Dionysios Thrax

Dionysios Thrax

Postby ed krentz » September 23rd, 2012, 2:25 pm

Some time ago someone said that the ancient Grammarian Dionysios Thrax was later than the first century B.C. All the sources I have for classical Greek date his grammar to the first century (OCD 3rd ed., Der Kleine Pauly, etc.).

I would appreciate the bibliography that gives the evidence for the later dating, if someone can supply it.

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Re: Dionysios Thrax

Postby MAubrey » September 23rd, 2012, 4:10 pm

ed krentz wrote:Some time ago someone said that the ancient Grammarian Dionysios Thrax was later than the first century B.C. All the sources I have for classical Greek date his grammar to the first century (OCD 3rd ed., Der Kleine Pauly, etc.).

I would appreciate the bibliography that gives the evidence for the later dating, if someone can supply it.

Edgar Krentz


If you're talking about my statement from this thread: Re: Noun Case Endings & Verb Endings, then you've slightly misread my statement. I definitely do think that Dionysius Thrax did live around the first or second centuries B.C. And he definitely wrote a grammar during that time. The question is how much of it still exists. In the previous thread, Stephen Carlson asked a related question and I gave a bibliography. Those works are still relevant to this question, so I reproduce it here with a couple more annotations:

Classicists:
Blank, David. “The Organization of Grammar in Ancient Greek.” Pages 400-417 in History of the Language Sciences. Vol 1. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2000.

Swiggers, Peter and Alfons Wouters. “Content and Context in (Translating) Ancient Grammar.” Pages 123-61 in Ancient Grammar: Content and Context. Leuven: Peeters, 1996.

Linguists:
Di Benedetto, Vincenzo. “Dionysius Thrax and the Tékhnē Grammatikḗ.” Pages 394-400 in History of the Language Sciences. Vol 1. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 2000.

Harris, Roy and Talbot Taylor, Landmarks in Linguistic Thought: The Western Tradition from Socrates to Saussure. London: Routledge, 1997.

Classicist Linguists:
Matthews, P. H. “Greek and Latin Linguistics.” Pages 2-133 in History of Linguistics: Classical and Medieval Linguistics. Ed. Guilio Lepschy. English Ed. 4 vols. New York: Longman, 1994.

Linguist Historians:
Robins, R. H. A Short History of Linguistics. 3rd ed. London: Longman, 1997.

______. The Byzantine Grammarians: Their Place in History. Berlin: Mouton de Gruypter, 1993.

But I just remembered that I also have in Kindle another source on the question that's much more accessible than these monographs (some of which are incredibly expensive and relatively difficult to find):

Eleanor Dickey's Ancient Greek Scholarship: A Guide to Finding, Reading, and Understanding Scholia, Commentaries, Lexica, and Grammatical Treatise, from Their Beginnings to the Byzantine Period is an excellent little volume that can be had rather cheaply and is quite a unique and useful resource for for the contemporary state of research on Ancient Greek scholarship. Here's the first paragraph from her discussion of Thrax:

Eleanor Dickey (with my emphasis added) wrote:A short, simple grammatical introduction entitled Τέχη γραμματική is traditionally attributed to Dionysius (c.170-c.90 BC), a pupil of Aristarchus. This handbook was enormously influential from late antiquity onward and is certainly one of the most important surviving grammatical works. If the attribution to Dionysius can be trusted, the handbook is also the only Hellenistic grammatical treatise to survive to modern times. Dionysius' authorship, however, has been doubted since antiquity and has recently been the focus of considerable discussion; some scholars maintain that the entire treatise is a compilation of the third or fourth century AD, while others defend its complete authenticity and date it to the end of the second century BC. There is also a range of intermediate positions, which in recent years have gained much ground against both the more extreme views: some portion of the beginning of the work could go back to Dionysius, while the rest was written later, or the entire work (or sections of it) could be originally Dionysius' but seriously altered (and perhaps abridged) by later writers. Some argue that if the Τέχη is spurious, we must revise our whole view of the development of Greek grammatical thought, to put the creation of fully developed grammatical analysis in the first century BC. Others maintain that Aristarchus and his followers already possessed an advanced grammatical system and that the date of the Τέχη therefore makes little difference to our view of the evolution of grammar.

Eleanor Dickey. Ancient Greek Scholarship: A Guide to Finding, Reading, and Understanding Scholia, Commentaries, Lexica, and Grammatical Treatises: From Their Beginnings to the Byzantine Period (Kindle Locations 1294-1303). Kindle Edition.


To the best of my knowledge, the general consensus currently is that only the beginning portion can be confidently attributed to Dionysius himself, with the rest of the treatise being from the later centuries. Also, OCD's statement in its entry on Dionysius Thrax that it has only been in recent years that Τέχη's authenticity has been questioned is very much false. As Dickey says, his authorship, "has been doubted since antiquity."

I hope that helps clarify things...
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Re: Dionysios Thrax

Postby cwconrad » September 24th, 2012, 8:27 am

MAubrey wrote:... Eleanor Dickey's Ancient Greek Scholarship: A Guide to Finding, Reading, and Understanding Scholia, Commentaries, Lexica, and Grammatical Treatise, from Their Beginnings to the Byzantine Period is an excellent little volume that can be had rather cheaply and is quite a unique and useful resource for for the contemporary state of research on Ancient Greek scholarship. Here's the first paragraph from her discussion of Thrax:

Eleanor Dickey (with my emphasis added) wrote:A short, simple grammatical introduction entitled Τέχη γραμματική is traditionally attributed to Dionysius (c.170-c.90 BC), a pupil of Aristarchus. ...


That should be Τέχνη γραμματική -- throughout.
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Re: Dionysios Thrax

Postby MAubrey » September 24th, 2012, 10:42 am

Thanks, Carl. That was my mistake, The kindle edition turn the Greek into corrupted text when I pasted it in and when I realized it I went back to hurriedly type in the errors...a little too hurriedly.
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Re: Dionysios Thrax

Postby Alan Patterson » September 26th, 2012, 7:01 am

M Aubrey wrote:

To the best of my knowledge, the general consensus currently is that only the beginning portion can be confidently attributed to Dionysius himself, with the rest of the treatise being from the later centuries.


On what basis is this statement made?
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Re: Dionysios Thrax

Postby MAubrey » September 26th, 2012, 11:52 am

Alan Patterson wrote:
MAubrey wrote: wrote:To the best of my knowledge, the general consensus currently is that only the beginning portion can be confidently attributed to Dionysius himself, with the rest of the treatise being from the later centuries.


On what basis is this statement made?


From the books I just cited (and a number of others that I didn't cite).
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Re: Dionysios Thrax

Postby Alan Patterson » September 27th, 2012, 6:59 am

Mike,

I guess what I meant was on what basis do these books/authors make the assertion that Thrax is likely the author of only the initial portion. What is the concensus based on, perhaps is a better way of asking? I hope I've clarified myself well enough for you or others to answer.
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Re: Dionysios Thrax

Postby MAubrey » September 27th, 2012, 2:13 pm

Ah, I see.

Well, I don't think I can answer that. I don't own most of the books that I listed above. I'm only borrowed and read them from the library of a university about an hour away, so I don't really have access to them to check. The few books that I do have don't deal with the question in sufficient. From what I *do have*...P. H. Matthews says the following which is partially useful, I think, in answering your question:

P. H. Matthews, “Greek and Latin Linguistics," 6-7 wrote:For the origin of grammar as such we have a text traditionally ascribed to Dionysius Thrax which, if genuine, is vitally important. We have already cited its definition of grammar, which is generally accepted. But the sections which follow deal with letters, syllables, nouns, verbs, and other parts of speech in a way that is not only unrelated to this definition, but also strikingly similar to their treatment by Donatus and other grammarians of the late Empire. If they are genuine, then grammatical description had already been fixed at least in one tradition, by the end of the second century BC, and the subsequent history is largely that of sheep following sheep. But an alternative explanation is that this material was attached to Dionysius' name, perhaps by a process of rewriting or mangling an existing treatise, in the period after Apollonius Dyscholus. As a compendium it is very neat and, like the grammars of Donatus, it has had immense influence. But it is not safe to take it as evidence for Doinysius' own time.

If this text is rejected, the only substantial source for linguistic analysis in this period is the De Lingua Latina ('On the Latin Language') of Varro, from the mid first century BC. Only a fragment survives (six books, with lacunae, of an original 25), and we are obliged to read it largely out of context, except for that which Varro himself supplies.

Given the deficiencies in our sources, and the discrepancies between ancient categories of inquiry and our own, no survey of ancient linguistics can entirely escape a charge of distortion. A balanced history is not possible, or possible only at a general level. It is clear, for instance, that the earliest grammarians borrowed many categories from Stoic philosophy. But it is hard to say in detail what they borrowed and what adaptions they made: our sources for Stoic doctrine are inadequate, the earliest grammatical texts are arguably three centuries after the event, and no ancient doxographer himself addresses this issue.


From this what the quote from Dickey, I'd guess its a combination of:

(1) Ancient sources that questioned its authenticity
(2) The notable shift between Dionysius' definition of grammar compared to the actual content that follows
(3) The fact that the material following Dionysius' definition is clearly represented elsewhere in other sources.

Number (3) is only meaningful in relationship to number (2) and together they are really only given weight in relationship to number (1). There may be more, but again, I don't have the materials to do that research for you (nor the time, for that matter). I can only report to you what I have read on the topic.

Cited:
Matthews, P. H. “Greek and Latin Linguistics.” Pages 2-133 in History of Linguistics: Classical and Medieval Linguistics. Ed. Guilio Lepschy. English Ed. 4 vols. New York: Longman, 1994.
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Re: Dionysius Thrax

Postby Alan Patterson » September 28th, 2012, 6:17 am

Mike,

Your response is very much appreciated. I shall look into this further.
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