More Zenobius

A query in CLASSICS-L has brought some more info on this obscure 2nd century AD compiler of proverbs.

Andrew Chugg writes:

It’s a bit questionable whether Zenobius is an author or merely a compiler, since according to the Suda (s.v. Zenobios) his Proverbia consists of the proverbs of Arius Didymus of Alexandria and Tarrhaeus (Lucillus of Tarrha in Crete). He himself seems to have taught rhetoric under Hadrian in Rome.

I don’t know of a modern English translation of the whole work, but he is often quoted on various matters, especially concerning Alexandria.

If you’re mainly interested in Proverbia 3.94, then you could try Fraser’s Ptolemaic Alexandria. If you are interested in the whole work, then scholars of Didymus may be able to help. Obviously, it is quite likely that 3.94 is actually Didymus.

Terrence Lockyer adds:

The TLG text (for “Zenobius Sophista” as it classifies him) is from:

 – E. L. von Leutsch and F. G. Schneidewin (edd.), Epitome collectionum Lucilli Tarrhaei et Didymi, Corpus paroemiographorum Graecorum, vol. 1 (Goettingen : Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht 1839;  repr. Hildesheim : Georg Olms Verlag 1965)

which is in Google Books, whence it can be downloaded as a PDF, at

and thereby also in the Internet archive at

from which (following the “All files:  HTTP” link) one can download the book in PDF.

There is an apparent scanning issue on pp. 440-1 of the book / 501-2 of the PDF affecting the lower part of the notes, and again between pp. 513 and 514 of the book / 572 and 575 of the PDF, where, however, the affected pages seem to be duplicated, so nothing is lost), DJVU (which I’ve not checked), or the original scans, from the list of files at

The issues with a small number of pages (4 of 603, and two of them duplicates) do not appear when one reads the book on-line at Google Books, so presumably will not be visible in the PDF downloadable thence.

The (Google Books) PDF looks pretty decent, but there is an issue at the bottom left of p. 223 (280 of the PDF) where a mark visible in browsing the book via Google is much darker and obscures a bit of the note (one or two words on the left of the last three lines), and again on 233 (290 of the PDF, where the first half of the last three lines in the left column is affected), and on 258 (315 of the PDF, perhaps two words obscured);  while 247 (304 of the PDF) is wavy, there is a duplication of pp. 440-1 (on PDF pp. 501-2) with a hand in view on each duplicated page (as in the Internet Archive version, where I should have said that the pages are in fact also repeated, so nothing is actually lost), and pp. 491 (552) and 493 (554) have issues at bottom right.

P. 491 appears to be missing from the Internet Archive PDF.

In short, neither file is perfect, but the two together seem usable enough.

The text of Zenobius starts on p.55 of the Google books PDF, covering pp.1-177 of the edition.  There is no translation of any of it, sadly.  The pages contain only a limited amount of Greek; p.24 seems to contain 57 words, suggesting a total word count of ca. 11,000 words; about £500, at 5p a word, if I commissioned a translation.  Tempted…! 

The TLG tells me it’s actually 27,271, or about double that.  Still not a huge amount… but then there is the hassle of finding a translator and chasing him up, etc.  If I could pay the money and just get the translation, I probably would!


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