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(-garland of flowers). The Greek word anthologia means a collection of short, especially epigrammatic poems, by various authors; we still possess one such collection dating from antiquity. Collections of inscriptions in verse had more than once been set on foot in early times for antiquarian purposes. The first regular anthology, entitled Stephanos (- wreath), was attempted by Meleager of Gadara in the 1st century B.C.; it contained, beside his own compositions, poems arranged according to their initial letters, by forty-six contemporary and older authors, including Archilochus, Alcaeus, Sappho, Anacreon, Simonides, etc., together with a prologue still extant. This collection was enriched, about 100 A.D., by Philippus of Thessalonica, with select epigrams by about thirteen later authors. Other collections were undertaken soon after by Diogenianus of Heracleia and Straton of Sardis, and in the 6th century by Agathias of Myrina, in whose Kyklos the poems are for the first time arranged according to subjects. Out of these collections, now all lost, Constantinus Cephalas of Constantinople, in the 10th century, put together a new and comprehensive anthology, classified according to contents in fifteen sections. From this collection the monk Maximus Planudes, in the 14th century, made an extract of seven books, which was the only one known till the year 1606. In that year the French scholar Saumaise (Salmasius) discovered in the Palatine Library at Heidelberg a complete manuscript of the anthology of Constantinus Cephalas with sundry additions. This MS., with all the other treasures of the library, was carried off to Rome in 1623, whence it was taken to Paris in 1793, and back to Heidelberg in 1816. The epigrams of the Greek anthology, dating as they do from widely distant ages down to the Byzantine, and being the production of more than three hundred different authors, are of very various merit; but many of them are among the pearls of Greek poetry, and could hardly have survived unless enshrined in such a collection. Taken together with the rich store of epigrams found in inscriptions, the Anthology opens to us a view of the development of this branch of Greek literature such as we can scarcely obtain in the case of any other, besides affording valuable information on Hellenic language, history, and manners, at the most different periods. Roman literature has no really ancient collection of so comprehensive a character, the so-called Latin Anthology having been gathered by modern scholars out of the material found scattered in various MSS. Among these, it is true, Saumaise's MS. of the 7th century, now in Paris, has a collection of about 380 poems, but these, with a few exceptions, are of very late authorship.
Type: Standard
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