BMCR 2022.07.12

Apollonius Dyscole, Traité des adverbes

, Apollonius Dyscole, Traité des adverbes. Textes et traditions, 32. Paris: J. Vrin, 2021. Pp. 582. ISBN 9782711629817 €58,00.

Apollonius Dyscolus is considered one of the greatest grammarians in Antiquity. According to the Life of Apollonius written by Theodosius of Alexandria (4th century CE; GG II.3, pp. XI, 6-XII, 5), Apollonius was born in Alexandria, where he lived until he moved to Rome. Theodosius also attests that in Rome Apollonius was in Marcus Aurelius’ favour and that he was the father of the other well-known grammarian Aelius Herodianus: thanks to this information, it is possible to date Apollonius to the 2nd century CE.

Even if the Suda (α 3422 Adler) mentions twenty-six works that Apollonius wrote, only four treatises have survived through direct transmission: On Syntax, in four books; On Pronouns (Pron.); On Conjunctions (Conj.); On Adverbs (Adv.). It is also notable that, apart from the Syntax, the other three works are absent in Suda’s lemma and are transmitted by one single manuscript (Paris, Bibliothèque National de France, Gr. 2548; siglum A). Lionel Dumarty’s work offers a new critical edition of Adv., the last of Apollonius’ surviving works still in need of a modern translation and commentary.[1] The edition is accompanied by an introduction, a French translation, a long and detailed commentary, an up-to-date bibliography and five different indices (of the technical terms; of the adverbs discussed within the work; of the authors cited by Apollonius; of the ancient authors quoted by Dumarty; of the modern scholars).

After discussing the testimonies of Apollonius’ life and works, as well as the problematic sequence of the treatises written by Apollonius[2], Dumarty gives a clear explanation of the structure of the work.

Adv. is composed of two parts (a detailed plan of the work is provided by Dumarty on pp. 72-75), one regarding the sense of the adverbs (ἔννοια) and the other regarding the composition (σχῆμα τῆς λέξεως; see Adv. p. 119, 1-4). This division is also found in Pron. and Conj. and originated in the Aristotelian (and then Stoic) distinction between signified and signifier.

In the first part, Apollonius gives the definition of adverb (Adv. pp. 119, 5-125, 5), speaks about its position within the phrase (Adv. pp. 125, 6-126, 26) and discusses some words whose adverb status is doubtful (Adv. pp. 126, 27-145, 25). In the second part, the author divides the adverbs into primitive and derived (Adv. p. 146, 1-14), analyses adverbs which could be written in different ways (pp. 146, 15-151, 29) and then classifies the adverbs according to their endings (Adv. pp. 151, 30-200, 32).

The singularity of Adv. in relation to Pron. and Conj. consists in the absence of any discussion regarding the name of the adverb (ἐπίρρημα) or the previous debate on the adverbs. This void has led scholars to believe that the treatise had a lacuna. Some pages later, Dumarty persuasively argues (pp. 64-66) that there is no reason to suppose such a lacuna in Adv.: it is likely that Apollonius omits the more ancient scholarly debate regarding the world ἐπίρρημα since, as it is stated in Synt. p. 486, 6-10 Schneider, no-one before him had rigorously demonstrated how adverbs are constructed. Indeed, as proved by the reconstruction of the previous theories on the adverbs provided by Dumarty, the adverb had no place per se in the reflections on the parts of grammar before the 2nd century BCE, when Antipatros of Tharsos spoke of the adverb as μεσότης «the part in the middle» (Diog. Laer. VII 57, 214-215 Dorandi = SVF III Ant. 22). The first attestations of the term ἐπίρρημα to designate an adverb are to be found in Tryphon (1st century BCE, author of a treatise ἐπὶ ἐπιρρημάτωνquoted by Apollonius)[3] and in some ancient grammatical papyri ascribable to the 1st century CE, which explain the adverb as a non-declinable part of the discourse which should be put before the verb and which is not composed with it.[4] Instead, Apollonius defines the adverb as an «indeclinable word that completely or partially predicates the moods of the verbs, without which it would not make complete sense» (ἔστιν οὖν ἐπίρρημα μὲν λέξις ἄκλιτος, <κατ>ηγοροῦσα τῶν ἐν τοῖς ῥήμασιν ἐγκλίσεων κα<θόλου> ἢ μερικῶς, ὧν ἄνευ οὐ κατακλείσει διάνοιαν, Adv. p. 119, 5-6), thus conceiving the adverb from its semantic value and not from its position within the phrase.

Apollonius’s method is accurately explained by Dumarty through the following points:
1. Even though Apollonius explains and defends poetic forms (e. g. Adv. p. 186, 1-9), he mostly uses Homeric and poetic examples as an auctoritas through which his statement can be demonstrated. This approach greatly differs from the one used by Herodianus, who uses the laws of grammar to illuminate Homeric verses. As Dumarty clearly points out: «On est passé de la nécessité de fonder la règle pour expliquer les textes poétiques à la nécessité de fonder la règle pour expliquer la langue – entreprise à laquelle Homère ne contribue plus que comme un garant de la norme linguistique» (p. 32). To that point, a more in-depth investigation of the relationship within the two works would be interesting (see for instance Adv.pp. 139, 14-15; 152, 16-24 and sch. Hrd. ad ζ 265b, Pontani III, p. 206, 80 on the «Ionic synaloepha»);
2. Apollonius’ approach is analogistic. He explains the rule, then cites an irregular form in order to explain if it is a real error (due to barbarism or solecism) or simply of a form that has been so altered that it seems incorrect. In addition, Apollonius sometimes also explains the ambiguous forms that lead to making mistakes. In line with this method, he tries to reconduct every form to the genetivus. Moreover, he also fabricates non-attested forms only to justify his derivation (e. g. Adv. p. 155, 18-26, where he creates the form *οὐδαμός: see Dumarty p. 50) or proposes nonsensical explanations (e. g. the case of ἔνδον, discussed by Dumarty on p. 52)
3. Apollonius makes frequent use of the reductio ad absurdum: he often begins a demonstration with an argument that he will refuse later, in order to explain the right demonstration after having eliminated every doubt or contradiction.

In the end, Dumarty provides a (very short) description of the two codices transmitting Adv. and the criteria of his edition.

A is a parchment-manuscript datable to the 9th century CE and probably produced in southern Italy[5]; at least two different hands are visible (A and A2; Dumarty refers to Ax in cases of doubt) and there are some captions written in alexandrine majuscule. Unfortunately, the ink at times is very faint or even invisible due to humidity. A transmits Adv. at ff. 114r-145v (= Adv. pp. 119, 1-194, 17 ἀγχόσε) and ff. 177r-183v (= Adv. pp. 194, 17 τήλοσε-210, 5; ff. 146r-177r contain Pron. 5, 16 κῶλον-88, 2 ὠξύνθη Schneider). However, ff. 179v (l. 17)-183v (= *Adv. pp. 201, 1-210, 5 Schneider) attest what has been considered since O. Schneider as a portion of the Syntax erroneously placed here (see Dumarty pp. 66-68).

The second codex (Leiden, Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit, Ruhnken 29; siglum: L; Adv. occupies the ff. 1r-21v [this information is not provided by Dumarty]) is dated by Dumarty to the second half of the 18th century CE, and Dumarty had already shown[6] that it is a mere apograph of A, mostly useless to the constitutio textus.

The Greek text of Adv. constituted by Dumarty follows the numeration of lines provided by Schneider, but also gives Bekker’ numeration on the right side of the page. This choice, though useful, might become tricky, for instance in the cases of transposition (Adv. p. 122, 13-15 is transposed after Adv. p. 121, 26 [p. 78 Dumarty] and Adv. p. 124, 8-14 afterAdv. 123, 16 τύπτεσθε [p. 80 Dumarty]).

There are two different apparatus: first, the an apparatus with the indirect transmission of Adv. (which follows, as Dumarty himself states on p. 62, Schneider’s one) and then the apparatus criticus. The latter is rather precise, indicating each time that A is no longer legible. A clearer division between the lectiones and the conjectures would have eased the reading of the apparatus. For instance, see the apparatus ad Adv. 119, 3 (ὑποσταλήσεται Bek. Schn.1: ὑποστα non iam leguntur in A ante ησεται lacunam ind. L ὑποδιασταλήσεται prop. Egg. Egenolff), which would could have been written more clearly as: ὑποσταλήσεται Bek. Schn.1: ὑποστ-[7] non iam leguntur in A : ante ησεται lacunam ind. L : ὑποδιασταλήσεται prop. Egg. Egenolff.

The French translation is accurate and is accompanied by some notes mostly indicating the source of a quotation, giving some short definition of technical terms or referring to the commentary. The latter represents the most important part of Dumarty’s work and it is organised on three different levels:

1. First of all, Dumarty provides a general overview of the passage, merely reporting Apollonius’ arguments;
2. Then, Dumarty analyses in detail some lines of Apollonius’ text, with references to Adv. in general and to the ancient grammarians;
3. Finally, Dumarty discusses single textual problems or analyses the technical terms used by Apollonius.

In addition, Dumarty adds some footnotes to the commentary with references to bibliography or parallel passages. This enormous amount of material is what makes Dumarty’s work precious, albeit not so easy to manage due to its magnitude. The wealth of information provided by Dumarty for every discussion is very useful and precise – the inaccuracies are few (for instance, p. 489 ad Adv. p. 196, 5 he quotes Schol. in Od. VII, 13 from Dindorf’s edition and not from Pontani’s one).

Overall, the book is well presented with a few typographical errors: e. g. p. 76, the number 76 is printed within the first apparatus; p. 135 ad Adv. p. 155, 14, in order to maintain the same exact numeration as Schneider, the space between the letters is compressed.

Dumarty’s edition will surely become a reference work for any scholar interested not only in Apollonius as an author, but also, more broadly, for all those scholars involved in ancient grammar, linguistics and philology.


[1] See Apollonius Dyscole, De la construction (Syntaxe), I-II, text grec accompagné de notes critiques, introduction, traduction, notes exégétiques, index par J. Lallot, Paris 1997 (for the first book see more recently: M. Callipo, Verso la frase ben costruita. Il primo libro della Sintassi di Apollonio Discolo, Roma-Acireale 2017); Apollonius Dyscole, Traité des conjonctions, Introduction, texte, traduction et commentaire par C. Dalimier, Paris 2001; Apollonios Dyscolos, Über das Pronomen, Einführung, Text, Übersetzung und Erläuterungen, von P. Bradenburg, München-Leipzig 2005. The only previous translation of Adv. in a modern language is not mentioned by Dumarty but remained unpublished (S. Brocquet, Traduction annotée du Traité des adverbes d’Apollonius Dyscole, Mémoire de maîtrise, Paris IV-Sorbonne, 1982).

[2] Dumarty is not satisfied with any of the solutions provided by scholars regarding the relative chronology of monographs, but he does not make any new proposals.

[3] On Tryphon see A. Ippolito, s. u. Tryphon [1], in LGGA..

[4] See Dumarty at p. 25 (who cites S. Matthaios, Das Adverb in der Grammatikographie der griechischen Antike, «Beiträge zur Geschichte der Sprachwissenschaft» 17, 2007, pp. 13-58: 29-45).

[5] Together with the bibliography quoted by Dumarty at p. 55 n.3, see also F. Ronconi, Per una tipologia del codice miscellaneo greco in epoca mediobizantina, «S&T» 2, 2004, pp. 145-182: 165-167 (and tav. 14).

[6] L. Dumarty, Le statut du manuscrit de Leyde dans l’édition du traité Des Adverbes d’Apollonius Dyscole, «Commentaria Classica» 1, 2014, pp. 23-37.

[7] I correct the apparatus since the α seems legible at f. 114r l. 4.