Anthon’s “Manual of Greek literature from the earliest authentic periods to the close of the Byzantine era”

I have been reading this 1853 book by Charles Anthon, of which I obtained an off-print some time ago.  In fact I’ve been reading it from the back forwards, as I wanted to know about Greek writers of the Imperial and Byzantine periods.  Most of the book concerns the classical period, padded with a great deal of information of no real use.

Anthon devotes 50 or so pages to the Roman and Byzantine-era writers.  Unfortunately he doesn’t give the writers in chronological order, but instead lists by subject, and only then in chronological author.  So Claudius Ptolemy the author of the Almagest appears twice, once under astronomical writers and once under geographers. 

The general approach is that of the patrologies: give an introduction, then an entry on the first writer, then a bibliography, then the next writer,  and so on.  In reading such a thing, dry as it may seem, hard concise information pours into the reader.  It’s like exploring a strange land, full of byways, and holding a map in your hand containing directions to all parts of it.

The entries may be outdated, but they are still full of interest to the ordinary reader, listing writers of whom I have never heard and their extant works.  There are sections on scientific and geographical writers, philosophers, grammarians, historians.  I learn something every time I pick it up.

Is there any modern equivalent today, that covers the same Roman and Byzantine-era Greek writers, in concise and chronological order?  I don’t know of one.  But … why not?

6 thoughts on “Anthon’s “Manual of Greek literature from the earliest authentic periods to the close of the Byzantine era”

  1. If it was published in 1853 it is most definitely outdated since the major era of discoveries of Ancient and Byzantine works end around WWI. The Epic of Digenis Acritas for example was discovered ca. 1880. Of course discoveries have not ended after WWI, its just that by that time most libraries had been explored and it was basicly left to palimpsests and papyri for new discoveries, which tend to give VERY fragmentary texts.

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