Apollodorus. A Greek grammarian of Athens, was a son of Asclepiades, and a pupil
of the grammarian Aristarchus, of Panaetius, and Diogenes the Babylonian. He flourished
about the year B. C. 140, a few years after the fall of Corinth. Further particulars
are not mentioned about him. We know that one of his historical works (the chronika)
came down to the year B. C. 143, and that it was dedicated to Attalus II., surnamed
Philadelphus, who died in B. C. 138; but how long Apollodorus lived after the
year B. C. 143 is unknown. Apollodorus wrote a great number of works, and on a
variety of subjects, which were much used in antiquity, but all of them have perished
with the exception of one, and even this one has not come down to us complete.
This work bears the title Bibliopheke; it consists of three books, and is by far
the best among the extant works of the kind. It contains a well-arranged account
of the numerous mythuses of the mythology and the heroic age of Greece. The materials
are derived from the poets, especially the eyelic poets, the logograph(ers, and
the historians. It begins with the origin of the gods, and goes down to the time
of Theseus, when the work suddenly breaks off. The part which is wanting at the
end contained the stories of the families of Pelops and Atreus, and probably the
whole of the Trojan cycle also. The first portion of the work (i. 1-7) contains
the ancient theogonie and cosmogonie mythuses, which are followed by the Hellenic
mythuses, and the latter are arranged according to the different tribes of the
Greek nation (Phot. Cod. 186). The ancients valued this work very highly, as it
formed a running mythological conmmentary to the Greek poets; to us it is of still
greater value, as most of the works from which Apollodorus derived his information,
as well as several other works which were akin to that of Apollodorus, are now
lost. Apollodorus relates his mythical stories in a plain and unadorned style,
and gives only that which he found in his sources, without interpolating or perverting
the genuine forms of the legends by attempts to explain their meaning. This extreme
simplicity of the Bibliotheca, more like a mere catalogue of events, than a history,
has led some modern critics to consider the work in its present form either as
an abridgement of some greater work of Apollodorus, or as made up out of several
of his works. But this opinion is a mere hypothesis without any evidence.
The first edition of the Bibliotheca of Apollodorus, in which the
text is in a very bad condition, was edited by Benedictus Aegius of Spoleto, at
Rome, 1555. A somewhat better edition is that of Heidelberg, 1599. After the editions
of Tan. Faber (Salmur. 1661), and Th. Gale in his Script. Hist. poet. (Paris,
1675), there followed the critical edition of Ch. G. Heyne, Gottingen, 1782 and
83, of which a second and improved edition appeared in 1803. The best among the
subsequent editions is that of Clavier, Paris, 1805, with a commentary and a French
translation. The Bibliotheca is also printed in C. and Th. Muller, Fragment. Hist.
Graec., Paris, 1841, and in A. Westermann's Mythographi, sive Scriptores Poeticae
Histor. Graevi, 1843.
Among the other works ascribed to Apollodorus which are lost, but
of which a considerable number of fragments are still extant, which are contained
in Heyne's edition of the Bibliotheca and in C. and Th. Muller's Fragm. Hist.
Graec., the following must be noticed here:
1. Peri ton Aphenesin hetairon, i. e. on the Athenian Courtezans.
2. Antigraphe pros ten Aristokleous epistnlen.
3. Tes periodos, komikoi metroi, that is, a Universal Geography in iambie verses,
such as was afterwards written by Scymnus of Chios and by Dionysins.
4. Peri Eticharmou, either a commentary or a dissertation on the plays of the
comic poet Epicharmus, which consisted of ten books.
5. Etumologiai, or Etymologies, a work which is frequently referred to, though
not always under this title, but sometimes apparently under that of the head of
a particular article.
6. Peri Deon, in twenty-four books. This work containdi the mythology of the Greeks,
as far as the gods themseives were concerned; the Bibliotheca, giving an account
of the heroic ages, formed a kind of continuation to it.
7. Peri neon katalogou or peri neon, was an historical and geographical explanation
of the catalogue in the second book of the Iliad. It consisted of twelve books,
and is frequently cited by Strabo and other ancient writers.
8. Perpi Sophronos, that is, a commentary on the Mimes of Sophron, of which the
third book is quoted by Athenaeus (vii. p. 281), and the fourth by the Schol.
9. Chronika or chronike suntaxis, was a chronicle in iambic verses, comprising
the history of 1040 years, from the destruction of Troy (1184) down to his own
time, B. C. 143. This work, which was again a sort of continuation of the Bibliotheca,
thus completed the history from the origin of the gods and the world down to his
own time. Of how many books it consisted is not quite certain. In Stephanus of
Byzantium the fourth book is mentioned, but if Syncellus refers to this work,
it must have consisted of at least eight books. The loss of this work is one of
the severest that we have to lament in the historical literature of antiquity.
This text is from: A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology, 1873 (ed. William Smith). Cited Oct 2005 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks
- A dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology (ed. William Smith)