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 – 31.08.2019



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).


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)
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