nov 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

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