1. A celebrated Alexandrian grammarian of the time of Cicero and the emperor Augustus.
He was a disciple or rather a follower of the school of Aristarchus (Ἀριστάρχειος
, Lehrs, de Aristarchi stud. Homer.
p. 18, &c.), and is said to have been the son of a dealer in salt fish.
He was the teacher of Apion, Heracleides Ponticus, and other eminent men of the time.
Didymus is commonly distinguished from other grammarians of the name of Didymus by the surname χαλκέντερος
, which he is said to have received from his indefatigable and unwearied application to study.
But he also bore the nickname of βιβλιολάθας
, for, owing to the multitude of his writings, it is said it often happened to him that he forgot what he had stated, and thus in later productions contradicted what he had said in earlier ones. Such contradictions happen the more easily the more a writer confines himself to the mere business of compiling ; and this seems to have been the case to a very great extent with Didymus, as we may infer from the extraordinary number of his works, even if it were not otherwise attested.
The sum total of his works is stated by Athenaeus (iv. p. 139) to have been 3,500, and by Seneca (Ep.
88) 4000. (Comp. Quint. Inst. 1.9.19
In this calculation, however, single books or rolls seem to be counted as separate works, or else many of them must have been very small treatises.
Criticism and Interpretation of Homer
The most interesting among his productions, all of which are lost, would have been those in which he treated on the Homeric poems, the criticism and interpretation of which formed the most prominent portion of his literary pursuits.
The greater part of what we now possess under the name of the minor Scholia on Homer, which were at one time considered the work of Didymus, is taken from the several works which Didymus wrote upon Homer. Among them was one on the Homeric text as constituted by Aristarchus (περὶ τῆς Ἀριστάρχου διορθώσεως
), a work which would be of great importance to us, as he entered into the detail of the criticisms of Aristarchus, and revised and corrected the text which the latter had established.
Commentaries on the Dramatic and Lyric Poets
But the studies of Didymus were not confined to Homer, for he wrote also commentaries on many other poets and prose writers of the classical times of Greece. We have mention of works of his on the lyric poets, and especially on Bacchylides (Theophyl. Ep.
8; Ammon. s. v. Νηρεΐδες
) and Pindar, and the better and greater part of our scholia on Pindar is taken from the commentary of Didymus. (Böckh, Praef. ad Schol. Pind.
p. xvii. &c.)
The same is the case with the extant scholia on Sophocles. (Richter, de Aeschyli, Sophoclis, et Euripidis interpretibus Graecis,
p. 106, &c.)
In the scholia on Aristophanes, too, Didymus is often referred to, and we further know that he wrote commentaries on Euripides, Ion, Phrynichus (Athen. 9.371
), Cratinus (Hesych. s. v. Κόρσακις ; Athen. 11.501
), Menander (Etymol. Gud. p. 338. 25), and others.
Commentaries on the Greek Orators
The Greek orators, Demosthenes, Isaeus, Hyperides, Deinarchus, and others, were likewise commented upon by Didymus.
On the phraseology of the Tragic Poets
Besides these numerous commentaries, we have mention of a work on the phraseology of the tragic poets (περὶ τραγῳδουμένης λέξως
), of which the 28th book is quoted. (Macr. 5.18
; Harpocrat. s. v. ξηραλοιφεῖν
A similar work (λέξις κωμική
) was written by him on the phraseology of the comic poets, and Hesychius made great use of it, as he himself attests in the epistle to Eulogius. (Comp. Etymol. M. p. 492. 53 ; Schol. ad Apollon. Rhod.
A third work of the same class was on words of ambiguous or uncertain meaning, and consisted of at least seven books; and a fourth treated on false or corrupt expressions.
Collection of Greek Proverbs
He further published a collection of Greek proverbs, in thirteen books (πρὸς τοὺς περὶ παροιμιῶν συντεταχότας
), from which is taken the greater part of the proverbs contained in the collection of Zenobius. (Schneidewin, Corpus Paroemiogr. Graec.
i. p. xiv.)
A work on the laws of Solon is mentioned by Plutarch (Plut. Sol. 1
) under the title περὶ τῶν ἀξόνων Σόλωνος
Work on Roman Literature
Didymus appears to have been acquainted even with Roman literature, for he wrote a work in six books against Cicero's treatise " de Re Publica," (Ammian. Marcell. 22.16), which afterwards induced Suetonius to write against Didymus. (Suid. s. v. Τραγκύλλος
.) Didymus stands at the close of the period in which a comprehensive and independent study of Greek literature prevailed, and he himself must be regarded as the father of the scholiasts who were satisfied with compiling or abridging the works of their predecessors.
Extracts in the
In the collection of the Geoponica there are various extracts bearing the name of Didymus, from which it might be inferred that he wrote on agriculture or botany; but it is altogether uncertain whether those extracts belong to our Alexandrian grammarian, or to some other writer of the same name.
Didymus the Naturalist vs. Didymus the Grammarian
It is very probable that, with Suidas, we ought to distinguish from our grammarian a naturalist Didymus.
The naturalist Didymus possibly may be the same as the one who wrote a commentary on Hippocrates
, and a treatise on stones and different kinds of wood
(περὶ μαρμάρων καὶ παντοίων ξύλων
The treatise on stones and different kinds of wood
treatise has been edited by A. Mai as an appendix to the fragments of the Iliad
. (Milan, 1819, fol.)
See Gräfenhan, Gesch. der Klass. Philol. im Alterthum,
i. p. 405, &c.