A scholion provides an explanation of a text passage that is difficult in terms of language or content. Scholia are entered in the margin of a text (as marginal scholia) or between the lines (as interlinear scholia). Their unknown authors are called scholiasts . If such a note only serves to briefly define a little-known term (often a foreign word) from the text - for example by simply specifying a synonym - it is called a gloss . The transition between glosses and scholias (more detailed explanations) is fluid.
Scholia-like explanations existed as early as the 5th century BC. Chr .; they were needed for the Homer reading, which is compulsory in Athenian school lessons . Remnants of it are preserved in the traditional Homer scholias. In the epoch of Hellenism , philologists used to publish text editions and commentaries separately. Since the early imperial period it became customary to add explanations above, below or next to the text; The term scholia is used specifically for this type of explanation.
The term scholion is first attested to by Cicero , who used it in a letter to his friend Atticus ( Ad Atticum 16,7,3). There, however , scholion does not yet have the usual meaning later, but describes a document intended as a reminder. With the meaning “brief explanatory note”, the word appears for the first time in the 2nd century in Galen , Lukian and in Arrian's collection of doctrinal conversations from Epictetus .
The scholiasts took the content of their remarks from ancient commentaries on the works that they furnished with scholias. Since these commentaries have mostly not survived, scholia are valuable sources. They give an impression of how one interpreted the commented text - mostly the eagerly studied works by school authors - in the time in which the lost commentary was made, and what background information one possessed or believed to possess and how one dealt with problems of textual criticism at the time. The scholia are also important because they influenced the understanding of the text by contemporaries and posterity. In addition, the scholias sometimes contain text variants that have not otherwise been handed down; then they can be used for text criticism .
Because of their high value for the history of literature , scholia are the subject of separate critical editions . Determining the sources from which the Scholien texts are taken and dating them often prove difficult.
The scholia to Homer's Iliad have been particularly well researched . There are also scholias relating to other important Greek authors such as Hesiod , Aeschylus , Sophocles , Euripides , Aristophanes , Thucydides , Plato , Isocrates , Demosthenes and Aratos by Soloi . The Latin authors whose works were provided with scholias in manuscripts include Terence , Cicero , Virgil , Horace , Ovid , Lukan , Statius , Persius and Juvenal . The Scholia Bembina for comedies by Terenz are famous ; in the 6th century they were entered in the Codex Bembinus , a late antique Terence manuscript.