Parthenius of Nicaea
Parthenius of Nicaea or Myrlea in Bithynia was a Greek grammarian and poet. According to the Suda, he was the son of Heraclides and Eudora, or according to Hermippus of Berytus, his mother's name was Tetha. He was taken prisoner by Cinna in the Mithridatic Wars and carried to Rome in 72 BC. He subsequently visited Neapolis, where he taught Greek to Virgil, according to Macrobius. Parthenius is said to have lived until the accession of Tiberius in 14 AD.
He is sometimes called "the last of the Alexandrians".
His only surviving work, the Erotica Pathemata (Of the Sorrows of Love), was set out, the poet says in his preface, "in the shortest possible form" and dedicated to the poet Cornelius Gallus, as "a storehouse from which to draw material". Erotica Pathemata is a collection of thirty-six epitomes of love-stories, all of which have tragic or sentimental endings, taken from histories and historicised fictions as well as poetry.
As Parthenius generally quotes his authorities, these stories are valuable as affording information on the Alexandrian poets and grammarians.
The mythical or legendary characters whose stories are presented in Erotica Pathemata are as follows.
- Leucippus, son of Xanthius
- Hipparinus of Heraclea
- Leucone, wife of Cyanippus
- Antheus, loved and killed by Cleoboea
- Cratea, mother of Periander
- Pancrato, daughter of Iphimedeia
- Aëro, daughter of Oenopion
- Pisidice of Methymna
- Hipparinus of Syracuse
- Apriate (see Trambelus)
- Anthippe (see Epirus)
In Parthenius' own time he is not famous for writing prose but his poems. These are listed below:
- Dirge on Archelais
- Dirge on Auxithemis
- A Greek original of Moretum
The Surviving Manuscript
Parthenius is one of the few ancient writers whose work survives in only one manuscript. The only surviving manuscript of Parthenius was called Palatinus Heidelbergensis graecus 398 (P), probably written in mid-9th century. It contains a diverse mixture of geography, excerpts from Hesychius of Alexandria, paradoxography, epistolography and mythology.
Editions of Parthenius
- 1531: Editio princeps, edited by Janus Cornarius. Basle, Froben.
- 1675: Historiae poeticae scriptores antiqui, edited by Thomas Gale, Paris.
- 1798: Legrand and Heyne, Göttingen.
- 1824: Corpus scriptorum eroticorum Graecorum, Passow, Leipzig.
- 1843: Analecta Alexandrina, ed. August Meineke, Berlin.
- 1856: Didot edition, Erotici scriptores, Hirschig, Paris.
- 1858: Hercher, Erotici Scriptores Graeci, Leipzig.
- 1902: Edgar Martini, Mythographi Graeci, Leipzig.
- 1916: S. Gaselee, Longus: Daphnis and Chloe and the love romances of Parthenius and other fragments, with English translation. ISBN-L069.
- 2000: Parthenius of Nicaea: the poetical fragments and the Erōtika pathēmata. ISBN 0-19-815253-1. Reviewed by Christopher Francese at The Bryn Mawr Classical Review
- Michèle Biraud, Dominique Voisin, and Arnaud Zucker (trans. and comm.), Parthénios de Nicée. Passions d'amour. Grenoble: Éditions Jérôme Millon, 2008. Pp. 314. Reviewed by Simone Viarre at The Bryn Mawr Classical Review
- Suda, Parthenius. Cf. J. L. Lightfoot, (1999), Parthenius of Nicaea: the poetical fragments and the Erotika pathemata, page 9. Oxford University Press
- Longus, John MaxwellEdmonds (contributor), Parthenius, (Translated by George Thornley and Stephen Gaselee) (1916). "Daphnis & Chloe" and (dual books under one cover) "The Love Romances Of Parthenius And Other Fragments". Original from Harvard University: G.P. Putnam's Sons. p. 251.
- Macrobius, Sat. v. 18.
- J. L. Lightfoot, Parthenius of Nicaea: the poetical fragments and the Erōtika pathēmata, p.304.
- Online text: Parthenius, Love Romances translated by S. Gaselee, 1916.
- J. L. Lightfoot, Parthenius of Nicaea: the poetical fragments and the Erōtika pathēmata, p. 304.
- The Suda. Parthenius.