|Parent(s)||Mnesitheus of Alexandria (father)|
Little is known of Apollonius Dyscolus, other than that he was born at Alexandria, son of Mnesitheus. The precise dates for his life are not known. His son Aelius Herodianus, who wrote on phonology, appears to have moved to Rome at the time of Marcus Aurelius. From this it is inferred that his father must have been a contemporary of Hadrian, and may have spent a short period in Rome during the reign of Antoninus Pius. One tradition holds that he was so poor that he could not afford papyri to write on, and was constrained to avail himself of potsherds to write down his thoughts. His monicker ho dúskolos signifying "the difficult" or "crabby/grouchy" may reflect the sour temper of someone reduced to eking out a living in extreme indigence. Various interpretations have been advanced arguing the nicknames was expressive of his highly compressed, difficult style, or as illustrating his cantankerously disputatious manner, or as alluding to his habit of citing arcane words in contests with other grammarians, in order to perplex them. He died in poverty in what was formerly the royal quarter of the city of Alexandria.
He was the founder of scientific grammar syntax, and is styled by Priscian a maximus auctor artis grammaticae ("the greatest authority on the science of grammar"), and grammaticorum princeps ("prince of grammarians"). He wrote extensively on the parts of speech. Of the twenty books named in the Suda, four are extant: on syntax, and three smaller treatises: on adverbs, on conjunctions, and on pronouns One characteristic which was to influence later generations was Apollonius's deployment of philosophical concepts in grammatical analysis. The earlier Alexandrine grammatical tradition was familiar with distinctions such as that between genos and eidos, but these were not used in refining distinctions about the parts of speech. Apollonius drew on Stoic ontology to analyse the noun and the verb.
He and his son Aelius Herodianus had an enormous influence on all later grammarians.
- Householder, Fred Walter (1981). The Syntax of Apollonius Dyscolus. John Benjamins Publishing. ISBN 978-9-027-24504-5.
- Ildefonse, Frédérique (1997). La Naissance de la Grammaire dans l'Antiquité grecque. Paris: Vrin. pp. 253–445. ISBN 2-7116-1311-9.
- Lallot, Jean (1997a). Apollonius Dyscole: De la construction: Introduction, texte et traduction. Volume 1. Paris: CNRS Éditions. ISBN 978-2-711-61321-2.
- Lallot, Jean (1997b). Apollonius Dyscole: De la construction: Notes et index. Volume 2. Paris: CNRS Éditions. ISBN 978-2-711-61321-2.
- Luhtala, Anneli (2005). Grammar and Philosophy in Late Antiquity: A Study of Priscian's Sources. John Benjamins Publishing. ISBN 978-9-027-24598-4.
- Mandilarás, Vassileios (1973). The Verb in the Greek Non-literary Papyri. Athens: Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Scienbces.
- Robins, Robert H. (2011) [First published 1993]. The Byzantine Grammarians: Their Place in History. Walter de Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-110-85722-1.
- Sandys, John Edwin (2010) [First published 1903]. A History of Classical Scholarship: From the End of the Sixth Century B.C. to the End of the Middle Ages. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-1-108-02706-9.
- Schneider, Richard (1878). Apollonii Scripta minora. Teubner.
- Andreas U. Schmidhauser, "Apollonius Dyscolus. De pronomine pars generalis", PhD thesis, University of Geneva, 2007. Comprehensive critical text with English translation.
- Apollonius Dyscolus – a website dedicated to Apollonius.
- Grecae linguae dialecti, in scholae regiae westmonasteriensis usum (...) praefationem & appendicem ex Apollonii Dyscoli fragmento inedito, J. F. Reitzius (ed.), Hgae-comitis, apud Joannem Neaulme, Biblipolam., 1738.
- Historiae commentitiae liber, sive historiae mirabiles, Guilielmus Xyladrus, Joannes Meursius, Ludovicus Henricus Teucherus (ed.), Lipsiae in bibliopolio gleditschiano, 1792.
- De pronomine liber, Immanuel Bekker (ed.), Berolini, in libraria scholae realis, 1813.
- De constructione orationis libri quatuor, Immanuel Bekker (ed.), Berolini impensis Ge. Reimeri, 1817.