Parthe'nius（*parqe/nios), literary. 1. Of NICAEA, or according to others, of MYRLEA, but more probably of the former, since both Suidas (s. v. Νέστωρ) and Stephanus Byzantinus (s. v. Νίκαια) make him a native of that town, and the ancient grammarians generally speak of him as the Nicaean. He was the son of Heracleides and Eudoranor, as Hermippus stated, of Tetha; and Suidas further relates that he was taken prisoner by Cinna, in the Mithridatic war, was afterwards manumitted on account of his learning, and lived to the reign of Tiberius. The accuracy of this statement has been called in question, since there were seventy-seven years from the death of Mithridates to the accession of Tiberius; but if Parthenius was taken prisoner in his childhood, he might have been about eighty at the death of Augustus.
WorksParthenius' literary activity must at all events be placed in the reign of Augustus. He dedicated his extant work to Cornelius Gallus, which must, therefore, have been written before B. C. 26, when Gallus died. We know, moreover, that Parthenius taught Virgil Greek (Macrob. 5.17), and a line in the Georgics (1.437) is expressly stated both by Macrobius (l.c.) and A. Gellius (13.26), to have been borrowed from Parthenius. He seems to have been very popular among the distinguished Romanas of his time; we are told that the emperor Tiberius also imitated his poems, and placed his works and statues in the public libraries, along with the most celebrated ancient writers (Suet. Tib. 70). Suidas calls Parthenius an elegiac poet, and the author of verses in various kinds of measures (ἐλεγειοποιὸς καὶ μέτρων διαφόρων ποιητής); and although his only extant work is in prose, it was as a poet that he was best known in antiquity. The following are the titles of his principal works:--
ἐλεγείαι, Ἀφροδίτη, as two separate works, and this conjecture is supported by the way in which these works are quoted by the ancient writers(comp. Steph. Byz. s.v. Ἀκαμάντιον ; Artemid. 4.63). 2. Ἀρήτης ἐπικήδειον, a dirge on his wife Arete (Suid.). 3. Ρ̓ήτης ἐγκώμιον, in three books (Suid.). Either to this work or the former may be referred the quotation in the Scholiast on Pindar (ἐν τῇ Ἀρήτῃ, Isthm. 2.63).
4. Ἀνθίππη(Steph. Byz. s. vv.. Κρανιδες, Λάμπεια).
7. Βίας(Schol. ad Il. ix. 446).
8. Δῆλος(Steph. s. v. Βεληδόνιοι, Γρύνοι）
9. Ἡρακλῆς(Steph. s. vv. Ἴσσα, Οἰνώνη; Etymol. s. v. αὐρόσχας).
10. Ἴφικολς(Steph. s. v. Ἀράφεια).
11. Κριναγόρας(Etym. s. v. ἅρπυς).
12. Λευκαδίαι(Steph. s. v. Ἰβηρίαι）
13. Προπεμπτικόν(Steph. s. v. Κώρυκος).
14.It is stated in the Ambrosian manuscript of Virgil that Parthenius wrote a work in Greek under this title, which was imitated by Virgil.
15. ΜεταμορφώσειςWhether Parthenius was the author of this work or not is doubtful. Suidas (s. v. Νέστωρ), in one passage, ascribes it to Parthenius of Nicaea; but in another (s. v. Παρθένιος), he attributes it to Parthenius of Chios [No. 2]. Since, however, the words in the latter passage are wanting in the old editions and in most manuscripts of Suidas, it is probable that they were not written by him, but were made up by some one from the passage on Nestor, and then inserted under Parthenius in their wrong place. This work is likewise referred to by Eustathius (ad Dionys. 420); and it must be admitted, as Clinton has remarked, that the expression of Eustathius stems to imply that another Parthenius was intended. It is not improbable that Ovid may have borrowed from this work in his Metamorphoses.
Περὶ ἐρωτικῶν παθημάτων is the only one of the writings of Parthenius that has come down to us. It is written in prose, and contains thirty-six brief love-stories, which ended in an unfortunate manner. It is dedicated, as has been already remarked, to Cornelius Gallus, and was compiled for his use, that he might avail himself of the materials in the composition of epic and elegiac poems. The work is of some interest to us, as Parthenius gives in most cases the names of the writers from whom he derived his narratives, and thus extends our acquaintance with some Greek writers of whom we have very few fragments extant. Of this work we have only one manuscript, written in the tenth century, and preserved at present at Heidelberg.