Is not used in the modern sense before Diogenianus (2). Many Hellenistic poets published books of epigrams: PMil. Vogl. VIII. 309 and PColon. 5. 204 are from collections by Posidippus (2) and Mnasalces, and a number of papyri of the 3rd–2nd cents. bce contain epigrams (P. Firmin Didot, SH 961, 974, 985, 986, 981, PColon. 3.128). The unpublished PVindob. G 40611 (3rd/2nd cent. bce) contains a check-list of at least 240 epigrams (first lines only), all unknown but one, selected from a collection or anthology in four books; for a preliminary account see P. J. Parsons, Entretiens Hardt XLVIII, Callimaque (2002) 118–20. Florilegia of all sorts were common from an early period (H. Chadwick, RAC ‘Florilegium’; J. Barns, CQ 1950–1), but the first artistically arranged anthology of epigrams still seems to be the Garland (Στέφανος) of Meleager (2), c.100 bce. We now have at least three papyri of the Garland (POxy. 662 and 3324, BKT 5. 1. 75–6), all apparently abridged redactions or extracts. But our fullest source of information for both contents and arrangement remains the so-called Palatine Anthology (Pal. gr. 23 + Par. suppl. gr. 384 = Anth. Pal.), which preserves (a) Meleager's own preface (Anth. Pal. 4), listing every poet included; and (b) in Anth. Pal. 5–7, 9, and 12 a series of more or less unbroken blocks of epigrams by poets named in the preface. Parallels of arrangement between the sequence of erotica in POxy. 3324 and BKT 5. 1. 75–6, and Anth. Pal. 5 and 12 give some idea of Meleager's erotic book.
Philippus (2) of Thessalonica compiled under Nero another Garland, arranged (as the blocks in Anth. Pal. reveal) by alphabetical order of the first word of each poem and thematic arrangement inside the letter groups. The literary quality of the second Garland is generally lower, less love and more rhetoric. So far we have no papyri, but POxy. 3724 contains an incipit list of (mainly) epigrams by Philodemus. Not much later, POxy. 3725 and 4501+4502 may provide contemporary evidence for a collection by Nicarchus (2); and under (probably) Hadrian Straton certainly produced a collection of his own pederastic epigrams. But it was 500 years before Agathias constructed another anthology, the Cycle, which included epigrams by his contemporaries, arranged like Meleager's Garland.
Around ce 900 a Byzantine schoolteacher called Constantine Cephalas put together a massive collection based on all these earlier collections, including those of Diogenianus, Palladas, and much other material from a variety of sources, in particular a large number of inscriptional epigrams collected from various parts of Greece and Asia Minor by his contemporary Gregory of Campsa. Around 940 a scholar known as J (probably Constantine the Rhodian) produced in Anth. Pal. an amplified redaction of Cephalas (some 3,700 epigrams in all), adding much Christian and ecphrastic poetry. To this MS and its scholia we owe almost our entire knowledge of Greek epigram from Meleager to Agathias.
The epigrammatic contents of Anth. Pal. are conventionally identified as follows. 1, Christian epigrams; 2, an ekphrasis of statues in a bath in Constantinople by Christodorus; 3, epigrams from a Cyzicene temple; 4, prefaces of Meleager, Philippus, and Agathias; 5, erotica; 6, anathematica; 7, epitaphs; 8, epitaphs by Gregory of Nazianzus; 9, epideictica; 10, protreptica; 11, convivial and satirical epigrams; 12, paederastica; 13, poems in various metres; 14, oracles, riddles, and problems; 15, a miscellaneous appendix, including figure poems (technopaignia) in the shape of an egg, axe, and wings. Blocks from Meleager, Philippus, and Agathias alternate with sections compiled and arranged by Cephalas himself.
Finally in 1301 Maximus Planudes produced in Marc. gr. 481 (his signed and dated autograph) a much reduced anthology based on an abridged Cephalas (not Anth. Pal. as sometimes held), but systematically rearranged in seven books with elaborate subdivisions. Book 6 is followed by extensive addenda taken from another source (also an abridged Cephalas, as the numerous duplications prove). Fortunately these two sources preserve 380 ecphrastic epigrams apparently omitted from the source of Anth. Pal. (misleadingly printed in modern editions as Anth. Pal. 16). Planudes deliberately omitted what he considered improper, and bowdlerized many erotica he included, using a knowledge of classical metre not possessed by Cephalas and J. But it is too simple to assume that all divergences between Anth. Pal. and Planudes are Planudean emendations. In particular, alternative author ascriptions have to be decided on an individual basis.
Many manuscript copies were made of Planudes' Anthology before it was finally printed by Janus Lascaris in 1494 (A. Turyn, Επετηρίς Εταιρείας Βυζαντινών Σπουδών 1972/3, 403–50; E. Mioni, Scritti…C. Diano (1975), 263–307). The sequence of epigrams in these MSS varies according to how Planudes' addenda were incorporated into his seven original books (Cameron, Greek Anthology, 345–62). Anth. Pal. was unknown during most of the Renaissance (lurking in London and Louvain), not brought to the attention of scholars till 1606 and not finally published till the 19th cent. Till then Anth. Plan. was the Greek Anthology, and exercised enormous influence throughout the Renaissance (J. Hutton, The Greek Anthology in Italy (1935) and The Greek Anthology in France and…the Netherlands (1946)).
The Greek Anthology is one of the great books of European literature, a garden containing the flowers and weeds of fifteen hundred years of Greek poetry, from the most humdrum doggerel to the purest poetry.
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