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A New Gnomologium: with some Remarks on Gnomic Anthologies (I)

  • John Barns (a1)

This papyrus was acquired, with some others, for the Egypt Exploration Society in 1914 at Medînet-el-Faiyûm by Dr. John Johnson. It consists of five large pieces; of these four join and together measure 37 × 24·5 cm.; they contain remains of three adjacent columns. Another piece measures 5 × 13·5 cm., and a small unplaced scrap (Fr. A) 4·5 × 3·7 cm. The writing of the recto, which runs along the fibres, is large, regular, rounded, and clear, but not elegant; I would assign it to the second century B.C. The verso was written across the fibres; the hand may be the same, but seems more cursive; the surface is very damaged and no whole word is legible. A certain irregularity in the spacing of letters and lines suggests that the papyrus was used again for a document.

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page 132 note 1 The word λειμών constantly recurs in connexion with the concept of ⋯νθολογ⋯α (cf., for example, Themist, . Or. iv, p. 54 B: ἄνθη ⋯κ⋯ρατα συλλεξ⋯μενος ⋯κ τ⋯ν Πλ⋯τωνος κα⋯ Ἀριστοτ⋯λους λειμώνων) as the wide and varied field from which the literary selector gathers his flowers or his honey. The name was perhaps only later transferred to the result of selection—compilations of extracts of one kind or another—see Pliny, , N.H., preface, § 23; Gellius, , N.A., Preface, § 6; Clem. Alex. Strom. 1. 11. 1; 6. 2. 1; 7. 111. 1. on this and other metaphorical titles for books of miscellaneous content, some of which were certainly, and others (for instance, Κηρ⋯ον) very probably anthologies, See Dölger, , Sitzb. d. bay. Akad. d. Wiss., Phil.-hist. Abt., Munich, 1936, pp. 22 ff.

page 133 note 1 So appropriate is the name that one is tempted to substitute it for the more usual term Gnomologium, which has not very good ancient authority (see Horna, P.-W., Suppl. vi (1935), 75), and has not hitherto been adopted in the case of collections containing long extracts, such as that of Stobaeus and that attributed Cercidas (for which see later). Gnomologium has nevertheless been used throughout this article for gnomic anthology; the term florilegium has been avoided as too non-committal.

page 134 note 1 Edited by SirBudge, A. Wallis, ‘The Book of the Bee’, Anecd. Oxon., Semitic Series, vol. i, part ii (1886).

page 134 note 2 It is natural for a lover of literature to copy a passage from a work which he has read and which has taken his fancy, with a view to its further perusal or recitation (cf. Plato, , Phaedr. 276 D). We are no more surprised to hear Aristophanes (Frogs 151) deplore the bad taste of one who has copied out a speech from a play of Morsimus than we are to find Phidippides reciting a passage of Euripides' Aeolus at dinner (Clouds 1371). In the papyri we have several examples of apparently random transcriptions like this: the Didot papyrus, from the Serapeum; another Serapeum papyrus, for which see Calderini, , Aegyptus xv, pp. 239–45; perhaps also the Strasbourg papyrus edited by Crönert, , Nachr. Gött. Gesellsch., phil.-hist. Kl., 1922, pp. 1726; Lewis, N., Études de Papyrologie, iii (1936); Snell, B., Hermes, Einzelschr., Heft v (1937), pp. 69 ff. Texts which like these are unlikely to have contained more than a few pieces, arranged on no particular system, are hardly to be dignified by the term ‘anthology’, however interesting their content. Yet we are reminded by the texts in Berl. Kl. Texte V. 15, which seem to have been written out with a view to recitation on the specific occasion of a dinner-party, that in the preparation of choice pieces, γν⋯μαι and ῥ⋯σεις, for recitation at social gatherings—a custom which was evidently of high antiquity—some scholars, for instance Reitzenstein, in Epigramm und Skolion, have seen the origin of the Stephanos. This inquiry cannot, however, be pursued here.

page 135 note 1 The basic distinction is sometimes slurred over; for instance by Knox, A. D., The First Greek Anthologist, p. 12.

page 135 note 2 Reviewed by Roberts, C. H., C.R., lii (1938), p. 241; Körte, , Archiv, xiii (1938), pp. 104 ff.

page 135 note 3 So does Marrou, H.-I., Hist, de l'éduc. dans l'antiquité, pp. 214 ff., while recognizing the difficulty of the editors' view.

page 135 note 4 There is also the possibility that it was intended for the teaching of shorthand. The method would be somewhat the same, though of course the pupils would be older.

For instruction in the elements of pronunciation and orthography in ancient schools see Beudel, , Qua ratione Graeci liberos docuerint (Diss. Münster, 1911), pp. 6 ff.; Ziebarth, , Schulwesen, pp. 123 ff. For examples of exercises from the of ancient schoolroom see Ziebarth, Texte aus der antiken Schule. For texts divided syllabically by points, cf. B.M. Lit. Pap. 255—a passage of of Isocrates Ad Demonicum whose text has been so altered as not to be readily recognizable. This syllabic division reminds us of the schoolboy in Herodas' Διδ⋯σκαλος who stammers out a speech of Euripides syllable by syllable as if just learning to pronounce; and see Headlam's commentary on this mime for ancient authorities on methods of teaching pronunciation and spelling.

page 136 note 1 See Lechner, M., Erziehung und Bildung in der griechisch-römischen Antike, Munich, 1933, p. 82.

page 136 note 2 Horna, , art. cit. 78.

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