Johann Joachim Eschenburg.

Manual of classical literature : from the German of J.J. Eschenburg, with additions online

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For further notice of the four natiooal gsmes and of the Amphictyouic Council, see P. III. § 84 — 87, and § 105.



11. — Of the Greek Alphabet, Method of Writing, and Books.

§ 45. Alphabetic writing, according to the general opinion, W'as introduced
by Cadmus, a Phoenician leader who settled in Boeotia, and founded Thebes,
B. C. 1493. There may be grounds for the conjecture, that the Greeks possessed
before this some written characters, or at least a sort of picture-writing. Per-
haps, however, these more ancient characters, called Pelasgic, were originally
Phoenician, since the Pelasgi (cf. § 33, 34) were probably of Phoenician origin.
There is an obvious resemblance between the letters of the Phoenician and those
of the Grecian alphabet. Indeed the PhtEnicians may be considered as the-
primary source of all the European alphabets, ancient and modern. We need
not, from this, suppose the Phoenicians to have been the actual inventors of
alphabetic writing, which perhaps had its origin in Egypt (cf. § 19), commenc-
ing in an abbreviation of hieroglyphics.

1. The common opinion ascribing to Cadmus the introduction of letters is founded
upon an assertion of Herodotus (1. v. 28, 58). But it is contradicted by Diodorus
Siculus (I. v. 57, 74), who relates that the Greeks possessed letters several genera-
tions before Cadmus, and used them for pubUc monuments, and that a deluge de-
stroyed these first elements of civilization. Pausanias (1. i. 43) speaks of an inscrip-
tion read by him at Megara, on the most ancient monument in Greece. The date
of this monument, according to Larcher, was 1678 B. C. The inscription was there-
fore anterior to Cadmus, and of course Pelasgic.

But the alphabet of the Greeks bears, in the names, order, and forms of hs letters,
a striking resemblance to those of nations belonging to the Semhic race, i. e. the
Phoenicians, Samaritans, and Jews. How is this to be reconciled with the idea, that
the Pelasgi had an alphabet before the arrival of Cadmus? Or if there was a pre-
vious alphabet in Greece, was it given up on the arrival of Cadmus, and the Phoeni-
cian adopted in its place? It is conjectured by some, that the Pelasgi had the
rha3nician alphabet from the first, and that Cadmus only introduced a new material
for writing. Before him, stones and metals were the chief materials. If he intro-
duced the art of writing on the palm-leaf, which was used for the purpose by the
Egyptians before the papyrus, it would very naturally be adopted instead of the mora
difficult and laborious use of metals. And the letters traced on the palm-leaf might
with propriety be termed ypafinara ^oiviKeTa, the epithet referring not to the form, OJ



p. IV. THE GREEK ALPHABET. FORM OF LETTERS. 329

nature, or origin of the letters (those of Cadmus being the same with those of the Pe-
lasgi), but to the material on which they were written.

SchCll, Hist. Lit. Gr. L. iii. ch. 3.— Cf. H'eier, Gescliichte der Schreibkunst, cited § 32.— Renaudot, Sur I'origine des lettres
Grecques, in Mem. de VAcad. des Iiiscr. vol. ii. p. 231.

2. Respecting the origin of the PhoBnician alphabet, see Hi/g, Erfindung der Buch-
stabenschrift (cited § 32). — "This wrher," says Scholl, "has shown that the Phoeni-
cian letters are hieroglyphic, and the hieroglyphics, Egyptian. Aleph signifies ox,
and its primitive form resembles the head of that animal. Bith signifies house, and its
first form represents an Egyptian house or hut pointed at the top. Gomel (gimmel)
would sincnily a camel, and this letter was originally the head of the same." The
reader will not fail to perceive, that in each of these the principle of ChampoUion's
system of interpreting the Egyptian hieroglyphics (cf. § 16. 1) is exactly exemplified.

For a comparison of the Greek and Hrbrew alphabets, see BultmanrVs Gram, by Robinson, p. 459 ; Stuart's Heb. Gram. p. 385 ;
—of the Greek and PhfEiiician, Shvckford, Sac. an J Frof. Hist. B. iv.— See also Plates in Astle,c\ted \ 32, and those in Edinb. Ency.
clopaaiia, iliusiraljug alphabets ; and table of Alphabets in G. Higgins, The Celtic Druids. Cf. Southern Review, Aug. 1829. p. I.—
AI>o£. Fry. ci!c-:i ^ 47.— In our Plate X.XXVlll. fig. E, a few corrc5|^^ondiDg letters of several alphabeU are given; for the explana-
tion, see Descrip'.ioa of Plates, page X-\VII.

On the ri.iEn cian language and writings, see IV. Gesenius, Falarograph. Studien Ober PhOnicische und Punische Schriften, ic
Lpz. 1S35. i—Same, Scripturae Linguaeque Phoeniciae Monumenta, &c. Lpz. 1837. 4. — Cf. For. Quar. Review, No. xlii. p. 445.

On the hierozlyphic origin of alphabe's. see Lamb's Hierogljphical Alphabet of the Hebrews /. G. L. Kosegarten, De Prisca

3;??ptoruni literatura, cum tabulis. Vimar. IS2S. 4.

§ 46. The alphabet of Cadmus was incomplete, consisting-, as is commonly
thought, of only sixteen letters, viz. A, B, r, A, E, I, K, A, M, X, O, n, P, 2,
T, T. Soon after, Z, 0, H, and H were added, and subsequently, <J>, X, ">?, and
O. The former were termed Ks-busca or ^oivLxiLa ypa/x^ua-ra, Cadmean or
Phcenician letters. The additional characters are ascribed to Palamedes, Si-
monides, and Epicharmus. These letters soon were received among the lonians,
and being somewhat changed by them, formed what was called the Ionian
alphabet, which contained twenty-four letters, and of which Callistratus the
Samian is considered as the author. The lonians imparted these improvements
to the other Grecian nations, and after the middle of the 94th Olympiad, about
E. C. 403, the Athenians made use of this alphabet in the public writings of
the state.

1. " The common assertion of writers on the old Greek alphabet has been, that it
consisted originally of only sixteen letters. But this assertion is built upon no definite
and certain testimony. I'he oldest writers, Plerodotus (v. 58) and Diodorus Siculus
(v. 24), who relate the story of Cadmus, say nothing of the 7iumber of letters; and
the accounts of later times disagree. Aristotle makes eighteen (Plin. Hist. Nat. 7.
56); another account seventeen (Plut. Sympos. 8. qusest. 3. Isidor. Orig. I. 3.)"

Stuart's Hi-b. Gram. p. 385.— See Wolf, Proleg. Horn. § 10,—Hug't work before cited (§ 45, 32) p. 15.— Also Buttmann's Gram,
by Robinson, p. 459.

2 v. Cadmus is also said to have introduced the art of reckoning, and the use of
several important signs {tTriarjua) to express number; as P<j^v (r or F) for the number
6, Ko^TTa (Y or q) for 90, and o-afyTr? ( §) for 900.

Respeciing the use of letters to designate numbers, see P. III. § 175l

§ 47. The exact form of the earliest Greek letters cannot be decided, because
there are now no written monuments of so high antiquity. That they under-
went many changes in shape is, from the nature of the case, in the highest de-
gree probable, and it is possible that characters, afterwards supposed to be new,
were merely intentional changes of this kind. Their resemblance to the Phoe-
nician in form was no doubt greater at first than at a later period. Indeed evi-
dence of various changes is still found upon existing medals and inscriptions,
although, in a matter where so much may be arbitrary, the epoch of the changes,
or the age in which each different form was used, cannot be accurately deter*
mined.

BlUtner, Ver^Ieichungstafeln der Schriftarten verschiedner VOlker, GOtting. 1771. 4.—Jlstle, before cited— Edm. Fry, Panto
graphia, (.ontAining copies of all the known alphabets, &c. Lond. 1799. S.— Knight's Aaalyt. Ess. on the Greek Alphabet. Lond.
1791. 4. § 26 -}f,nrfaucon, Palxograpl.ia Grasca. Par. lIQK—fV'lscn's Essay on Grammar, Phil. 1817, Ch. 1.

§ 48. The direction of the letters and lines in the writing of the most ancient
Greeks was the same as among the eastern nations, from right to left. This
might be expected if their alphabet came from Phoenicia. Ere long the direc
tion was in the first line from ri^rht to left, in the second from left to right, and
so on in alternation, each line being connected to the next by a curve. This
method, as it represents the course of the ox in plowing, was termed jSovo
42 2 E 2



330 ARCHEOLOGY OF GREEK LITERATURE.

tpo^rjBbv. In this manner, for example, the laws of Solon were written, and
many public monuments, of which some yet remain. Another mode was termed
xvovrjbov, in which the letters were arranged perpendicularly, as by the modern
Chinese, in the form of a pillar; there was another, in which the lines were
successively shortened, in the form of a basket, OTtuptSov ; these, however, were
only for amusement and scarcely deserve to be mentioned. At length came into
general use the method followed by the moderns, of writing wholly from left to
right; its introduction among the Greeks is ascribed to Pronapides, who accord-
ing to some was a preceptor to Homer. {Diod. Sic. iii. 66.)

§ 49. In more ancient times the large form of the letters, or the uncial cha-
racter (literas majusculas, or quadratas, capitals), was always used in writing.
It constantly appears on the old Greek coins and inscriptions, and is found also
in the earliest manuscripts. The smaller form, or the cursive (literas semi-
quadraiae), became common first in the middle ages, in the eighth or ninth
century, and grew, it is likely, out of abbreviations and alterations of the larger
letters, which were always written singly, with no grouping or contracting.
An earlier use of this character is, however, proved by some remaining speci-
mens; it is found on a roll of papyrus, to which a date as early as 104 B. C.
has been conceded. Abbreviations of words were rarely made in ancient
writing, although not altogether unusual upon coins and inscriptions. Such
as were used were termed arju£i.a, ai.y7.ai, and jitoi-oypa^^uata. They consisted
chiefly in this; that sometimes, and principally in writing proper names, only
the initials were employed; or the middle of a word was omitted, and either
written over it, or the omission indicated by a small dash; or several letters
were combined into a single figure.

/. Nicolai, Tractatus de siglus Veterum. Lngd. Bat. 1706. i.—Corsini, Note Grscorum. Flor. \Ti9. i.—Placentinius, de
siglisVet. Grsc Opus Rom. 1757. Fo\.—^. Bbckh, Erklirung einer iEgyptischen Urkunde auf Papyrus in griech. Cursivschrift.
Berl. 1&2I. 4.— Of. § 107. 4.

On the origin and form of the Greek letters, and the modes of writing, see also Harles, In. in Ling. Gr. § i.—Gogxiet, Or. Laws,
&c. P. ii. B. 2. Ch. 6.— Of. § 104.

§ 50. The breathings, as they are now called, were, in the most ancient
writing of the Greeks, characters occupying a place in the line along with the
letters. Among the lonians the character was H, and among the iEolians it
v/as F, or what is called the Digamma. The former was joined to the smooth
consonants to render them aspirates, as in KHPONOS for Xporo^. Subsequently,
two smaller signs were formed out of H by dividing it, (■ and ■{ , and these were
used to indicate respectively the presence and absence of aspiration. After-
wards they were changed, by transcribers for the sake of convenience, into
another form, L ^"d J, and again after the ninth century into a form, and',
still easier for writing. The ancient Greek grammarians sometimes introduced
the breathing into the middle of a word, on the ground of its derivation or
composition, as for example, rttoj, 7i%7j6i,a%oi;. This practice Mazochi observed
in the Herculanean inscriptions, and Villoison also in a valuable manuscript of
Homer which was found in the library of St. Mark at Venice, belonging to the
tenth century.

See Lemgoisch, AuserUi. Bibliolhek. V. iii. p. 19.— Knight, Analyt. Ess. on Greek Alphabet.— Dazcw, de Consonantis sive
Adspirationis VAU virtute,— in his Miscellanea Critica. Lpz. 1800. 8. (Sect. iv. p. 89, 332.)

§ 51. The marks called accents were not commonly used by the Greeks,
because the true intonation of the language was sufficiently known to them, and
of course such helps were unnecessary. There is, at least, no mention of them
in the ancient authors, nor any trace of them in the oldest monuments of Greek
writing. But, when in the speech of common life many words received wrong
tones, the grammarians began in such cases to use signs to indicate the correct
utterance. About the year 200 B. C. the present accentual system was intro-
duced by Aristophanes of Byzantium ; yet considerable time elapsed before it
came into general use. Upon inscriptions belonging to the first century after
(/hrist, the accents have been found, but rarely. Perhaps these marks were
not wholly unknown to the more ancient Greeks, being designed not to point
out tones for the reader, but to serve as musical notes for the singer.

The accemeQ verse on a wall in Herculaneum, adduced by IVinckelmann [see his IVos-ks (cited § 32), ii. p. 124.— Cf. Pitturt
an' d'Eicol. U p. 34], is not considered genuine. Harles, Int. in Ling. Gr. Supp. 1. p. 9.



p. IV. PUNCTUATION. MATERIALS USED IN WRITING. 331

The doctrine of the Greelt accents is amply treated by Prof. K. F. Chr. IVapier (Helmsf. 1807. 8), -.vho refera also to the princi.
pal works on the subject.— See ViUoison's Anecd. Graec. 11. 131.— HaWei, Int. in Ling. Or. §6.— .iniaud, Sur les Accents de la
langue Grecque. Mem. .icad. hiscr. xxxii. 432,— For other references, see P. V. § 5. 4; § 7. 4. (g).

§ 52. Originally, likewise, sentences and their constituent members were not
disting-uished by any interpunction or intervening signs of separation. Not
only were the sentences without punctuation, but the words themselves were
often as near each other as the several letters of a single word. Sometimes,
however, on inscriptions the words are separated by points placed between
them. The invention of marks for punctuation is to be ascribed to Aristophanes,
the Greek grammarian before mentioned.

1 II. The whole system consisted in the different locations of a point or dot ; if
placed after the last letter at the top or above it (reXiia anynn), the dot indicated the
close of a sentence, or a period ; if placed after the last letter of a word at the bottom
or under it (t-n-otrrt/^^). then the dot was equivalent to a comma; and if placed after
the last letter in the middle {(^riyfir] nicrr))^ it corresponded to a colon or semicolon.
The comma or hypodiastole was by the grammarians often placed between words
which otherwise might be incorrectly divided, as, for example, lanv, a^ios, with the
sign between, that they might not be read iari vdlios • and the hyphen, a curved stroke
under the line, was sometimes used to indicate that two words constituted one com-
pound word, as in x^'Pjf<"P<Ji- Breaking off the lines was sometimes made to serve
instead of punctuation ; in this method (arixnpojg, cnxriSdv) every complete sentence
was made to begin a new hne, and often even the several members of the sentence
were thus arranged, in a form like that of verse.

2. Interpunction is not found in the earlier manuscripts now extant, although
written some centuries after the time of Aristophanes. Cf. '§ 104.

In modern printing, the following signs of interpunction are used ; viz. comma
( — .), colon ( — •), period ( — .), interrogation ( — ;), and lately, exclamation ( — I). The
diastole, or hypodiastole, is used in some cases ; as in o, n (neuter of oo-nj) and t6, ts
(article) to distinguish them from Sn and tote.

For other niarks, see Robinson's Translation o{ BuU-mann's Gr. Grammar, § 15, 29, 30.

§ 53. The materials, on which it was customary to write in Greece, were differ-
ent according to the different purposes of the writing. Stone, brass, lead, wood,
and the like, were employed when the design was to record memorable events
for posterity, or to promulgate public decrees or laws. For common and private
purposes, the more usual materials were leaves, inner bark of trees {■^7.oib{);
afterwards, parchment, wooden tablets simple or covered with wax, ivory, linen
cloth, and Egyptian paper. The latter, formed from the fibres or bark of the
papyrus (,i3i,;3?t05), was, according to the opinion of some, first used in Greece in
the time of Alexander the Great, but most probably earlier. There was also
another variety of paper formed of the layers of inner bark {^v\oxo.i^r lov) , and
another made from cotton (;^ap-r'coi' ^ouSvxia<;, charta gossypina or bnmbycinaj.
These two, however, were common only in the later ages. Still later was the
invention of paper made from linen {charta lintea) and from rags as at the
present day, belonging perhaps to the middle of the 13th century.

1. The laws of Solon were inscribed on tablets of wood, called afoi/ej, which are
said to have been of a pyramidal shape, and so fixed as to turn on a pivot or axis.
\Gellius, Is Oct. Att. ii. 42.) The term KvpSm was also applied to such tablets. — The
term X'i.<""'?s was general, designating any substance employed for writing. Skins of
animals rudely prepared {Si(pde.pat, (7kvtos) seem to have been used at an early period. —
Parrhment was first prepared at Perganios, whence its name Uepyafirivfi, Three
kinds are mentiored ; "that of the natural color; the yellow, the bicotor membrana
)i Persius (Sat. iii. 10), which seems to have been so called because one side of the
leaf was white and the other yellow; and the purple, the parchment being tinged
(vith that color, when silver or golden letters were to be used." Cf. § 55.

2. The pyratiiiilal or triangular tablets above nienlioned, said to have been turned upon a pivot
)r axis, may be illustrated by a specimen of ancient British writine, civen in Plate XXXVIII.,
in fig. B, taken from Fn/s Pantographia (cited $ 47). It exhibits'a'rnethod practiced by the
aboriginal Britons. The letters were cut on sticks, most commonly squared, sonjetimes triangu-
lar ; so that one stick had iliree or four lines. The triangular slicks were specially used for a
peculiar kind "f meter, called triban or triplet, three lines forming a stanza. Several sticks w&rc
put together in a frame, and fiili-d so that they could be turned on their axes; thus each side

might he easily read. Somethina similar to this method was practiced in the Runic tcandSj

which were sticks of willow inscribed with certain ciiaracters, and used by the heathen tribes
of the north of Europe for maaical ceremonies. The Ruvie almavac.s are similar wands or sticks
used by the peasants of Sweden and Norway, for noting lime or keeping accounts.

Cr. IV. C. Grimm. Leber Deuliche Runcn. Gctt. IS21.— /. IVartcn, Hist. En?. Poetry. I.ond. IS24. 4 vols. ?. (I. p. xxvi. s«.)
i. B. L. Uitren, Geschichte des Stud, der griech. und rOm. Literatur. Golt. 1797-l:^01. 2 vols. 8 — G. F. H'eJirs, vora Paowr



332 ARCHEOLOGY OF GREEK LITERATURE.

und den vor der Erfindung desselben Qblich gen-esenen Schreibmassen, Halle, 1789. 8.— Suppl. Han. 1790. 8.— .a. F. Pfdfftr
Ueber Bilcher-Hacdschriften. Erlang. 1810. 8. — Caylus, Mem. de 1' Acad, des Inscr. xxvi. — For an account of the ancient aiat»
rials for writing, see also ^m. Quart. Rev. vol. ii. p. 307.— Taylor, as cited § SS.—Schwarlz, as cited § 1 18. 2,

§ 54. The usual instrument for writing on the harder materials, and also on
the tablets covered with wax, was the style {stv^o^, 7pa4)Etor, yXvq>nov). This
was pointed at one end, and broad at the other, for the purpose of erasing letters
and smoothing the surface of the wax, if a mistake were made, or the writer for
any reason wished an alteration. It was usually made of iron, sometimes of
ivory. For drawing the letters with colors or some sort of ink, sometimes a
pencil (ypatts) was employed, but more commonly a reed (xaxa,iioj, 6om|). The
reed or cane chiefly used was that from Egypt or Cnidus. It was sharpened
and split for the purpose, like our pen, which was not known to the ancients,
the beginning of the 7th century being the earliest period of its use.

Persons of fortune and rank often wrote with a calamus of silver ; something pro-
bably like our silver pens. Both the styles and the reeds were kept in cases. •

The earliest evidence of the use of the quill is given by Isidorus, a Latin writer

of the 7th century, who employs the word penna to designate a writing pen. ■

The pencil (vTroypa(pii, called by the Romans penicillus or peniculus) was properly an
instrument for painting. Its invention is ascribed to ApoUodorus, an Athenian
painter, B. C. 408. Cf § 222.

Bec'imann's HistoiT of Inventions fcited § 32).— Isidorus, Origines, lib. vi. c. 13. For different forms of the style and reed, see

Plate XXXVII. fig. 3, 4, 9 ; also in fig. 1.

§ 55. The ink was commonly black (^txar, fxi'Ka.v ypa(|)£.xoj'); and was prepared,
according to Pliny and Vitruvius, from soot and gum. Among the ancients,
the titles of books and sometimes of particular sections were written in red ink
(|Ui,?.ro$, minium, rubrica, hence ruhrick). In the middle ages, red ink was much
used, particularly for initial letters, signatures, borderings, and ornaments ; a
superior, very brilliant kind, called iyxavatov fencaustumj, was used in the
signatures to the public documents of the Greek emperors. The practice of
adorning the large initials with gold, silver, and images, and of writing upon
purple or violet-colored parchment with letters of gold or silver, seems to have
commenced in the later ages, introduced perhaps by the Byzantines. With
the ancients, however, it was customary to polish the parchment or paper with
pumice-stone, and, for the sake of durability as well as fragrance, to spread
over it the oil of cedar.

'' From ancient authors, as well as from the figures in manuscripts, we learn thai
they used a sponge to cleanse the reed, and to rub out such letters as were written
by mistake ; a knife for mending the reed ; pumice for a similar purpose, or to smooth
the parchment ; compasses, for measuring the distances of the Unes ; scissors for cut-
ling the paper ; a puncher, to point out the beginning and end of each line ; a rule,
to draw hnes and divide the sheets into columns ; a glass containing sand, and an-
other glass filled with water, probably to mix whh the ink."

On ink. &c F- A. Bbert, zur Handschriftenkunde. Lpz. 1825. 8.— On the materials employed in WTiting by the Greeks, see also
Nilich, Ue Hist. Horn. i. p. 70. (Cf. P. V. § 50. 4).— Cf. Horace, Art. Poet. 331. Pliny, 1. xvi. c. 39.

§ 56. The ancient form of books was that of Rolls (h'Kriu.ar'a), resembling
modern charts or maps when rolled up, with writing only on the inner side.
The several strips or leaves of the parchment or paper were glued to each othei
at the ends, either before or after the writing; from this circumstance the first
strip or leaf, that uppermost on the roll, was called Ttpco-rdxoy.Xoi/, and the last
iaZ'^'^oxoJJkov. The whole was then wound upon a rod, or cylinder (dorpaXt'ffzof,
ofKpaXo^), which was ordinarily made of wood, or ivory, and had at both ends
projecting ornaments, knobs or the like, called axpofx^dua, or xipara. The title
((5uXXa3o5) was written on the back of the protocol visible after tne wmdmg of
the roll, or on a small separate strip (mtraxLov) attached to the edge of the
roll. The book itself, or whole roll, was encompassed with bands, or enclosed
in a case.

The teiTO aiTTvPai seems to have been applied to cases made of parchment ; also
the phrase cciJuciTivaL cTo\ai. Cic. ad Att. iv. 5.

Heeren am Gibbon allude to a singular manuscript, said to have existed in the library at Con-
stantinople ($ 76): "an ancient manuscript of Homer, on a roll of parchment one hundred and
twenty feet in length, the intestines, as it was fabled, of a prodigious serpent." — Gibbon, Dec.
and Fall of Rom. Emp. ch. liii. (N. Y. 1822, vol. v. p. 367.)



p. IV. FORM OF BOOKS. COPYISTS. 833

§ 57 M Although the roll was the most common form, yet the Greeks had books
of a quadrangular form, with the writing on both sides of the leaves {diria06ypa(poi),
S'ich were termed SiXroi, a name hrst applied to tablets or pieces of writing, resem-
bhrg m shape the letter Delta. The invention of the quadrangular form is generally
asciibed to Attalus king of Pergamos, but came into general use first in the 5th cen-
tal y after Christ. Several leaves or sheets, folded double, were placed in layers one
upon another and joined by thread or strings ; and these were said to be rpio-o-a, re-
Tpaoia, Treiruoia, (eniiones, quateniioins, &c. according to the number. The term
Terpaha, quah rnioiits, was also used sometimes to signify whole books of this form.



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