BMCR 2021.05.19

Antimachus Colophonius

, Antimachus Colophonius. Supplementum Grammaticum Graecum, Volume 2. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2020. Pp. viii, 228. ISBN 9789004410954 €144,00.

Our knowledge of Antimachus of Colophon is unfortunately fragmentary. If we are to believe our ancient sources, his poetry was admired by a handful of enthusiasts only (Plato among them). His poems were known for their great length (Agatharchides epitomized his Lyde) and his verses (“wrought on the anvil of the Muses”, according to Antipater, AP 7.409) for a pompous or vigorously rude diction. Moreover, Antimachus seems also to be the oldest known editor of the Iliad and the Odyssey, correcting and commenting on the text of both poems. As a learned poet and a Homeric commentator and/or editor, Antimachus served as the precursor (in the Borgian sense of the word)[1] of the grammarians and scholarly poets of Alexandria.

It is not clear when the full text of the Thebaid and the Lyde disappeared, but if what Dio Cassius tells us about Hadrian’s literary tastes is correct, at least the former was still extant in the first half of the second century AD. It is unlikely, however, that it survived much longer. As for his studia Homerica, only meagre pieces of it were preserved in later scholia and commentaries on Homer. After centuries of near oblivion, interest in Antimachus was rekindled by the first modern collection of his fragments, edited by Schellenberg in 1786. Other editions followed, augmented each time by previously unnoticed texts and newly discovered and edited papyri. Wyss’ highly praised 1936 edition remained standard until the 1990s, when Pérez’s (1992) and Matthews’ (1996) slightly expanded editions came into light with generous commentaries for each fragment.[2] Additionally, partial collections of his fragments can be found, for example, in Edmonds’ Elegy and Iambus, Lloyd-Jones and Parsons’ Supplementum Hellenisticum, and Gentili and Prato’s Poetae Elegiaci.

Fogagnolo’s edition is the first—as far as I can tell—dedicated exclusively to the above-mentioned studia Homerica. It comprises 25 fragments, numbered from 1 to 25 (yet another numbering system to our comparative tables), 24 of which already found in Wyss, Pérez, and Matthews, even if some of them were not previously ascribed to the studia. The exception (spoiler alert!) is F25 (see below).

The book is written in Italian, a fact not evident from its title and places of publication, nor from the English texts on the cover, back cover, and advertising material online. Fogagnolo’s prose is elegant, and her dense and comprehensive commentaries are easy to follow even when she is dealing with hard data.

The contents of the book are: summary (indice, p. v), foreword by the editors of the SGG series (in English, p. vii),[3] introduction (introduzione, p. 1), fragments 1 (p. 17), 2 (p. 21), 3 (p. 32), 4 (p. 35), 5 (p. 39), 6 (p. 45), 7 (p. 51), 8 (p. 59), 9 (p. 64), 10 (p. 72), 11 (p. 78), 12 (p. 88), 13 (p. 93), 14 (p. 104), 15 (p. 112), 16 (p. 117), 17 (p. 125), 18 (p. 132), 19 (p. 136), 20 (p. 143), 21 (p. 151), 22 (p. 155), 23 (p. 165), 24 (p. 170), and 25 (p. 176), bibliography (bibliografia, p. 183), indexes of sources (index fontium, p. 207), of literary passages (index locorum, p. 208), of subjects (index rerum, p. 226), and of words (index verborum, p. 228).

The introduction surveys the testimonia on Antimachus, making abundant reference to ancient and modern authorities. It starts with his chronology — floruit and relationship with contemporaneous, or near contemporaneous figures like Lysander, Choerilus, Panyasis, and Plato —, discusses Plato’s apparent admiration for his poetry, his place of birth (Colophon or nearby Clarus?), and his widespread fame as an epic and elegiac poet (the Thebaid and Lyde). Fogagnolo then moves on to her main interest here: Antimachus’ role as a learned editor of and/or commentator on Homer. She deals with the nature of the studia Homerica, raising questions such as whether the lost work was actually an edition of the poems or a series of learned commentaries on them. If an edition, was it a complete or a partial edition, only of those books or passages that were of greater interest to Antimachus? Did the vita Homeri to which some fragments apparently belong serve as an introduction to the edition, or was it an independent work? Fogagnolo discusses these questions with appropriate length and wisely offers no definitive answers to them.

Each fragment starts with a header that lists its sources (e.g. “F1 schol. Did. Il. 1.298c1 A”), the work by Antimachus to which it belongs (ekdosis of the Iliad, FF1-13; ekdosis of the Odyssey, F14; On Homer, FF15-22; of uncertain position, FF23-24; and dubious, F25), and the manuscripts of the sources. A critical transcription of the original text follows, complete with a thoughtful apparatus criticus[4] and an Italian translation that leaves the discussed terms in the Greek original. Fogagnolo did an excellent work here.

The Greek text printed by Fogagnolo at times differs in its extent from those of Pérez and Matthews. In F1, for example, she prints only the scholium A on the Iliad, 1.298c, and deals with the scholium T ibidem, which does not name Antimachus, in her commentary.

Another example that provides an interesting departure from the previous editions is Fogagnolo’s ascription of part of F37 Wyss to the studia Homerica. According to the three sources gathered in this fragment, Antimachus misread a passage of the Iliad (15.199-120) and thought that Ares’ sons Deimos and Phobos were actually his horses. As one of these sources, the scholium A on Iliad, 4.439-440, preserves an Antimachean hexameter («Δεῖμος τ’ ἠδὲ Φόβος πόδας αἰνετώ, υἷε Θυέλλης»), Wyss, Pérez, and Matthews ascribed the whole lot to the Thebaid. Fogagnolo departs from their editorial choice and with good arguments connects the two other sources (the scholium T on the Iliad, 13.299b, and Eustathius, 932.62 — who refers to Antimachus as a grammatikós, not an epopoiós), to the studia Homerica (F21).

Given the reduced scope of her edition, Fogagnolo can dedicate much more space to her analytical commentaries than Pérez and Matthews. They extend from two and a half (F3) to ten (F13) pages long, and in them she presents detailed and elucidating surveys of the opinions of previous scholars and ancient authors, and deals with a wide range of philological, textual, literary, mythographic, and historical aspects of the fragments.

F25 is a scholium on Thucydides 1.11.1, which claims that “Acamas and Antimachus led” the Achaeans who in the Trojan War practiced agriculture to help to feed the troops. As I said above, Fogagnolo is the first editor to include it among Antimachus’ fragments. Acamas, Theseus’ son, is absent from our Homeric texts, but present in the Sack of Ilium(argum. l. 22 and F6 Bernabé). His presence can also be inferred in F20 Bernabé of the Little Iliad, where his brother Demophon is named. Acamas’ role in this agricultural episode presents thus no great difficulty. However, the only Antimachus in Homer is a Trojan character (mentioned, e.g., at Il. 11.123). An Achaean warrior of that name appears in Quintus of Smyrna (12.323), but Quintus is known for deviating frequently from the details of the Epic Cycle. Consequently, some scholars see in “Antimachus” the corrupted form of the name of a better-attested hero, but do not agree on his identity (“Amphimachus” for Vian, “Antilochus” for Popp, “Archelogus” for Kleinlogel-Alpers). The fact that the Greek verb translated here as “led” (hēgeîto) is in the singular is yet another knot, but not a Gordian one — Fogagnolo collects some passages from Polybius and Diodorus that show that, as an expression of military command, hēgeîto may be used when « the subjects do not possess an individual and autonomous value between them, representing instead the holders of command » (p. 177, my translation).

Nevertheless, the difficulties were enough for Hermann Sauppe to suggest, in 1863,[5] that one should emend the kaì Antímachos to kat’ Antímachon, understanding Antimachus (sc. of Colophon) as the source of the scholium, not as a fellow commander of Acamas. Sauppe also tentatively ascribe it to the Lyde. Few scholars took Sauppe’s article into consideration over the following 150 years, however, and Wyss, Pérez, and Matthews left this fragment out of their editions. Only in 2013 was Sauppe’s argument picked up in earnest by Vera Grossi,[6] with greater detail and some variations. The attribution to the Lyde is based on the assumption that Acamas appeared in it as the unhappy lover of Phyllis.[7] Unlike Sauppe and Grossi, however, and for reasons that she states with clarity, Fogagnolo prefers to append it to the studia Homerica, cautiously tagging it as dubious.

Fogagnolo’s arguments in favor of this attribution are sound, but another possibility escaped her attention (and Sauppe’s, and Grossi’s): that the Antimachus mentioned, if a source, could be the epic poet of Teos who, according to Plutarch (Romulus, 12.2), witnessed an eclipse in 754 BC, and to whom Clement of Alexandria (Strom. 6.12.7) and a scholium on Aristophanes’ Pax (1270) ascribe the Epigoni (FF1 and 4 Bernabé) and a Nostoi.[8] Acamas is presented at times as an ambassador to Troy in the company of Diomedes, sent to try to retrieve Helen and to avert the imminent conflict. Our indirect source for this episode is Hegesippus’ Palleniaca (probably third century BC, through Parthenius’ Sorrows of Love, §16), but it is possible that Acamas already appeared in the Epigoni as an acquaintance of Diomedes, with a flash forward briefly displaying him in the Troad. Alternatively, he may have appeared in Antimachus’ Nostoi on his way home with Aethra, his agricultural activity being shown in a flashback. I leave this possibility here, however, for this review is obviously not the place to defend it fully.

Absent among Fogagnolo’s fragments is Tatianus’ Ad Graecos, 31 (F129 Wyss = 188 Pérez = F165 Matthews), which she classifies as a testimonium (it is both fragment and testimonium in Matthews) and briefly discusses on p. 12.

The bibliography is extensive and, I would say, complete, stretching from Schellenberg-Giles’ 1838 edition to Falivene’s 2020 chapter in the Commentaria et Lexica Graeca in Papyris Reperta edited by Bastianini et alii. Some minor editions are not listed, and Lloyd-Jones, Gentili-Prato, West, and Edmonds, who did not edit the studia Homerica, are listed under studi, respectively on pp. 194, 189, 205, and 188.

Lacking is a tabula numerorum: the correspondence to the previous editions (mainly Wyss’ and Matthews’) is indicated in the commentaries, but not always at the beginning (e.g. it is on p. 66 of F9, and on p. 80 of F11). In my opinion the correspondences should have been listed at the head of each fragment, to help the reader to locate it in the mass of fragments of the “complete” editions. I thus take the liberty of providing a comparative table below.

Fogagnolo’s edition is nothing short of excellent, certainly destined to become a reference in the studies of Antimachus. I am looking forward to reading her thesis on the Homeric fragments of Zoilus of Amphipolis.


1-5 131-135 190-194 167-171
6 88 155 172
7-8 136-137 195-196 173-174
9 148 208 175
10-14 138-142 197-201 176-180
15 130 189 166
16 143 203 181
17 16 29 182
18 61 109 183
19-20 144-145 204-205 184-185
21 37 71 34
22 147 207 187
23 146 206 186
24 190 202 188



[1] According to Jorge Luis Borges, in his essay “Kafka y sus Precursores,” in “the critic vocabulary, the word precursor is indispensable, but we should purify it of all connotation of controversy or rivalry. The fact is that each writer creates his own precursors. His work modifies our perception of the past, as it shall modify the future” (Jorge Luis Borges, Otras Inquisiciones (1937-1952), Buenos Aires: 1952, p. 128, my translation).

[2] Pérez’s edition, an academic thesis, can be read online at Edición, traducción y cometario de los fragmentos de Antímaco de Colofón. Matthews’ edition was reviewed by Maria Broggiato (BMCR 1997.08.14). Due to the pandemic, I had no access to Wyss’ edition while writing this review. I edited and translated into Portuguese the fragments of Antimachus in my Fragmentos de Poesia Épica e Cômica da Grécia Antiga, but, as I doubt that it was read outside Brazilian borders, I will refrain from further references to it here.

[3] The editors’ foreword presents Fogagnolo’s volume in the scope of SGG, and announces their intention to publish the corpus of “ancient Greek grammatikoi” in nine initial printed volumes (later to be converted to a digital platform) followed by an unspecified number of editions in digital format.

[4] Given the scope and nature of Pérez’s and Matthews’ editions, their apparati critici to the fragments of the Studia are much leaner. An example of how minute Fogagnolo’s annotation of variants and emendations is in comparison appears already in F1, where Fogagnolo prints «καὶ ἡ Ἀντιμάχου καὶ <ἡ> Ἀριστοφάνους,» indicating in her apparatus that the addition of the second ἡ was suggested by Villoison. Pérez does not name the author of the editorial intervention, and Matthews does not even mark it in the text; nor is this the only correction by Villoison of that fragment that is accepted, but not annotated in these editions.

[5] Hermann Sauppe, “Zu den griechischen Historikern,” in Philologus, 19 (1863), especially p. 147.

[6] Vera Grossi, “Tradizioni locali attiche negli scoli a Tucidide. Note su alcuni scoli all’Archeologia,” in Lexis, 31 (2013), especially pp. 259-260.

[7] On the relationship between Acamas and Phyllis, see Tzetzes’ scholia on Lycophron’s Alexandra, 495, and Lucian’s De Saltatione, 40. Other sources (such as Apollodorus’ Library, E.6.16-17) give Acamas’ brother, Demophon, as Phyllis’ lover.

[8] The scholiast on Aristophanes actually mentions “Antimachus’ Epigoni,” and Clement, “Antimachus of Teos.” We need to link the two pieces of information to read it as “Antimachus of Teos’ Epigoni.” A Vita Hippocratis (Nostoi F17 falsa Bernabé) also seems to mention him. It is therefore possible that Antimachus of Teos wrote a Nostoi and that the author of the Epigoni is yet another Antimachus. On the possible existence of up to five Nostoi in Antiquity, see Bernabé’s Fragmentos de Épica Griega Arcaica (Madrid, 1979), pp. 192-194. Cf. the Suda (ν 500) and its mention of «the poets who have celebrated The Returns» (translation by M. West, my emphasis).