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Prominent on the pagan side was the Neoplatonist Porphyry ( 305).Besides his published attacks on Christianity, he wrote commentaries on Plato, Aristotle, Theophrastus, and Plotinus.Some of them were interested in etymology, phonetics, the exact meanings of words, correct diction, and the classification of the parts of speech. Aristotle wrote about linguistic, dramatic, and other problems in Homer, refuting such detractors of the poet as Zoilus, compiled lists of Olympic and Pythian victors, collected details about the Athenian tragic and comic festivals, and supplemented his with a collection of 158 studies of the constitutions of various Greek states.He also carried further the discussion of the constituent parts of a sentence and discussed the nature of synonyms, compounds, and rare words in early poetry.Callimachus is said to have written a book opposing the chief Peripatetic critic of the time, Praxiphanes, and is widely held to have criticized Peripatetic literary theory; but the scantiness of the evidence for this enjoins great caution.
Aristarchus was one of the many learned men who left Alexandria in consequence of the disastrous persecution of learning by Ptolemy VIII, from which that city’s standing as a great centre of learning never quite recovered.
All these philosophers were guided by Aristotle’s teleological concept of intellectual activity, according to which philosophy is the culminating element of civilization.
A 4th-century commentary on an Orphic poem, discovered in 1963 on a papyrus from a grave in Derveni, Macedonia, deserves mention as the earliest known commentary on a text; it is not a linguistic commentary but offers an allegorical interpretation that is doubtless very different from what the poet had intended.
(It seems that the great library survived a fire set in Alexandria in 47 , characterized by the allegorical interpretation, by faith in the accuracy of Homer’s geography, and by grammatical rigour typical of the Stoic school.
Under Stoic influence the Pergamenes tended to stress the element of anomaly in grammar, while the Alexandrians stressed the element of analogy; that is, the Alexandrians insisted on the natural, inherent orderliness of grammar, while the Pergamenes approached the subject as empiricists, being content to organize observations of actual usage into a body of knowledge.But the details of the alleged controversy over this matter are obscure and known largely from suspiciously late sources.