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17. A Greek GRAMMARIAN of Athens, was a son of Asclepiades, and a pupil of the grammarian Aristarchus, of Panaetius, and Diogenes the Babylonian. He flourished about the year B. C. 140, a few years after the fall of Corinth. Further particulars are not mentioned about him. We know that one of his historical works (the χρονικά) came down to the year B. C. 143, and that it was dedicated to Attalus II., surnamed Philadelphus, who died in B. C. 138; but how long Apollodorus lived after the year B. C. 143 is unknown.


Apollodorus wrote a great number of works, and on a variety of subjects, which were much used in antiquity, but all of them have perished with the exception of one, and even this one has not come down to us complete.


This work bears the title Βιβλιοθήκη; it consists of three books, and is by far the best among the extant works of the kind. It contains a well-arranged account of the numerous mythuses of the mythology and the heroic age of Greece. The materials are derived from the poets, especially the eyelic poets, the logograph(ers, and the historians. It begins with the origin of the gods, and goes down to the time of Theseus, when the work suddenly breaks off. The part which is wanting at the end contained the stories of the families of Pelops and Atreus, and probably the whole of the Trojan cycle also. The first portion of the work (1.1-7) contains the ancient theogonie and cosmogonie mythuses, which are followed by the Hellenic mythuses, and the latter are arranged according to the different tribes of the Greek nation. (Phot. Bibl. 186.) The ancients valued this work very highly, as it formed a running mythological conmmentary to the Greek poets; to us it is of still greater value, as most of the works from which Apollodorus derived his information, as well as several other works which were akin to that of Apollodorus, are now lost. Apollodorus relates his mythical stories in a plain and unadorned style, and gives only that which he found in his sources, without interpolating or perverting the genuine forms of the legends by attempts to explain their meaning. This extreme simplicity of the Bibliotheca, more like a mere catalogue of events, than a history, has led some modern critics to consider the work in its present form either as an abridgement of some greater work of Apollodorus, or as made up out of several of his works. But this opinion is a mere hypothesis without any evidence.


The first edition of the Bibliotheca of Apollodorus, in which the text is in a very bad condition, was edited by Benedictus Aegius of Spoleto, at Rome, 1555, 8vo. A somewhat better edition is that of Heidelberg, 1599, 8vo. (Ap. Commelin.) After the editions of Tan. Faber (Salmur. 1661, 8vo.), and Th. Gale in his Script. Hist. poet. (Paris, 1675, 8vo.), there followed the critical edition of Ch. G. Heyne, Göttingen, 1782 and 83, 4 vols. 12mo., of which a second and improved edition appeared in 1803, 2 vols. 8vo.

The best among the subsequent editions is that of Clavier, Paris, 1805, 2 vols. 8vo., with a commentary and a French translation. The Bibliotheca is also printed in C. and Th. Müller, Fragment. Hist. Graec., Paris, 1841, and in A. Westermann's Mythographi, sive Scriptores Poeticae Histor. Graevi, 1843, 8vo.


Among the other works ascribed to Apollodorus which are lost, but of which a considerable number of fragments are still extant, which are contained in Heyne's edition of the Bibliotheca and in C. and Th. Müller's Fragm. Hist. Graec., the following must be noticed here:

1. Περὶ τῶν Ἀθήνησιν ἑταίρων, i. e. on the Athenian Courtezans. (Athen. xiii. pp. 567, 583, xiv. pp. 586, 591 Heyne, vol. iii. p. 1163, &c.; Müller, p. 467, &c.)

2. Ἀντιγραφὴ πρὸς τὴν Ἀριστοκλέους ὲπιστμήν. (Athen. 14.636; Heyne, p. 1172, &c.)

3. Γῆς περίοδος, κωμικῷ μέτρῳ, that is, a Universal Geography in iambie verses, such as was afterwards written by Scymnus of Chios and by Dionysins. (Strabo xiv. p.656; Steph. Byz. passim; Heyne, p. 1126, &c.; Müller, p. 449, &c.)

4. Περὶ Ἐτιχάρμου, either a commentary or a dissertation on the plays of the comic poet Epicharmus, which consisted of ten books. (Pophyr. Vit. Plotin,. 4; Heyne, p. 1142, &c.; Müller, p. 462.)

5. Ἐτυμολογίαι, or Etymologies, a work which is frequently referred to, though not always under this title, but sometimes apparently under that of the head of a particular article. (Heyne, p. 1144 &c.; Müller, p. 462, &c.)

6. Περὶ Θεῶν, in twenty-four books. This work contained the mythology of the Greeks, as far as the gods themseives were concerned; the Bibliotheca, giving an account of the heroic ages, formed a kind of continuation to it. (Heyne, p. 1039, &c.; Müller, p. 428, &c.)

7. Περὶ νεῶν καταλόγου or περὶ νεῶν, was an historical and geographical explanation of the catalogue in the second book of the Iliad. It consisted of twelve books, and is frequently cited by Strabo and other ancient writers. (Heyne, p. 1099, &c.; Müller, p. 453, &c.)

8. Περπὶ Σώφρονος, that is, a commentary on the Mimes of Sophron, of which the third book is quoted by Athenaeus (vii. p. 281), and the fourth by the Schol. on Aristoph. ()Vesp. 483; Heyne, p. 1138; Müller, p. 461, &c.)

9. Χρονικὰ or χρονικὴ σύνταξις, was a chronicle in iambic verses, comprising the history of 1040 years, from the destruction of Troy (1184) down to his own time, B. C. 143. This work, which was again a sort of continuation of the Bibliotheca, thus completed the history from the origin of the gods and the world down to his own time. Of how many books it consisted is not quite certain. In Stephanus of Byzantium the fourth book is mentioned, but if Syncellus (Chronogr. p). 349, ed. Dindorf.) refers to this work, it must have consisted of at least eight books. The loss of this work is one of the severest that we have to lament in the historical literature of antiquity. (Heyne, p. 1072, &c.; Muller, p. 435, &c.)

Further Information

For further information respecting Apollodorus and his writings, see Fabricius, Bibl. Gr. iv. pp. 287-299 ; C. and Th. Müller, pp. xxxviii.--xlv.

1 This work is not now thought to be by Apollodorus and we label the author Pseudo-Apollodorus -- GRC 5/16/2008.

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