1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Scholium

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SCHOLIUM[1] (σχόλιον), the name given to grammatical, critical and explanatory notes, extracted from existing commentaries and inserted on the margin of the MS. of an ancient author. These notes were altered by successive copyists and owners of the MS. and in some cases increased to such an extent that there was no longer room for them in the margin, and it became necessary to make them into a separate work. At first they were taken from one commentary only, subsequently from several. This is indicated by the repetition of the lemma (“catchword”), or by the use of such phrases as “or thus,” “or otherwise,” “according to some,” to introduce different explanations. The name of “the first scholiast” has been given to Didymus of Alexandria (q.v.), and the practice of compiling scholia continued till the 15th or 16th century A.D. The word σχόλιον itself is first met with in Cicero (Ad Att. xvi. 7). The Greek scholia we possess are for the most part anonymous, the commentaries of Eustathius on Homer and Tzetzes on Lycophron being prominent exceptions. Although frequently trifling, they contain much information not found elsewhere, and are of considerable value for the correction and interpretation of the text. The most important are those on Homer (especially the Venetian scholia on the Iliad, discovered by Villoison in 1781 in the library of St Mark), Hesiod, Pindar, Sophocles, Aristophanes and Apollonius Rhodius; and, in Latin, those of Servius on Virgil, of Acro and Porphyrio on Horace, and of Donatus on Terence.

See E. F. Gräfenhan, Geschichte der classischen Philologie, iii. (1843–1850); W. H. Suringar, Historia critica scholiastarum Latinorum (1835).

  1. To be distinguished from scolium (σκόλιον), an after-dinner song.