Aristarchus of Samothrace

Aristarchus of Samothrace, detail from: Apotheosis of Homer (1827) by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780–1867)

Grammarian noted as the most influential of all scholars of Homeric poetry.

- Aristarchus of Samothrace

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Person who works professionally in a library, providing access to information, and sometimes social or technical programming, or instruction on information literacy to users.

A librarian in a military base library helps an airman find an entry in a book.
Burgundian scribe Jean Miélot in his scriptorium (15th century)
Enlightenment era librarian in a library, 19th-century painting by Georg Reimer, National Museum in Warsaw
Librarians at work, National Library of Norway, 1946
A librarian's workspace at Newmarket Public Library in 2013. iPad, PC, eReader and laptop computer are required tools.
A patron in a library
Justin Winsor, Librarian of Congress, c. 1885
Southwest Collections / Special Collections Library at Texas Tech University, US
The Radcliffe Science Library, Oxford University
Courtney Young (2015), librarian and former president of the American Library Association
Ida Leeson (1933) Mitchell librarian
Presenters and recipients of the New York Times-Carnegie Corporation of New York I Love My Librarian awards, presented in association with the American Library Association

It was notable for its famous librarians: Demetrius, Zenodotus, Eratosthenes, Apollonius, Aristophanes, Aristarchus, and Callimachus.

Library of Alexandria

One of the largest and most significant libraries of the ancient world.

Nineteenth-century artistic rendering of the Library of Alexandria by the German artist O. Von Corven, based partially on the archaeological evidence available at that time
Bust excavated at the Villa of the Papyri depicting Ptolemy II Philadelphus, who is believed to have been the one to establish the Library as an actual institution, although plans for it may have been developed by his father Ptolemy I Soter
Map of ancient Alexandria. The Mouseion was located in the royal Broucheion quarter (listed on this map as "Bruchium") in the central part of the city near the Great Harbor ("Portus Magnus" on the map).
According to legend, the Syracusan inventor Archimedes invented the Archimedes' screw, a pump for transporting water, while studying at the Library of Alexandria.
Present-day ruins of the Serapeum of Alexandria, where the Library of Alexandria moved part of its collection after it ran out of storage space in the main building
The Roman general Julius Caesar was forced to set fire to his own ships during the Siege of Alexandria in 48 BC. Many ancient writers report that the fire spread and destroyed at least part of the Library of Alexandria's collections; however, the Library seems to have either at least partially survived or been quickly rebuilt.
This Latin inscription regarding Tiberius Claudius Balbilus of Rome (d. c. AD 79) mentions the "ALEXANDRINA BYBLIOTHECE" (line eight).
Drawing from the Alexandrian World Chronicle depicting Pope Theophilus of Alexandria, gospel in hand, standing triumphantly atop the Serapeum in 391 AD
Hypatia (1885) by Charles William Mitchell, believed to be a depiction of a scene in Charles Kingsley's 1853 novel Hypatia
Illustration by Yahyá al-Wasiti from 1237 depicting scholars at an Abbasid library in Baghdad
Interior of the modern Bibliotheca Alexandrina

Many important and influential scholars worked at the Library during the third and second centuries BC, including, among many others: Zenodotus of Ephesus, who worked towards standardizing the texts of the Homeric poems; Callimachus, who wrote the Pinakes, sometimes considered to be the world's first library catalogue; Apollonius of Rhodes, who composed the epic poem the Argonautica; Eratosthenes of Cyrene, who calculated the circumference of the earth within a few hundred kilometers of accuracy; Aristophanes of Byzantium, who invented the system of Greek diacritics and was the first to divide poetic texts into lines; and Aristarchus of Samothrace, who produced the definitive texts of the Homeric poems as well as extensive commentaries on them.


Scholia (singular scholium or scholion, from, "comment, interpretation") are grammatical, critical, or explanatory comments – original or copied from prior commentaries – which are inserted in the margin of the manuscript of ancient authors, as glosses.

Ernst Maass, Scholia Graeca in Homeri Iliadem Townleyana (1887), a collection of scholia of Homer's Iliad.

The most important are those on the Homeric Iliad, especially those found in the 10th-century manuscripts discovered by Villoison in 1781 in the Biblioteca Marciana in Venice (see further Venetus A, Homeric scholarship), which are based on Aristarchus and his school.


Ancient Greek poet generally thought to have been active between 750 and 650 BC, around the same time as Homer.

Hesiod and the Muse (1891), by Gustave Moreau. The poet is presented with a lyre, in contradiction to the account given by Hesiod himself in which the gift was a laurel staff.
The Dance of the Muses at Mount Helicon by Bertel Thorvaldsen (1807). Hesiod cites inspiration from the Muses while on Mount Helicon.
Modern Mount Helicon. Hesiod once described his nearby hometown, Ascra, as "cruel in winter, hard in summer, never pleasant."
Vignette for Hesiodi Ascraei quaecumque exstant (1701)
Opening lines of Works and Days in a 16th-century manuscript
Ancient bronze bust, the so-called Pseudo-Seneca, now conjectured to be an imaginative portrait of Hesiod.
Monnus mosaic from the end of the 3rd century AD. The figure is identified by the name ESIO-DVS (Hesiod).
Title to an edition of Hesiod's Carmina (1823)

The first known writers to locate Homer earlier than Hesiod were Xenophanes and Heraclides Ponticus, though Aristarchus of Samothrace was the first actually to argue the case.

Aristophanes of Byzantium

Hellenistic Greek scholar, critic and grammarian, particularly renowned for his work in Homeric scholarship, but also for work on other classical authors such as Pindar and Hesiod.

The Nike of Samothrace is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of Hellenistic art.

He died in Alexandria around 185–180 BC. His students included Callistratus, Aristarchus of Samothrace, and perhaps Agallis.


Legendary author to whom the authorship of the Iliad and the Odyssey (the two epic poems that are the foundational works of ancient Greek literature) is attributed.

Marble terminal bust of Homer. Roman copy of a lost Hellenistic original of the 2nd c. BC.
Homer and His Guide (1874) by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
Part of an eleventh-century manuscript, "the Townley Homer". The writings on the top and right side are scholia.
Homer as depicted in the 1493 Nuremberg Chronicle
Greece according to the Iliad
Detail of The Parnassus (painted 1509–1510) by Raphael, depicting Homer wearing a crown of laurels atop Mount Parnassus, with Dante Alighieri on his right and Virgil on his left
A Reading from Homer (1885) by Lawrence Alma-Tadema

After the establishment of the Library of Alexandria, Homeric scholars such as Zenodotus of Ephesus, Aristophanes of Byzantium and in particular Aristarchus of Samothrace helped establish a canonical text.


One of two major ancient Greek epic poems attributed to Homer.

15th-century manuscript of Book I written by scribe John Rhosos (British Museum)
A mosaic depicting Odysseus, from the villa of La Olmeda, Pedrosa de la Vega, Spain, late 4th–5th centuries AD
Charles Gleyre, Odysseus and Nausicaä
Odysseus Overcome by Demodocus' Song, by Francesco Hayez, 1813–15
Odysseus and the Sirens, eponymous vase of the Siren Painter, c. 480–470 BCE (British Museum)
Athena Revealing Ithaca to Ulysses by Giuseppe Bottani (18th century)
Odysseus discovers Penelope has devised tricks to delay the suitors whilst he has been away: Penelope and the Suitors by John William Waterhouse
Ulysses and Telemachus kill Penelope's Suitors by Thomas Degeorge (1812)
Terracotta plaque of the Mesopotamian ogre Humbaba, believed to be a possible inspiration for the figure of Polyphemus
Odissea (1794)
Penelope questions Odysseus to prove his identity.
Odysseus and Eurycleia by Christian Gottlob Heyne
Portrait by the Italian painter Domenico Ghirlandaio of the Greek Renaissance scholar Demetrios Chalkokondyles, who produced the first printed edition of the Odyssey in 1488
Front cover of James Joyce's Ulysses

In the 3rd and 2nd centuries BCE, scholars affiliated with the Library of Alexandria—particularly Zenodotus and Aristarchus of Samothrace—edited the Homeric poems, wrote commentaries on them, and helped establish the canonical texts.

Ptolemy VIII Physcon

King of the Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt.

Coin of Ptolemy VIII
Coin of Ptolemy V Epiphanes, the father of Ptolemy VIII.
Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Ring of Ptolemy VI Philometor as Egyptian pharaoh (Louvre)
Cornelia pushes away Ptolemy's crown, by Laurent de La Hyre
Ptolemy VIII being crowned as Pharaoh by Nekhbet and Wadjet, personifications of Upper and Lower Egypt, in the Temple of Horus at Edfu.
Ptolemy VIII as Egyptian Pharaoh
Coin of Demetrius II Nicator
Coin of Alexander II Zabinas
Wall relief of Cleopatra III, Cleopatra II and Ptolemy VIII before Horus
Stele attributed to Ptolemy VIII, glorifying his rule and describing his support of Egyptian gods. The stele was written in Egyptian hieroglyphs as well as Greek.

Despite this interest, Ptolemy VIII's reign saw a serious decline in the importance of Alexandria as an intellectual centre, in part due to the massacres that he carried out on taking control of the city in 145 BC and again in 126 BC. Among his victims on the first occasion were a number of prominent intellectuals, including Aristarchus of Samothrace and Apollodorus of Athens.

Aristarchian symbols

Aristarchian symbols are editorial marks developed during the Hellenistic period and the early Roman empire for annotating then-ancient Greek texts—mainly the works of Homer.

Three different forms of paragraphos mark.

The number of the philological signs and in some cases their meanings were modified by Aristarchos of Samothrake (220–143 BCE), sixth head of the Alexandrinian Library.

Dagger (mark)

Typographical mark that usually indicates a footnote if an asterisk has already been used.

Three variants of obelus glyphs
Dagger and double-dagger symbols in a variety of fonts, showing the differences between stylized and non-stylized characters. Fonts from left to right: DejaVu Sans, Times New Roman, LTC Remington Typewriter, Garamond, and Old English Text MT

The system was further refined by his student Aristophanes of Byzantium, who first introduced the asterisk and used a symbol resembling a for an obelus; and finally by Aristophanes' student, in turn, Aristarchus, from whom they earned the name of "Aristarchian symbols".