1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Aristarchus (of Samothrace)
ARISTARCHUS, of Samothrace (c. 220–143 B.C.), Greek grammarian and critic, flourished about 155. He settled early in Alexandria, where he studied under Aristophanes of Byzantium, whom he succeeded as librarian of the museum. On the accession of the tyrant Ptolemy Physcon (his former pupil), he found his life in danger and withdrew to Cyprus, where he died from dropsy, hastened, it is said, by voluntary starvation, at the age of 72. Aristarchus founded a school of philologists, called after him “Aristarcheans,” which long flourished in Alexandria and afterwards at Rome. He is said to have written 800 commentaries alone, without reckoning special treatises. He edited Hesiod, Pindar, Aeschylus, Sophocles and other authors; but his chief fame rests on his critical and exegetical edition of Homer, practically the foundation of our present recension. In the time of Augustus, two Aristarcheans, Didymus and Aristonicus, undertook the revision of his work, and the extracts from these two writers in the Venetian scholia to the Iliad give an idea of Aristarchus’s Homeric labours. To obtain a thoroughly correct text, he marked with an obelus the lines he considered spurious; other signs were used by him to indicate notes, varieties of reading, repetitions and interpolations. He arranged the Iliad and the Odyssey in twenty-four books as we now have them. As a commentator his principle was that the author should explain himself, without recourse to allegorical interpretation; in grammar, he laid chief stress on analogy and uniformity of usage and construction. His views were opposed by Crates of Mallus, who wrote a treatise Περί Ανωμαλίας, especially directed against them.