Scholia (singular scholium or scholion, from Ancient Greek:
σχόλιον, "comment, interpretation") are grammatical, critical,
or explanatory comments, either original or extracted from
pre-existing commentaries, which are inserted on the margin of the
manuscript of an ancient author, as glosses. One who writes scholia is
a scholiast. The earliest attested use of the word dates to the 1st
2 Important sets of scholia
3 List of ancient commentaries
4 Other uses
6 External links
Ancient scholia are important sources of information about many
aspects of the ancient world, especially ancient literary history. The
earliest scholia, usually anonymous, date to the 5th or 4th century BC
(such as the "a" scholia on the Iliad). The practice of compiling
scholia continued to late Byzantine times, outstanding examples being
Archbishop Eustathius' massive commentaries to
Homer in the 12th
century and the scholia recentiora of
Thomas Magister and Demetrius
Triclinius in the 14th.
Scholia were altered by successive copyists and owners of the
manuscript, and in some cases, increased to such an extent that there
was no longer room for them in the margin, and it became necessary to
make them into a separate work. At first, they were taken from one
commentary only, subsequently from several. This is indicated by the
repetition of the lemma ("headword"), or by the use of such phrases as
"or thus", "alternatively", "according to some", to introduce
different explanations, or by the explicit quotation of different
Important sets of scholia
The most important are those on the Homeric Iliad, especially those
found in the 10th-century manuscripts discovered by Villoison in 1781
Biblioteca Marciana in Venice (see further Venetus A, Homeric
scholarship). The scholia on Hesiod, Pindar, Sophocles, Aristophanes
Apollonius Rhodius are also extremely important. In Latin, the
most important are those of
Servius on Virgil, of Acro and Porphyrio
on Horace, and of Donatus on Terence.
List of ancient commentaries
Some ancient scholia are of sufficient quality and importance to be
labelled "commentaries" instead. The existence of a commercial
translation is often used to distinguish between "scholia" and
"commentaries". The following is a chronological list of ancient
commentaries written defined as those for which commercial
translations have been made:
Asconius (c. 55 AD) on Cicero's Pro Scauro, In Pisonem, Pro Milone,
Pro Cornelio and In Toga Candida
Servius (c. 400 AD) on Virgil's Aeneid
Macrobius (c. 400 AD) on Cicero's Dream of Scipio
Proclus (c. 440 AD) on Plato's Parmenides and Timaeus and Euclid's
Boethius (c. 520 AD) on Cicero's Topics
Spinoza provided his own scholia to many of the propositions in his
Ethics, commentaries upon and expansions of the individual
propositions, or sometimes short conclusions to sections of
argumentation running over a number of propositions.
In modern mathematics texts, scholia are marginal notes which may
amplify a line of reasoning or compare it with proofs given earlier. A
famous example is Bayes' scholium, in which he presents a
justification for assuming a uniform distribution[disambiguation
needed] for the prior of the parameter of a Bernoulli process.
Another famous example of a somewhat different use is to be found in
Brook Taylor's Methodus Incrementorum, in which the propositions
demonstrated are often followed by a scholium which further explains
the significance of the proposition.
Scholia is an academic journal in the field of classical studies.
At Balliol College, Oxford, "Scholiasts" is the classics-oriented
Cicero Ad Atticum 16.7.
^ Murray, F. H. (February 1930). "Note on a scholium of Bayes".
Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society. American Mathematical
Society. 36 (2): 129–132. Retrieved January 3, 2018.
Dickey, Eleanor. Ancient Greek Scholarship: A Guide to Finding,
Reading, and Understanding Scholia, Commentaries, Lexica, and
Grammatical Treatises. Oxford:
OUP for the APA, 2007.
Reynolds, L.D. and N.G. Wilson. Scribes & Scholars: a Guide to the
Transmission of Greek &
Latin Literature, 3rd ed. Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1991. ISBN 0-19-872146-3.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in
the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Scholium".
Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.