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Pollux, Ju'lius

Ἰούλιος Πολυδεύκης, (of Naucratis in Egypt, was a Greek sophist and grammarian. He received instruction in criticism from his father, and afterwards went to Athens, where he studied rhetoric under the sophist Adrian. He opened a private school at Athens, where he gave instruction in grammar and rhetoric, and was subsequently appointed by the emperor Commodus to the chair of rhetoric at Athens. He died during the reign of Commodus at the age of fifty-eight, leaving a young son behind him. We may therefore assign A. D. 183 as the year in which he flourished. (Suidas, s. v. Πολυδεύκης ; Philostr. Vit. Soph. 2.12.) Philostratus praises his critical skiil, but speaks unfavourably of his rhetorical powers, and implies that he gained his professor's chair from Commodus simply by his mellifluous voice. He seems to have been attacked by many of his contemporaries on account of the inferior character of his oratory, and especially by Lucian in his Ρ̓ητόρων διδάσκαλος, as was supposed by the ancients and has been maintained by many modern writers (see especially C. F. Ranke, Comment. de Polluce et Luciano, Quedlinburg, 1831). though Hemsterhuis, from the natural partiality of an editor for his author, stoutly denies this supposition, and believes that Lucian intended to satirize a certain Dioscorides. It has also been conjectutred that Lucian attacks Pollux in his Lexiphanes, and that he alludes to him with contempt in a passage of the De Saltatione (100.33, p. 287, ed. Reitz). Athenodorus, who taught at Athens at the same time as Pollux, was likewise one of his detractors. (Philostr. Vit. Soph. 2.14.) We know nothing more of the life of Pollux, except that he was the teacher of the sophist Antipater, who taught in the reign of Alexander Severus. (Philostr. Ibid. 2.24.)


Pollux was the author of sevaral werks of which Suidas has preserved the titles of the following. All these works have perished with the exception of the Onomasticon, which has come down to us.

1. Ὀνομαστικὸν ἐν βιβλίοις ί

Ὀνομαστικὸν ἐν βιβλίοις ί, an Onomasticon in ten books.

The Onomasticon is divided into ten books, each o which contains a short dedication to the Caesar Commodus, and the work was therefore published before A. D. 177, since Commodus became Augustus in that year. Each book forms a separate treatise by itself, containing the most important words relating to certain subjects, with short explanations of the meanings of the words, which are frequently illustrated by quotations from the ancient writers. The alphabetical arrangement is not adopted, but the words are given according to the subjects treated of in each book. The object of the work was to present youths with a kind of store-house, from which they could borrow all the words of which they had need, and could at the same time learn their usage in the best writers. The contents of each book will give the best idea of the nature of the work.

1. The first treats of the gods and their worship, of kings, of speed and slowness, of dyeing, of commerce and manuftactures, of fertility and the contrary, of time and the divisions of the year, of houses, of ships, of war, of horses, of agriculture, of the parts of the plough and the waggon, and of bees.

2. The second treats of man, his eye, the parts of his body and the like.

3. Of relations, of political life, of friends, of the love of country, of love, of the relation between masters and slaves, of money, of travelling, and numerous other subjects.

4. Of the various branches of knowledge and science.

5. Of hunting, animals, &c.

6. Of meals, the names of crimes, &c.

7. Of the different trades, &c.

8. Of the courts, the administration of justice, &c.

9. Of towns, buildings, coins, games, &c.

10. Of various vessels, &c.


In consequence of the loss of the great number of lexicographical works from which Pollux compiled his Onomasticon, this book has become one of the greatest value for acquiring a knowledge of Greek antiquity, and explains many subjects which are known to us from no other source. It has also preserved many fragments of lost writers, and the great number of authors quoted in the work may be seen by a glance at the long list given in Fabricius. (Bibl. Graec. vol. vi. p. 145, &c.)


The first three editions of the Onomasticon contain simply the Greek text, without a Latin translation and with numerous errors : they are by Aldus, Venice, 1502, fol., by B. Junta, Florence 1520, fol., by S. Grynaeus, Basel, 1536, 4 to.

The first Greek and Latin edition was by Wolfgang Seber, Frankfort, 1608, 4to., with the text corrected from manuscripts; the Latin translation given in this edition had been previously published by Walther at Basel, 1541, 8vo. The next edition is the very valuable one in Greek and Latin by J. H. Lederlin and Tib. Hemstershuis, Amsterdam, sterdam, 1706, fol.; it contains copious notes by Goth. Jungermann, Joach. Kühn, and the two editors. This was followed by the edition of W. Dindorf, Leipzig, 1824, 5 vols. 8vo., containing the works of the previous commentators. The last edition is by Imm. Bekker, Berlin, 1846, which gives only the Greek text.

2. Διαλέξεις ἤτοι λαλιαί

Διαλέξεις ἤτοι λαλιαί, Dissertations.

3. Μελέται

Μελέται, Declamations.

4. Εἰς Κόμοδον Καίσαρα ἐπιθαλάμιος

Εἰς Κόμοδον Καίσαρα ἐπιθαλάμιος, an oration on the marriage of the Caesar Commodus.

5. Ρωμαϊκὸς λόγος

Ρωμαϊκὸς λόγος, a panegyric on Rome.

6. Σαλπιγκτὴς ἀγὼν μουσικός

Σαλπιγκτὴς ἀγὼν μουσικός, a Trumpeter, peter, or a musical contest.

7. Κατὰ Σωκράτους

Κατὰ Σωκράτους, a speech against Socrates.

8. Κατὰ Σινωπέων

Κατὰ Σινωπέων, against the Sinopians.

9. Πανελλήνιος

Πανελλήνιος, a speech delivered before the assembled Greeks.

10. Ἀρκαδικός

Ἀρκαδικός, a speech addressed to the Arcadians or in praise of the Arcadians.

Further Information

Fabric. Bibl. Graec. vol. vi. p. 141; Vossius, De Hist. Graecis, p. 278, ed. Westermann; Hemsterhuis, Praefatio ad Pollucem ; C. F. Ranke, Commentatio de Polluce et Luciano, Quedlinburg, 1831; Gräfenhan, Geschichte der Klassichen Philologie, vol. iii. p. 166, &c., Bonn, 1846; Clinton, Fasti Romani, sub ann. 176, 183.

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