BMCR 2021.01.31

Antidorus, Dionysius Iambus, Epigenes, Lysanias, Parmenon, Silenus, Simaristus, Simmias

, Antidorus, Dionysius Iambus, Epigenes, Lysanias, Parmenon, Silenus, Simaristus, Simmias. Supplementum grammaticum Graecum, 1. Leiden: Brill, 2019. Pp. xii, 426. ISBN 9789004362239 €189,00.

The growth of Homeric scholarship as an identifiable and systematic intellectual domain coincided with the acme of Hellenistic poetry. Pfeiffer showed that this was not accidental, but represented a crucial and influential relationship.[1] In other words, the beginning of scholarship and the new Homeric aesthetics demonstrated by the poetry of the first half of the third century BC are closely connected with each other, and the quality of being a ποιητὴς ἅμα καὶ κριτικός was prominent among Hellenistic poets of this period.[2]

The new Brill series, Supplementum Grammaticum Graecum (SGG) edited by F. Montanari, L. Pagani, and F. Montana, is a collection of critical editions of testimonies and fragments of Greek grammarians: ancient scholars who dealt with textual criticism, literary exegesis, grammar, biography, and the various fields of erudition. The book under review is the first volume of this collection in Italian and covers eight Greek grammarians of the early or later Hellenistic period: Antidorus, Dionysius Iambus, Epigenes, Lysanias, Parmenon, Silenus, Simaristus, and Simmias.

The first entry under consideration is Antidorus Cumaeus (possible alternative versions of his name in Αὐτο – or ᾽Αντο – are inconsistent). His floruit harks back to the first half of the third century BC on the basis of the term γραμματικός as a definition of “studioso di lingua e letteratura” (p. 1). According to T1a Dettori, Antidorus’ activity was registered at a time when γραμματικός was understood as an expert of the technique of reading and writing (compare the modern term philologist), and this definition of the term was also connected with the term κριτικός (p. 2). Antidorus was believed to have written two different treatises: a Λέξις (T1a Dettori) and a σύγγραμμα Περὶ Ὁμήρου καὶ Ἡσιόδου (T1b Dettori). Dettori offers three possibilities concerning these works: (1) they attest to the existence of two different works, (2) one work was circulated under the title Περὶ Ὁμήρου καὶ Ἡσιόδου, or (3) one work was circulated under the title Λέξις which was in particular a product of a γραμματικός. Dettori comes to the conclusion that, on the basis of his origin from Aeolic Cuma, Antidorus could have written one treatise on Homer and Hesiod which presented material relevant for Homeric exegesis and testimonies on Sappho and Alcaeus (p. 6).

Dionysius Iambus was probably the teacher of Aristophanes of Byzantium, and, if we take into consideration that the latter was probably born in 257 BC (T1 Slater), then Dionysius’ floruit should probably be located ten to forty years before his student under the rise of Ptolemy II. His nickname ῎Ιαμβος and the grammarian himself are mentioned by Cuper (Observationum libri tres, Utrecht, 1670: 316-17) in a series of cases of personal names accompanied by a noun, such as Anaxagoras’ Νοῦς, etc. (p. 20-21). His treatise Περὶ διαλέκτων indicates a work that is focused on a variety of local idioms but is not necessarily a work on dialects in the strict sense, although it may be a treatise interested in different fields of language (on the nature of his work, see p. 21). However, Dettori concludes that Dionysius’ work seems to have a linguistic character (see F1 Dettori), although we cannot define its exact structure and purpose. Thus, in F2 (Dettori), we find a varied typology of scribes from, among other things, mythical history to musical history (p. 22). This typology differentiates Dionysus from an Alexandrian Grammarian of the Ptolemaic age, and his treatise records themes and subjects from local historiographers (F 1 Dettori) or the “Aristotelian school” (F 2 Dettori).

The Epigenes mentioned by Clement (FF 1, 3) and the Epigenes mentioned by Harpocration (F 2) and Athenaeus (F 4) are references of the same person. This grammarian’s acme is probably located between the fourth and the third century BC, although his exact floruit is difficult to determine on the basis of his surviving fragments (pp. 47-50). The date of Epigenes (to whom the work Τριαγμοί was falsely attributed) preceded that of Callimachus and is consistent with his philological activity (connected with the art of cataloguing), but testimonies are inadequate to establish any deeper connections with certainty. Both Περὶ τῆς εἰς Ὀρφέα ποιήσεως (F 1 Dettori) and Περὶ τῆς Ὀρφέως ποιήσεως (F 3 Dettori) were attributed to Epigenes: but the extant fragments suggest different contexts of a single σύγγραμμα (p. 50). In general, Dettori concludes that Epigenes’ profile is that of an exegete, who did not focus on internal questions, with an Alexandrian character. His philological activity was probably considered quite different from Aristarchus’ activity and is strongly affiliated with the surviving Stoic philology (p. 52).

Lysanias Cyrenaeus was a teacher of Eratosthenes (T 1 Dettori) and his floruit harks back to 276 BC, probably between 325 and 285 BC in the absence of other direct dates (third century BC) (see his possible connections with Callimachus and the Cyrenean origin, pp. 86-88). Two titles are attributed to Lysanias:  Περὶ ἰαμβοποιῶν in many books (F 1-2 Dettori, esp. F 1 for the first book) and Περὶ ποιητῶν (F 3a Dettori). These treatises were probably connected with the “School of Aristotle” or historical/ antiquarian literature and not with Alexandrian scholarship. Dettori mentions that Lysanias presented some fragments on history and literary hermeneutics (FF 3-4, 9 Dettori), closely connected to the production of the fourth century BC and Peripatetic research (p. 88). In conclusion, Lysanias’ connection with Eratosthenes, Callimachus and the successive grammarians, as well as  his critical aesthetics on works by Euripides, reveal a scholar with competence in various fields of erudition, such as the Peripatetics and the first Alexandrian philology.

Parmenon of Byzantium (the name Παρμενίων is probably a scribal error) dates back to the third century BC and a title Περὶ διαλέκτου was attributed to him (F 1 Dettori, for the fourth book) or in plural διαλέκτων, according to a catalogue of similar treatises from Demetrius Ixion, Philoxenus etc (p. 173-74). Dettori claims that we cannot exclude the title διάλεκτος for Parmenon’s work in the sense of “modalità di eloquio”, illustrated in terms of regional diversity and affinity in the lexicon (p. 175). In general, the typology of Parmenon’s work fits with the glossography of the first Alexandrian period, and we should avoid the identification of this grammarian with the poet of the same name and nationality (p. 177).

Silenus (or Σειλ- found in inscriptions and papyri of the Hellenistic period) is mentioned along with Nicander and his floruit harks back either to the second half of the third century or to the first half of the second century BC (see F 8 Dettori). Silenus presents the profile of a dialectic glossographer (FF 1-2, 6, 9 Dettori) considering his source, Athenaeus and the dialectic references to Silenus (FF 1, 6 Dettori).

In F 5 Dettori, Simaristus is mentioned after Silenus, Cleitarchus, and Zenodotus, and this mention is due to our source, Pamphilus, which puts Simaristus between the first century BC and the first century AD. However, Dettori claims that our testimonies on Simaristus’ floruit are scarce and doubtful (see FF 3, 6, 7 Dettori). The most important indications for Simaristus’ possible date are given by Matthaios (2015:286-86) who locates him after the second or the third century AD. One treatise under the title ἐν Συνωνύμοις is attributed to Simaristus (F 4 in general, FF 1-2 Dettori for the third book and FF 1, 3 Dettori for the fourth book) about either two mentions with a different name and a common reference that it identified (cf. Arist. Cat. 1a 6-8), or about two different terms with a common name (cf. Arist. Rh. 1404d 39-40), or about two different references with the same name (cf. Antiph. F 216.1-4 Kassel – Austin). Dettori argues that the analysis of the fragments serves the goal of poetic exegesis and literary hermeneutics and interpretations (p. 307).

Finally, the last entry treats the grammarian Simmias Rhodius. As his nickname shows, he was probably a native or inhabitant of the island of Rhodes around the fourth or the third century BC under Ptolemy I. One treatise in four books under the title Γλῶσσαι was attributed to Simmias, who was apparently among the Hellenistic grammarians of the first generation and who similarly focused on poetic exegesis and glossography. Dettori proposes that Simmias was interested in vocabulary on the basis of ἕν ἀνθ᾽ἑνός (F 4 Dettori) in contrast with the tradition of Philitas’ glossography (F 4), and we also observe the possible Homeric interpretation of the ἴσθμιον (F 4). Simmias also drew on poetic authority by referring to the lyric poet Anacreon (F 2) and he adopted techniques associated with glossography (F 1 Dettori). In general, one fragment (1) is a dialectic glossa, and three fragments (1, 3-4) are about literary exegesis.

Each entry in Dettori’s first volume of SGG consists of a biographical and cultural profile of a grammarian and a new (often first) critical edition of all the existing testimonies and sources in their original language. These are supported by translations and analytical commentaries together with a thorough bibliography and indices. I would have liked to see a special index at the end of each volume presenting special technical vocabulary found in the grammatical fragments. This would allow for a fresh re-reading of the scholia and insights into the special philological and critical aspects of the grammarians’ language and erudition. In general, Dettori’s new book is highly recommended to every scholar or student who wishes to further explore Hellenistic scholarship and investigate the “lost” treatises of the Greek grammarians of antiquity.


[1] Pfeiffer R. 1968, History of Classical Scholarship from the Beginnings to the End of the Hellenistic Age, Oxford. For Aristotelian and Peripatetic influence on the growth of academic scholarship, see Montanari, F. 1993, “L’erudizione, la filologia e la grammatica”, in: G. Cambiano – L. Canfora – D. Lanza (eds.), Lo spazio letterario della Grecia antica (1.2), Roma, 235-281; Richardson, N. 1994, “Aristotle and Hellenistic Scholarship”, in: F. Montanari (ed.), La philologie grecque à l’époque hellénistique et romaine, 340 Entretiens Hardt 40, Genève, 7–28; Rossi, L. E. 1995, “Letteratura di filologi e filologia di letterati”, Aevum(ant) 8, 9-32; Wilson, N.G. 1997, “Griechische Philologie im Altertum”, in: H.- G. Nesselrath, Einleitung in die griechische Philologie, Stuttgart-Leipzig, 87–103.

[2] Rengakos, A. 2001, “Apollonios Rhodios as a Homeric Scholar”, in: T.D. Papanghelis – A. Rengakos (eds.), A Companion to Apollonius Rhodius, Leiden – Boston-Köln, 193–216.