Apollonius is the greatest grammarian of Greek and Roman antiquity. He spoke and wrote Greek, and appears to have lived in Alexandria. We lack accurate dates for his life: we only know that Aelius Herodian—Apollonius’ son—dedicated his great treatise on accentuation to Marcus Aurelius, emperor from ad 161 to 180.1

Apollonius’ interests ranged wide: he wrote more than thirty treatises on questions of syntax, semantics, morphology, prosody, orthography, dialectology, and more. Happily, four of these are preserved—we still have a Syntax in four books, and three one-book monographs on pronouns, adverbs, and connectives, respectively.2 The three shorter works survive thanks to a single manuscript, the Parisinus graecus 2548, a parchment from the early tenth century. Its good fortune is of no small importance for our knowledge of ancient grammar: Apollonius is the first Greek grammarian of whom we possess a work in its entirety.

Apollonius’ influence on all later linguistic thought was prodigious. Be it in Alexandria or in Constantinople, in Edessa or in Sicily, scholars studied, taught, interpreted, excerpted, and translated his works without interruption till the dawn of the Modern Age: one especially consequential case is Priscian, whose celebrated Latin grammar is based upon Apollonius’ works;3 but there are many others. Through them the Dyscolus has become one of the founding fathers of European thought on language.

  1. See the Life of Apollonius Dyscolus, last edited by Schneider (1910: xi), and translated by Bécares Botas (1987: 26), Lallot (1997: 1.10), Brandenburg (2005: 13). 

  2. For bibliographical details, see my Editions and Translations of Apollonius’ Works (each of which is a subset of the Complete Bibliography on Apollonius Dyscolus). 

  3. For a recent case study, see Schmidhauser (2009)