Aphthonius of Antioch

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Aphthonius of Antioch (Greek: Ἀφθόνιος Ἀντιοχεὺς ὁ Σύρος[1]) or Aelius Festus Aphthonius, Greek sophist and rhetorician, flourished in the second half of the 4th century, or even later. Nothing is known of his life, except that he was a friend of Libanius and of a certain Eutropius, perhaps the author of the epitome of Roman history. Possibly of African origin, he was considered to be one of the most important classical rhetoricians.[2]

We possess by Aphthonius the Προγυμνάσματα, a textbook on the elements of rhetoric, with exercises for the use of the young before they entered the regular rhetorical schools. They apparently formed an introduction to the Τέχνη of Hermogenes of Tarsus. He wrote a metrical handbook De Metris, in four books, which was added to the Ars Grammatica of Gaius Marius Victorinus[3] sometime before 400, but not by Victorinus himself.

Aphthonius' style is pure and simple, and ancient critics praise his "Atticism." The book maintained its popularity as late as the 17th century, especially in Germany. A collection of forty fables by Aphthonius, after the style of Aesop, is also extant.[4]


  1. ^ Argyropoulos, Joannes, Prolegomena in Aphthonii progymnasmata
  2. ^ Brill's New Pauly online: Aphthonius, Ἀφθόνιος; rhetorician of the 4th and 5th century A.D., from Antioch; student of Libanius; his speeches are lost, but 40 fables including some adapted from Babrius survive, as well as Progymnasmata
  3. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Aphthonius, Aelius Festus". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 168. 
  4. ^  One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Aphthonius". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 168. 

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