Zenodotus of Ephesus

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Zenodotus of Ephesus ( Ζηνόδοτος ), Zenodot for short , (* around 333 BC or 323 BC ; † around 260 BC in Alexandria ) was a Greek philologist from Ephesus . He was a student of Philetas and a teacher of the later King Ptolemy II. In 284 BC. In BC he was appointed by Ptolemy I to be the first director of the great library of Alexandria , where he built the basis of the largest collection of scriptures of antiquity .


The records about the life of Zenodotus are sparse and are mainly based on the entry in the Suda published around 970 . Concrete life data are not available. The biographer Hesychios von Milet gives the year 323 BC as the beginning of his life. Chr., However, this is interpreted more as an indication of the Akme . It is likely that he was around 333 BC. Born in Ephesus and around 260 BC. Died in Alexandria. The earliest documented event in his life is the upbringing of Ptolemy I's children , especially Ptolemy II.


Zenodotos is considered the founder of textual criticism in epic and poetry . In any case, he published the first critical text edition of the Homertexte ( Iliad and Odyssey ) on the basis of various manuscripts, probably also with conjectures . He has not justified his decisions in a commentary or in a treatise, but there seems to have been an oral tradition about them. On the other hand, he made a dictionary on Homer. It is important that he did not suppress verses whose authenticity he doubted, but only expressed his view in the margin of the column with an "obelos" - the foundation of the scientific method to allow later researchers the possibility of verification. It is not certain whether the division of the two epics into 24 chants each goes back to him. His work was continued mainly by Aristophanes of Byzantium .

Zenodotus also worked on other poets than Homer, especially Hesiod , Pindar and Anacreon .


  1. Suda , keyword Zenodotos ( Ζηνόδοτος ), Adler number: zeta 74 , Suda-Online


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