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Form: sometimes rendered in Latin by litteratura.
Greece. The term grammatica, in the scientific sense, included, in antiquity, all the philological disciplines, grammar proper, lexicography, prosody, the lower and higher criticism, antiquities, everything, in short, necessary to the understanding and explanation of grammata, or the treasures of literature, whether their form or their matter be in question. It was first developed into a special science during the Alexandrian age, in Alexandria and Pergamon, where the great libraries gave ample opportunity for philological studies on the scale above indicated. It was the restoration of the text of the Homeric poems, and the explanation of their words and contents, that primarily exercised the wits of the scholars. Hesiod, the lyric poets, the dramatists, and certain prose writers next engaged their attention. The progress and development of philology is marked by the names of Zenodotus (about 280 B.C.), Aristophanes of Byzantium (260-183), and Aristarchus (about 170), the three chief representatives of the Alexandrian school. To these must be added Crates (about 160), the head of the school of Pergamon, and the opponent of the Alexandrians. The name of Aristarchus represents the highest point of philological learning and criticism in antiquity. He was the founder of the celebrated school of the Aristarcheans, which continued to exist and to maintain an uninterrupted tradition, down to the first century of the imperial age. His disciple Dionysius Thrax wrote the oldest manual of grammar that we possess. By far the most celebrated of the later Aristarcheans was Didymus, born about 63 B.C. His writings are the chief foundation of the Byzantine collections of scholia. The science of grammatica gradually narrowed its scope till it confined itself to grammar in the restricted sense of the word, namely, accidence and syntax, combined with lexical researches into the dialects, and into the usages of special periods of literature, and special groups of authors. The most eminent scholars of the Empire are Apollonius Dyscolus (about 150 A.D.), who endeavoured to reduce the whole of empirical grammar to a system, and his son, Aelius Herodianus, a still more important personage. The writings of the latter form one of the chief authorities of the later grammarians, such as Arcadius. The lexical writings of the earlier scholars were often very comprehensive, and have only survived in fragments, or in later extracts, such as that of Hesychius. They had consisted mainly in collections of glosses, or strange and antiquated expressions. But in the 2nd Century A.D. the influence of the reviving sophistic literature and education turned the attention of lexicographers to the usage of the Attic writers. This tendency is represented in the surviving works of Pollux, Harpocration, and others. To the same period belongs Hephaestion's manual of prosody, which is the only complete treatise on this subject. Athenaeus, at the beginning of the 3rd century, wrote a work (the Deipnosophistoe) of inestimable value to the student of antiquities. Longinus, who died 273 A.D., may be regarded as the last considerable scholar of the ancient world. The later grammarians restricted themselves to compiling extracts from the works of earlier ages.
Type: Standard
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