Born circa 215 BCE, Aristarchus of Samothrace ascended to the position of head to the Library of Alexandria in 143, following in the footsteps of his lifelong teacher, Aristophanes of Byzantium. Besides surving his tasks in relation to the library's upkeep and management, he also became the originator of modern techniques of scholarship.

Aristarchus wrote over 800 works of commentary throughout his tenure at the library on subjects such as Alcaeus, Pindar, Hesiod, Archilochus, Aristophanes, and the tragedians. Beyond merely academic analysis, he also took his pen to the scroll over works of prose, such as those of Herodotus. His most famous work, and all that is left in modern times of his original work, was a critical edition of Homer. When you serve the most complete bastion of intellectual thought in the known world, you tend to be good at collating.

Besides the edition of Homer, there are a few other scraps of writing known from Aristarchus. He wrote copiously on Greek grammar, an extremely useful resource for analyzing the characteristics of ancient Greek at the time. He also catalogued critical signs of the works dominating the period. Oft quoted and revisted by later Greek writers, much of what is known about Aristarchus's writing comes second hand. There is very little available about the man himself, he wasn't taken to autobiography.


Howatson M. C. The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.

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