The first anthology was compiled by Meleager
(in Syria, where the swine
came from) in the early first century BCE from the works of forty-six Greek
poets. It consisted of epigram
s, short poems on various subjects in a variety of styles. It is so called because in an introductory poem Meleager compared each poet's work to a different flower
in the garland
he was making: such as honeysuckle
, the lily
, the golden bough
, "few, but rose
s" from Sappho
, and ivy
clusters from Leonidas
This doesn't survive to this day, but it was the basis of later anthologies: by Philippus, Strato, Diogenianus under the Romans; by Agathias in the 500s under Byzantium; and the greatest compilation was that by Constantinus Cephalas around 900. It was ousted by a poorer reworking of his by Maximus Planudes around 1300, which was printed in the West in 1494 by a refugee from the fall of Constantinople.
The anthologies of Cephalas and Planudes hold some 3700 works between them, of variable quality, but preserving many of the best short Greek poetry.
The full edition of Cephalas, the famous Palatine Anthology, was not printed until 1776.