Chari'sius, Fla'vius Sosi'pater
a Latin grammarian.
author of a treatise in five books, drawn up for the use of his son, entitled Institutiones Grammaticae,
which has come down to us in a very imperfect state, a considerable portion of the first and fifth books being entirely wanting, as we at once discover by comparing the table of contents presented in the prooemium with what actually remains.
It is a careful compilation from preceding writers upon the same subject, such as Flavius Caper, Velius Longus, Terentius Scaurus, and above all Comminianus and Julius Romanus, from whom whole chapters are cited, and is particularly valuable on account of the number of quotations, apparently very accurate, from lost works. We can detect a close correspondence with many passages in the Ars Grammatica of Diomedes, but Charisius is so scrupulous in referring to his authorities, that we are led to conclude, since he makes no mention of Diomedes, that the latter was the borrower. Comminianus is known to have flourished after Donatus and before Servius [COMMINIANUS], therefore Charisius, being mentioned by Priscian, must belong to some period between the middle of the fourth and the end of the fifth centuries. Osann, who has investigated this question with great care, decides that he ought to be placed about the year A. D. 400, in which case he probably enjoyed the advantage of consulting the great libraries of the metropolis, before they were pillaged by the Goths. We gather from his own words that he was a native of Campania, in religion a Christian, by profession a grammarian, following his occupation at Rome.
The Editio Princeps of Charisius was published by J. Pierius Cyminius, a pupil of Janus Parrhasius, who first discovered the work, at Naples, fol. 1532
; the second, superintended by G. Fabricius Chemnicensis, was printed by Frobenius at Basle, 8vo., 1551, and contains many corrections and improvements, but likewise many interpolations, since the editor was not assisted by any MS.
; the third, included in the " Grammaticae Latinae Auctores Antiqui," of Putschius, Hanov. 4to. 1605,
professes to be far more complete and accurate than the preceding, in consequence of the additional matter and various readings obtained from an excellent codex, the property of Janus Douza, of which, however, no detailed account is given, and of which no trace now remains. Niebuhr had paved the way for a new edition by collating and making extracts from the Neapolitan MS. originally employed by Cyminius, which affords means for greatly purifying and enlarging the text.
These materials were promised by Niebuhr to Lindemann, who, however, in consequence of the death of his friend and the destruction of a portion of his papers by fire, succeeded in obtaining only a copy of Putschius with the various readings of the Neapolitan MS. marked on the margin. These are given in the edition of Charisius, which forms the first part of the fourth volume of the " Corpus Grammaticorum Latinorum Veterum," Lips. 4to. 1840.
Funceius, De inerti ac decrepita Linguae Latinae Senectute,
c. 4.11; Osann, Beiträge zur Griech. und Röm. Litteraturgesch.
vol. ii. p. 319 ; Lersch, Die Sprachphilosophie der Alten,
vol. i. p. 163.