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Philon Byblius

7. HERENNIUS BYBLIUS. Suidas (s. v. Φίλων) styles this Philon only Herennius. According to him he was a grammarian, and, if the text be correct, filled the office of consul. But, if Suidas actually made this statement, it must, as is remarked by Kuster (ad locum), have been through oversight. He was born about the time of Nero, and lived to a good old age, having written of the reign of Hadrian. This is all that we know of his life, except on his own authority, as given by Suidas, that he was in his 78th year in the consulship of Herennius Severus, from whose patronage he doubtless received his surname. This consulship, Suidas states, occurred in the 220th Olympiad, the last year of which was A. D. 104. Now, granting that this is the year meant, it has been deemed highly mprobabie that he should have lived to chronicle the reign of Hadrian, who succeeded A. D. 117, when, according to this computation, Philon must have been 91 years old, especially as Hadrian reigned 21 years. The consulship of Herennius Severus unfortunately cannot aid us, for there is no consul of that name about this period ; there is a Catili is Severus, A. D. 120, and Haeniins Severus, A. D. 141, and Herennius must have been a consul suffectus. Sealiger, Tillemont, and Clinton, have proposed various emenldations on the text of Suidas, Clinton conjecturally assigning his birth to A. D. 47, and consequently his 78th year to A. D. 124. (Fasti Rom. pp. 31, 111). After all, the text of Suidas may be correct enough. He expressly says that the life of Philon was very long protracted, παρέτεινεν εἰς μακρόν ; and regarding Hadrian all he says is, he wrote περὶ τῆς βασιλείας, not that he wrote a history of his reign.

Philon Byblius vs. Philon Herennius

Eusebius also mentions a Philon, whom he styles Byblius. This Philon Byblius had, according to the account of Eusebius, translated the work of a certain ancient Phoenician named Sanchoniathon (Σαγχουνιάθων), which was the result of multifarious inquiries into the Phoenician mythology. Eusebius gives the preface of Philon Byblius, and copious extracts, but not seemingly at first hand. He states that he had found them in the writings of Porphyry. (Praep. Evany. ii. p. 31, &c.). Byblius is evidently a patronymic from Byblus, a Phoenician town. Now Suidas (s. v. Ἕρμιππος), states that Hermippus of Berytus, also a Phoenician town, was his disciple. Hence, it has long been held--as there is nothing in date to contradict it--that the Philon Herennius of Suidas, and the Philon Byblius of Porphyry, are one and the same. (See Dodwell's Discourse concerning Sanchoniathon, printed at the end of Two Letters of Advice, 1691.) This opinion will deserve examination in the inquiry into the writings of Sanchoniathon.


Philon was a voluminous writer. Suidas mentions:

1. His work on Hadrian's reign

Mentioned above.

2. a work in thirty books on cities and their illustrious men

This was abridged by Aelius Serenus in three books (s. v. Σεπῆνος), which is confirmed in the Etymologicon Magnum (s. vv. Ἀρσινοή, Βουκέρας);

3. a work, Περὶ κτήσεως καὶ ἐκλογῆς βλβλίων

in 12 books. Of this, the treatise Περὶ χρηστομαθείας is probably a part (Etym. Mug. s.v. Γέρανος). He states that he wrote other works, but does not enumerate them. Eudocia (p. 424) assigns to him,

4. four books of Epigrams

From these we have perhaps a distich in the Anthologia Graeca. (Jacobs, vol. iii. p. 110.) There are besides attributed to him,

5. a Commentary on the
of Aristotle.

(Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. iii. p. 258.)

6. A rhetorical work, Ῥητορικὸν

perhaps a dictionary of rhetoric (Etymol. Mag. s.v. Δέμα.) In the Etymologicon Magnum, we have noticed his Ῥηματικά (s. v. Ἀέντες, &c.), and Ῥωμαίων διαλέξεως (s. v. ἁλτὴρ); but these seem all divisions of the same rhetorical work.

7. Περὶ διαφόρων σημαινομένων

This is said to be extant in one of the public libraries of Paris. Eustathius quotes extensively from this or the rhetorical work. (Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. v. p. 718.) Manegius (ad Laertii Anaximenem, p. 71) attributes to him the similar treatise generally ascribed to Ammonius ; and Valckenaer appends to his edition of Ammoniius 1739, a treatise by Eranius Philon, De Differenlia Significationis, which will be found along with the treatise of Ammonius at the end of Scapula's Lexicon. (See Valckenacr's Preface to Ammonius.) This he thinks to be the work of a later writer, who has appropriated, and that incorrectly, Philon's name.

8. Περὶ ἰατρικῶν

on the authority of Stephanus Byzantinus (s. v. Κύρτος). This Fabricius thinks to have contained a history of eminent physicians, and he deeply regrets its loss (vol. xiii. p. 367, ed. vet.).

9. Ἱστορία παράδοξον, in three books.

(Euseb. P. E. p. 32.)

10. A work on the Jews.

(Euseb. P.E. p. 40.)

11. Ἐφωδιῶν ὑπομνήματα.

(Euseb. P. E. p. 41.) Vossius (De Hist. Graec. p. 292, ed. Westermann) inadvertently attributes the last three to Porphyry, and has been partially followed by Fourmont (Reflexions sur L'Histoire des Anciens Peuples, vol. i. p. 21).

The last three three must be assigned, on the authority of Eusebius, to Herennius Philon, if he is the same as Philon Byblius, who alone is mentioned by Eusebius, just as the former name alone, or standing without Herennius, is found elsewhere. (See Salmasius, Plin. Exercit. p. 866.)


Lastly it may be mentioned that Vossius (ibid. p. 254) attributes to him the Αἰθιπικά, which with more probability he elsewhere assigns (p. 486) to Philon the geographer.


But the work which has made his name most celebrated in modern times, and of which alone we have any fragments of consequence, is the translation of the Phoenician work already referred to. For the controversy regarding the genuineness and authenticity of this work, see SANCHONIATHON.

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