Zenodotus, Greek grammarian and critic, pupil of Philetas of Cos, was a native of Ephesus. He lived during the reigns of the first two Ptolemies, and was at the height of his reputation about 280 BC.

He was the first superintendent of the library at Alexandria and the first critical editor of Homer. His colleagues in the librarianship were Alexander of Aetolia and Lycophron of Chalcis, to whom were allotted the tragic and comic writers respectively, Homer and other epic poets being assigned to Zenodotus.

Although he has been reproached with arbitrariness and an insufficient knowledge of Greek, in his recension he undoubtedly laid a sound foundation for future criticism. Having collated the different manuscripts in the library, he expunged or obelized doubtful verses, transposed or altered lines, and introduced new readings. He divided the Homeric poems into books (with capitals for the Iliad, and small letters for the Odyssey), and possibly was the author of the calculation of the days of the Iliad in the Tabula Iliaca.

He does not appear to have written any regular commentary on Homer, but his Homeric lists of unusual words probably formed the source of the explanations of Homer attributed by the grammarians to Zenodotus. He also lectured upon Hesiod, Anacreon and Pindar, if he did not publish editions of them. He is further called an epic poet by Suidas, and three epigrams in the Greek Anthology are assigned to him.

There appear to have been at least two other grammarians of the same name:

Zenodotus of Alexandria,

Zenodotus of Mallus, the disciple of Crates, who like his master attacked Aristarchus.

See FA Wolf, Prolegomena ad Homerum, section 43 (1859 edition); H Düntzer, De Zenodoti studiis Homericis (1848) A Römer, Uber die Homerrecension des Zenodotus (Munich, 1885); F Susemihl, Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur in der Alexandrinerzeit, i. p. 330, ii. p. 14; JE Sandys, Hist. of Class. Schol. (1906), ad. 2, vol. i. pp. 119-121.

This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica.

See also

Alexandrian School


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