Παρασκευή 15 Μαρτίου 2024

Dionysius Thrax

Dionysius Thrax (170–90 BC) was a Greek grammarian and student of Aristarchus of Samothrace. He was long considered the author of the earliest grammatical text for the Greek language, which was used as a standard textbook for about 1,500 years, and which until recently was considered the basis of the entire Western grammatical tradition.

He was born around the middle of the 2nd century BC. in Alexandria by father Teris (Tiris) who came from Byzantium in Thrace, hence his surname.
Rudolf Pfeiffer dates his move to the island of Rhodes around 144/143 BC, when political unrest associated with the policies of Ptolemy VIII Euergetes II is believed to have led to his exile. According to a reference in the Deipnosophistai of the ancient Greek Athenaeus of Naucratida in Egypt (11.489a, b), his Rhodian students, grateful for his learning, collected enough silver to enable him to make a cup whose shape he aspired to recreate that of Nestor mentioned in the Iliad (Book 11, lines 632–637).

Dionysius was primarily a Homeric scholar, which was an integral part of his training under Aristarchus in Alexandria. His work shows some influence of earlier Stoic grammatical theory, particularly on word categories. He is also mentioned by Varro to have been a wise analyst of Greek lyric poetry, perhaps referring to the linguistic and prosodic use of this material. He wrote prolifically in three genres: philological questions (grammatical); current commentaries (memorials) and treatises (constitutional). In the latter genre, he wrote a polemical monograph criticizing Homeric interpretations of the State. Another work he is said to have written was On Quantities. From the surviving schools of the critical works of Aristonicus and Didymus that drew on Dionysius's work it is clear that he was decidedly independent in his textual judgments of the Homeric corpus, since he often contradicts the known readings of his master. His teaching may have had a formative impact on the rise of Roman grammatical studies if, as an entry in the Suda suggests, Tyrannius the Elder was one of his students. The founder of classical education in Rome, L. Aelius Stilo may have benefited from Dionysius' instruction, as he accompanied Q. Metellus Numidicus to Rhodes when the latter went into self-imposed exile and while Dionysius was still teaching there.
Cover of the first English translation of the Grammar (Τέχνη Γραμματική) of Dionysius of Thrace.

Tékhnē grammatikē (Art Grammatica, Greek: Τέχνη Γραμματική)
The book Art Grammatica (lat. Ars Grammatica) is considered to have been compiled in the 2nd century. e.g. by the grammarian Dionysius of Thrace and is one of the first attempts at a systematic grammatical description of the language. The earliest surviving grammar is the Sanskrit grammar by the Indian grammarian Panini, 520–460 BCE).
The Greek text, in Augustus Immanuel Bekker's edition, runs to fifty pages. Its importance in Byzantine literature is evidenced by the fact that its commentaries by Byzantine commentators extend to about 600 pages. The text itself was thought to be the only surviving example of a work by Hellenistic scholars. This general consensus began to break down when examinations of later period grammatical texts emerged among the finds of the Oxyrhynchus papyri, which, until relatively late, showed no awareness of the basic elements of the text attributed to Dionysius of Thrace. It deals mainly with a morphological description of Greek, without any syntactic treatment. The work was translated into Armenian sometime around the 5th to 6th century AD. and in Syriac by Joseph Huzaya at the same time.

Fatherhood and authenticity
Dionysius Thrax, a student of the Alexandrian grammarian Aristarchus, died around 90 BC. His views are part of the broad circle of Hellenistic literature with influences from both Aristotle and the Stoic philosophers. Several scholars, however, have come to the conclusion that the Grammatical Art is not his own work, but was composed later, around the 4th century. A.D. The work's fragmentary tradition and apparent discontinuity after the fifth chapter have led to both its authorship and unity being questioned.

Some arguments of the supporters of the latter view are the following:

The work does not seem to follow the structure announced by its first paragraph.
The first five chapters, which are archaic in character, seem detached from the rest of the work, and are supposed by some to have been inserted later as a preface to a later grammar.
The Grammatical Art does not consistently present views of Dionysius of Thrace that we already know from other sources.
The only indirect evidence for the work before the 4th c. AD, in this case the quotations from it come exclusively from the first five chapters.
The first copies of the Art of Grammar date back to the 5th century. A.D.
The remaining grammars compiled up to the 4th c. A.D. (such as the famous Ars minor and Ars major of Aelius Donatus, c. 350 AD) do not mention Grammatical Art at all.
The answer to these arguments has been given that probably the Grammatical Art has reached us significantly modified and, as happened with many works of antiquity, a large part of it has been lost. Given the strong influence the work has exerted on all school-type grammars compiled since then, it is assumed that this would not have been possible if, when the work was written, it did not express unified and consistent linguistic views.

The content of Art Grammar
The Art of Grammar has been written concisely, methodically and clearly. Dionysius, relying on the observation of the language of the apprentice writers, attempted to systematize, not just its structure, but the characteristics that made it so special.

In the preface to the work, Dionysios sets out the program of the Art of Grammar as follows:

Grammar is the experience of poets and they write as if they were talking about a lot. There are six parts to this: firstly, a prosody reading, secondly, an explanation according to the existing poetic modes, thirdly, a rough rendition of languages and stories, fourthly, a finding of etymology, fifthly, an analysis of analogy, sixthly, a critique of poems, which does not suit everything in the poem. хнῃ.
As it follows from the preamble, the programmatic purpose of the work is essentially the verification of literaryness, not the description of linguistic structure, which surprises the reader of modern grammars. However, thereafter Dionysius actually deals only with the fifth point of the program, i.e. with the detection of regularity (or proportionality) in language.

The titles of the sections following the preamble are characteristic:

(a) ἀνάγνωσις ἐντριβὴς κατὰ προσῳδίαν (anagnōsis...): reading aloud with correct pronunciation, accent and punctuation.
(b) ἐξήγησις κατὰ τοὺς ἐνυπάρχοντας ποιητικοὺς τρόπους (exēgēsis...): exposition of the tropes/τρόποι, the figurative language of texts.
(c) ἀπόδοσις πρόχειρος γλωσσῶν τε καὶ ἰστοριῶν (apodosis...): common exposition of obsolete words and subject matter.
(d) εὕρεσις ἐτυμολογίας (heuresis...): finding the correct meaning of words according to their origin (etymology).
(e) ἐκλογισμὸς ἀναλογίας (eklogismos...): setting forth or considering analogies.
(f) κρίσις ποιημάτων (krisis...): critical judgement of the works examined.
Paragraph 6 outlines the στοιχεῖα (stoikheia) or letters of the alphabet, together with the divisions into vowels, diphthongs and consonants.

Paragraphs 7–10 deal with syllables, long (μακραὶ συλλαβαί), short (βραχεῖαι συλλαβαί) and anceps (κοιναὶ συλλαβαί).

Paragraph 11 treats the eight-word classes, though strong doubts exist as to whether or not this division goes back to Dionysius Thrax, since ancient testimonies assert that he conflated proper nouns and appellatives, and classified the article together with pronouns. In the text attributed to Dionysius, the eight classes. which Di Benedetto and others argue was probably developed by Tryphon several decades after Dionysius, are as follows:

(a) the 'name' (ὄνομα ónoma), translated as noun: a part of speech inflected for case. Its three genders: masculine (ἀρσενικόν), feminine (θηλυκόν) and neutral (οὐδέτερον) are distinguished, together with the five case endings. He also notes however that two other terms are also in use: κοινόν (common) designating those words whose gender varies depending on the sex of the creature, such as ἵππος (hippos 'horse') and ἐπίκοινον (epicene) used to define words whose gender is stable, but which can refer to either sex, instancing χελιδών (khelidōn 'swallow'). The name includes various species like nouns, adjectives, proper nouns, appellatives, collectives, ordinals, numerals and more.
For example, the appellative (προσηγορία), which he considers a species (εἶδος) of the proper noun, not a distinct part of speech.
(b) the verb (ῥῆμα) with its tenses.
(c) the participle (μετοχή)
(d) the article (ἄρθρον)
(e) the pronoun (ἀντωνυμία)
(f) the preposition (πρόθεσις)
(g) the adverb (ἐπίρρημα)
(h) the conjunction (σύνδεσμος)
Paragraphs 12-20 then elaborate successively on the parts of speech.