2. A grammarian. who, according to the greater number of authorities, was a native of Amphipolis.
By others (Schol. ad Iliad.
5.4; Eustath. p. 387) he is called an Ephesian.
The age in which he lived has been the subject of some discussion, as the authorities are irreconcileably at variance.
The great majority of them (Suid. s.v. Aelian. V. II.
11.10; Dionys. de Isaco,
p. 627, de Vi Demosth.
p. 974; Suid. s. v. Δημοσθένης
) make him contemporary with the disciples of Isocrates. On the other hand, there is a passage in Vitruvius, which assigns him to the age of Ptolemaeus Philadelphus (Praefat. ad lib. VII.
He is said by Vitruvius to have come to Alexandria in the hope of securing the patronage of the king, who, however, was indignant at the manner in which he treated the poems of Homer, and paid no regard to him. Various accounts were given of his having met with a violent death (l.c.
But though it is within the limits of possibility that Zoilus lived to see the accession of Ptolemaeus Philadelphus, this, as Clinton says (Fasti Hellen.
iii. p. 381), does not satisfy the details of the account of Vitruvius, which, when closely examined, proves to be inconsistent with itself.
The safest course, therefore, is to reject it altogether. " Zoilus began to be eminent before the rise of Demosthenes. and continued to write after the death of Philip." (Clinton, l.c.
According to Heracleides Ponticus (Alleg. Hom.
p. 427), he was originally a Thracian slave. Aelian speaks of him as having been a pupil of Polycrates, who wrote an accusation of Socrates.
Zoilus was celebrated for the asperity with which he assailed Homer, from which he derived the epithet of Ὁμηρομάστιξ
. (Suid. s.v. Schol. ad Il.
5.7, 20, 1.129, 10.274, 18.22, 22.209, 23.100; Eustath. ad Od.
p. 1614; Schol. in Plat. Hipparch.
He found fault with him princicpally for introducing fabulous and incredible stories in his poems. From the list that we have of his writings, it also appears that he attacked Plato and Isocrates. His name became proverbial for a captious and malignant critic. (Ingenium magni lixor detrectat Homeri. Quisquis es, ex illo, Zoile, nomen habes,
Ovid. Rem. Am. 366.
) He was also styled Κύων ῥητορικός
(Ael. VH 11.10
It is worthy of note, however, that Dionysius of Halicarnassus (Ep. ad Pomp.
100.1) speaks of him with considerable respect, and does not hesitate to class him among critics of the highest rank.
The following works of Zoilus are mentioned : --- 1. Περὶ Ἀμφιπόλεως βιβλία τρία
). 2. Ἰστορία ἀπὸ Θεογονίας ἕως τῆς Φιλίππου τελευτῆς
). 3. Κατὰ Ἰσοκράτους τοῦ ῥήτορος
). 4. Κατὰ τῆς Ὁμήρου ποιήρεως λόγοι ἐννέα
. 5. Ψόγος Ὁμήρου
. Unless this is only another name for the preceding (ibid.
Ael. l.c. ;
Dionys. l.c. ;
v. p. 677; Schol. ad Hom. Il. ll. cc.
) 6. Κατὰ Πλάτωνος
(Aelian. l.c. :
Dionys. ad Pomp.
p. 752). 7. Τενεδίων ἐγκώμιον
(Strab. vi. p.271
A work on the figures of speech, from which Quintilian quotes, with disapprobation, a definition of σχῆμα
(Quint. 9.1.14, comp. Phoebammon de Fig.
p. 588, ed. Ald.). None of these have come down to us.
The story told by Suidas of his having been thrown headlong down the Scironian rocks, is probably as fabulous as the other accounts of a similar kind given by Vitruvitus. (Fabric. Bibl. Gr.
vol. i. p. 559, &c. ; Voss. de Hist. Gr.
p. 130, &c.)