Athenaeus' "fragments" of non-fragmentary prose authors and their implications

S. Douglas Olson

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This article expands on observations made by Dominique Lenfant regarding Athenaeus' citations of Herodotus, arguing that Xenophon and Plato, and thus presumably all prose authors, are cited in a similar fashion. This means that we can generally tell the difference between Athenaeus' quotations (which appear to be more or less reliable) and his paraphrases (which are not). I maintain that the situation is more problematic than Lenfant suggests, for again and again what seem to be minor edits of source-texts by Athenaeus himself or perhaps mere slips of an anonymous scribe's pen substantially affect the apparent meaning of the prose fragments preserved in the Deipnosophists. I also show that a number of passages in Herodotus, Xenophon and Plato that on Lenfant's criteria would have to be regarded as quotations, and thus as largely faithful renderings of the original, are badly damaged or have been subject to ideologically driven distortion of a sort that would be undetectable in the case of genuinely fragmentary texts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-450
Number of pages28
JournalAmerican Journal of Philology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018

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© 2018 by Johns Hopkins University Press.


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