He was born in Islington, London and first educated first at University College School and King's College School, then at Queen's College, Oxford. He obtained a first class in Moderations (1860) and in the final classical schools (1862), and became fellow of Exeter College, Oxford (1863), reader in Greek (1883), Regius Professor of Greek (1893–1908), and Student of Christ Church. He received honorary degrees from various universities, and was elected corresponding member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences.
He is chiefly known for his editions of Greek philosophical works: Heracliti Ephesii Reliquiae (1877); Prisciani Lydi quae extant (edited for the Berlin Academy in the Supplementum Aristotelicum, 1886); Aristotle, Ethica Nicomachea (1890), De Arte Poetica (1898); Contributions to the Textual Criticism of the Nicomachean Ethics (1892).
Bywater was associated with the Oxford Aristotelian Society from its inception in the early 1880s and remained its principal guiding force until his retirement in 1908. Here he would discuss with scholars such as J.A. Smith, Harold Joachim, and W.D. (later Sir David) Ross the minutiae of Aristotelian philology, textual criticism, and translation. The Society's discussions led to the full translation of Aristotle's works, first under the joint editorship of J.A. Smith and W.D. Ross and later under Ross as sole editor, between 1912 and 1954.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
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