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Dionysius Thrax (Διονύσιος ὁ Θρᾷξ) (170 BC‑90 BC) was a Hellenistic grammarian and a pupil of Aristarchus of Samothrace. His place of origin was not Thrace as the epithet Thrax denotes, but probably Alexandria. He lived and worked in this city but later taught at Rhodes (around 144BC).

The first extant grammar of Greek, "Art of Grammar" (Tékhnē grammatiké, Greek: τέχνη γραμματική) is attributed to him but many scholars today doubt that the work really belongs solely to him due to the difference between the technical approach of most of the work and the more literary approach (similar to the second century's Alexandrian tradition) of the first few sections. It concerns itself primarily with a morphological description of Greek, lacking any treatment of syntax. The work was translated into Armenian and Syriac in the early Christian era.

Thrax defines grammar at the beginning of the Tékhnē as "the practical knowledge of the general usages of poets and prose writers." Thus Thrax, like contemporary Alexandrian scholars who edited Attic Greek and Homeric texts, was concerned with facilitating the teaching of classic Greek literature to an audience who spoke Koine Greek[1].


  • Dionysius Thrax, Art of Grammar
  • Robins, R. H. A Short History of Linguistics (Indiana UP, 1967). (ISBN 0-253-35210-X)
  • Robins, R. H. The Technē Grammatikē of Dionysius Thrax in historical perspective. In P. Swiggers, W. van Hoecke (Eds.), Mots et parties du discours. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1987.
  • V. Di Benedetto, "At the Origins of Greek Grammar," Glotta 68 (1990): 19-39.
  • Vivien Law, Ineke Sluiter (eds.), Dionysius Thrax and the Techne grammatike Münster: Nodus Publikationen, 1995.
  • J. Lallot, La grammaire de Denys le Thrace, Paris: CNRS Éditions, 1998 (2e édition 2003).
  1. ^ There are extensive scholia to the Techne, which have been edited by A. Hilgard in 1901: Scholia in Dionysii Thracis Artem Grammaticam, recensuit et apparatum criticum indicesque adiecit Alfredus Hilgard, Lipsiae: in aedibus B.G. Teubneri 1901. The collections of scholia are the following: Prolegomena Vossiana (p.1); Commentarius Melampodis seu Diomedis (p. 10); Commentarius Heliodori (p. 67); Scholiorum collectio Vaticana (p. 106); Scholiorum collectio Marciana (p. 292); Scholiorum collectio Londinensis (p. 442); Commentariolus Byzantinus (pp. 565-586).

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

DIONYSIUS THRAX (so called because his father was a Thracian), the author of the first Greek grammar, flourished about 100 He was a native of Alexandria, where he attended the lectures of Aristarchus, and afterwards taught rhetoric in Rhodes and Rome. His TEXvrt rypaµµanKii, which we possess (though probably not in its original form), begins with the definition of grammar and its functions. Dealing next with accent, punctuation marks, sounds and syllables, it goes on to the different parts of speech (eight in number) and their inflections. No rules of syntax are given, and nothing is said about style. The authorship of Dionysius was doubted by many of the early middleage commentators and grammarians, and in modern times its origin has been attributed to the oecumenical college founded by Constantine the Great, which continued in existence till 730. But there seems no reason for doubt; the great grammarians of imperial times (Apollonius Dyscolus and Herodian) were acquainted with the work in its present form, although, as was natural considering its popularity, additions and alterations may have been made later. The was first edited by J. A. Fabricius from a Hamburg MS. and published in his Bibliotheca Graeca, vi. (ed. Harles). An Armenian translation, belonging to the 4th or 5th century, containing five additional chapters, was published with the Greek text and a French version, by M. Cirbied (1830). Dionysius also contributed much to the criticism and elucidation of Homer, and was the author of various other works - amongst them an account of Rhodes, and a collection of MEMTat (literary studies), to which the considerable fragment in the Stromata (v. 8) of Clement of Alexandria probably belongs.

Editions, with scholia, by I. Bekker in Anecdota Graeca, ii. and G. Uhlig (1884), reviewed exhaustively by P. Egenolff in Bursian's Jahresbericht, vol. xlvi. (1888); Scholia, ed. A. Hilgard (1901); see also W. Horschelmann, De Dionysii Thracis interpretibus veteribus (1874); J. E. Sandys, Hist. of Classical Scholarship, i. (1906).

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