The Ancient Greek Book Epigram


Project Head

Dr. Simon Zuenelli


Key Data

FWF Project Number: P 28702-G23

Funding: € 107.588,25

Term: 01.09.2016 – 31.08.2020



Inv. Sorb 2272e (end of Menander, Sicyonioe with coronis, titel, stichometrical notation, and book epigram)
© Université Paris-Sorbonne – Institut de Papyrologie


Ancient books were written on papyrus rolls, and later in codices. Sometimes metrical inscriptions were attached to those books in course of the editing process, a practice which arose as early as the 3rd century B.C. and was constantly carried out till Late Antiquity. Such an inscription could be, for example, a personal dedication, an ironic note by a scribe, or a laudatory reference to the author of the book. These epigrams form a self-consistent subgenre and can be summarized under the term “book epigram”. Unfortunately, only very few book epigrams have survived in their original context, i.e. on ancient books or their remains. However, several of these have been preserved in the Anthologia Palatina or can be detected in Byzantine manuscripts, in which, in some cases, the text of an ancient book was copied together with the original book epigram.

Up to now, these scattered book epigrams have neither been systematically collected nor closely studied. Therefore, the aim of the project is to close this research gap: In the course of the project, the extant ancient Greek book epigrams will be collected and examined in detail. The results will be used to describe the subgenre of the ancient book epigram comprehensively: features specific to the genre will be illustrated, the various types of book epigrams characterized, and the various functions, which a book epigram could fulfil, discussed.



  • Simon Zuenelli, Die Perioche der Dionysiaka als Mittel der Selbstinszenierung, Mnemosyne 69, 2016, 572 – 596. (esp. 592 – 594)
  • Simon Zuenelli, The Transformation of the Epic Genre in Late Antiquity, in: Christiane Reitz/Simone Finkmann (edd.), Structures of Epic Poetry, Volume III: Continuity, Berlin/Boston 2019, 25 – 52. (38 – 48 on epic verse prefaces)
  • Simon Zuenelli, Als das Epigramm mobil wurde … Die Geschenkepigramme im Kranz des Philipp, in: Thorsten Fögen/Nina Mindt (edd.), Brief und Epigramm: Bezüge und Wechselwirkungen zwischen zwei Textsorten in Antike und Mittelalter. (submitted)
  • Simon Zuenelli, Nonnus, a Classic in the Making: The Book Epigram on the Dionysiaca (AP 9.198), in: Berenice Verhelst (ed.), Nonnus of Panopolis in Context IV: Poetry at the Crossroads, Leuven. (submitted)
  • Simon Zuenelli, Oppians Halieutika und AP 16.311: Dichter-Exegese in Epigrammform. (in preparation)
  • Simon Zuenelli, Frontem nugis solvere disce meis. Martials saturnalische Buchepigramme. (in preparation)


Conference papers

  • Simon Zuenelli, Die Buchepigramme in Anth. Pal. 9, 184 – 214 (21.06.2014, Volturnia 2014, Salzburg)
  • Simon Zuenelli, Griechische Buchepigramme. Methodische Überlegungen zur Erstellung eines Untersuchungskorpus (23.01.2015, 36. Metageitnia, Tübingen)
  • Simon Zuenelli, Aching Fingers and Speaking Coronides in Greek Scribal Epigrams (20.03.2018, Toronto, Department of Classics
  • Simon Zuenelli, The Book Epigram of Nonnusʼ Dionysiaca (AP 9.198). An Inscription for an Author Portrait? (20.04.2018, Nonnus of Panopolis in Context IV: Poetry at the Crossroads, Ghent)
  • Simon Zuenelli, Oppians Halieutika ein Leckerbissen? Das Buchepigramm AP 16,311 als literarhistorischer Kommentar (19.01.2019, 40. Metageitnia, Lausanne)
  • Simon Zuenelli, Frontem nugis solvere disce meis. Martials saturnalische Buchepigramme (25.06.2019, Petronian Society Munich Section, München)
  • Simon Zuenelli, Das Buchepigramm feiert Saturnalien. Wenn aus Buchaufschriften Späße werden … (02.07.2019, AKME, Salzburg)
  • Simon Zuenelli, Τὸ τῆς βίβλου ἐπίγραμμα. Das epigrammatische Subgenre des Buchepigramms und seine literarhistorische Entwicklung (16.01.2010, Seminar für Klassische Philologie der Universität Göttingen)
  • Simon Zuenelli, Ἀλλά μοι ὡς θεὸς ἔσσο κατήκοος. Die Buchepigramme des Philipp-Kranzes als Mittel poetologischer Reflexion römischer Patronage (18.01.2020, 41. Metageitnia, Freiburg i.B.)
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