The Ancient Greek Book Epigram


Principal Investigator

Dr. Simon Zuenelli


Key Data

FWF Project Number: P 28702-G23

Term: 01.09.2016 – 31.08.2021

Funding: € 107.588,25





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.



  • S. Zuenelli, The Transformation of the Epic Genre in Late Antiquity, in: Ch. Reitz/S. Finkmann (edd.), Structures of Epic Poetry, Volume III: Continuity, Berlin/Boston 2019, 25–52. (38–48 on epic verse prefaces)
  • S. Zuenelli, Nonnus, a Classic in the Making: The Book Epigram on the Dionysiaca (AP 9.198), in: B. Verhelst (ed.), Nonnus of Panopolis in Context IV: Poetry at the Crossroads, Leuven: Peeters 2022, 23–41.
  • S. Zuenelli, Als das Epigramm mobil wurde … Die Geschenkepigramme im Kranz des Philipp, in: Th. Fögen/N. Mindt (edd.), Brief und Epigramm, Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter (forthcoming 2024).
  • S. Zuenelli, Epigram Reading Epigram: Antipater of Sidon “Coming Second” (Anth. Pal. 9.25), Classical Philology (accepted).
  • S. Zuenelli, The Book Epigrams in Meleager’s Garland (working title) (in preparation)
  • S. Zuenelli, Das antike griechische Buchepigramm, Habil. Innsbruck (in preparation)


Conference papers and guest lectures

Literary book epigrams

  • S. 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)
  • S. Zuenelli, Oppians Halieutika ein Leckerbissen? Das Buchepigramm AP 16,311 als literarhistorischer Kommentar (19.01.2019, 40. Metageitnia, Lausanne)
  • S. Zuenelli, Frontem nugis solvere disce meis. Martials saturnalische Buchepigramme (25.06.2019, Petronian Society Munich Section, Munich)
  • S. Zuenelli, Das Buchepigramm feiert Saturnalien. Wenn aus Buchaufschriften Späße werden … (02.07.2019, AKME, Salzburg)
  • S. Zuenelli, Τὸ τῆς βίβλου ἐπίγραμμα. Das epigrammatische Subgenre des Buchepigramms und seine literarhistorische Entwicklung (16.01.2010, Universität Göttingen, Seminar für Klassische Philologie)
  • S. 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.)
  • S. Zuenelli, Als das Epigramm mobil wurde … Die Geschenkepigramme im Kranz des Philipp (1. Jh. n.Chr.) (13.01.2021, Universität Freiburg, Seminar für Griechische und Lateinische Philologie [online])


Inscribed book epigrams

  • S. Zuenelli, Aching Fingers and Speaking Coronides in Greek Scribal Epigrams (20.03.2018, University of Toronto, Department of Classics)
  • S. Zuenelli, Visualising the Ancient Greek Book Epigram (25.06.2021, The Ancient Greek Book Epigram in Context, Innsbruck [online])
  • S. Zuenelli, The Ancient Legacy of the Byzantine Book Epigram (19.10.2021, Speaking From the Margins. DBBE Online Lectures, Ghent [online])


Lectures and seminars

  • S. Zuenelli, Seminar “Vertiefung Antike Literatur: Martial und das antike Epigramm” (spring term 2019) [with a unit dedicated to the reception of the book epigram genre in Martial’s Apophoreta]
  • S. Zuenelli, Lecture “The Ancient Greek Book Epigram” (13.–16.05.2019, Zagreb [ERASMUS+ Staff Mobility for Teaching])
  • S. Zuenelli, Lecture “Τὸ τῆς βίβλου ἐπίγραμμα. Das griechische Buchepigramm als Medium literarischer Reflexion” (04.11.2020, Interdisziplinäre ATRIUM-Ringvorlesung, Innsbruck [online])


Conference organisation

  • S. Zuenelli/I. Tautschnig, Workshop “The Ancient Greek Book Epigram in Context” (25.–26.06.2021, Innsbruck [online])
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