A Book Mentioning Demetrios of Scepsis


In her Book, From Alexandria to Babylon, Francesca Schironi mentions Demetrios of Scepsis twice.

First when discussing the larger context of glossographical works, she describes the tradition of glossography in the library of Pergamon. And, even if she prefers the Alexandrian hypothesis, she mentions a fragment of Demetrios of Scepsis illustrating this kind of interests. Indeed in fr. 70 (Gaede) he attributes the word χεράδες to the dialect of Apollonia in Pontus. As it is difficult at first glance to see how this piece of information would fit a commentary on the Trojan Catalogue, it provides at least a good example illustrating how far-reaching his Τρωικὸς διάκοσμος must have been.
The interest of Demetrios, or more generally of scholars linked to the library of Pergamon, for places with strange, foreign names, especially those in the areas around Pergamon, can also be seen in the preserved attempts to explain for instance the name of Demetrios’ hometown Scepsis. Several attempts to explain the name have come down to us (see below january 2008). One of them is linked to the name of Demetrios (ΣD Il. 20.3) and Strabo wonders about the validity of Greek etymologies about “barbarian” names such as the one of Scepsis (Str. 13.1.52).

The second mention of Demetrios of Scepsis occurs in her commentary of fragment 5 of the preserved glossographical work. The wording ]ἐν τῷ Τρωικῷ[ suggests the title of a work and, of course, the one given by Demetrios to his work is among the first the be mentioned (ὁ Τρωικὸς διάκοσμος). This is certainly not the only possibility and the author makes several other suggestions.

But there is a striking coincidence to be mentioned. It has often been argued about Athenaeus that he may not have read all the sources he quotes but would have used lexicographical works, where he found the quoted sources already listed under the lemmata he was interested in. This seems to be true for at least two of the fragments of Demetrios coming from Athenaeus (Athen.4.141e = fr. 1 and Athen. 7.300d = fr. 11). To be more assertive further studies should be done on Athenaeus but even so, and only with a hypothetical mention of Demetrios, the book gives precious insight about such intermediary works one has to presuppose between the Hellenistic scholars and their later users.

Giuseppe Zecchini, La cultura storica di Ateneo, Milano 1989

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