Grammatical doxography in Antiquity

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The origin and development of the parts-of-speech system was the subject of retrospective accounts written by ancient Greek and Latin authors interested in this evolutionary process of grammaticography. These accounts, containing a survey of doctrines and viewpoints concerning the number and nature of the parts of speech, can be labeled ‘doxographies’: They offer (short) stories of opinions held by gram­marians and philosophers concerning the partes orationis. In this pa­per, the corpus of ancient doxographical texts con­cerning the parts of speech system is presented; this is followed by an analysis of their status, their historiographical approach, and their contents. Specific attention is paid to the following points: (a) the time-per­spective adopted by the authors of these doxographies; (b) their interest in gram­matical and philosophical argumentation; (c) differences in the perception of the evolution of doctrines. Finally the issue is addressed of what purpose these texts were intended to serve, and of their ‘Sitz-im-Leben’. These ancient doxographical texts, which until now have been largely ignored or neglected by historians of an­cient linguistics, offer highly relevant information on the termi­nology and criteria used in Greco-Latin, and they testify to a fundamental histo­riographi­cal-metho­do­logical consciousness among ancient scholars.


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