PURA. Purism In Antiquity: Theories Of Language in Greek Atticist Lexica and their Legacy

Lexicographic entries

ἀνταναγιγνώσκω, ἀντιβάλλω
(Phryn. PS 47.16–7, Phryn. Ecl. 188)

A. Main sources

(1) Phryn. PS 47.16–7: ἀνταναγνῶναι· χρήσιμον. οὐκ ἀντιβάλλειν οὐδ’ ἀντεξετάσαι.

ἀντιβάλλειν cod. : ἀντιβαλεῖν Bekker (1814–1821 vol. 1, 27; vol. 3, 1069), de Borries | ἀντεξετάσαι cod. : ἀνεξετάσαι de Borries.

ἀνταναγνῶναι (‘to read and compare’): [It is] useful. [You should] not [use] ἀντιβάλλειν nor ἀντεξετάσαι (‘to compare’).

(2) Phryn. Ecl. 188: ἀντιβάλλειν· καὶ τοῦθ’ ἕτερον σημαίνει καὶ ἑτέρως ὑπὸ τῶν πολλῶν λέγεται. σημαίνει γὰρ τοιοῦτόν τι ὁποῖον τὸ ἀντιτιθέναι· λέγεται δὲ νῦν ἀντὶ τοῦ ἀνταναγνῶναι.

ἀντιβάλλειν: This too [properly] means one thing and is used by most people in another way. For it [properly] has a meaning similar to ἀντιτιθέναι (‘to compare’), but nowadays it is used in the meaning of ἀνταναγνῶναι (‘to read and compare’).

B. Other erudite sources

(1) Hsch. α 5318: ἀνταναγνῶναι· ἀντιβάλλειν (A) βιβλίον.

ἀνταναγνῶναι: To read and compare a book [with another one].

(2) Σb α 1528 (= Phot. α 2046, ex Σʹʹʹ): ἀνταναγνῶναι, οὐκ ἀντιβάλλειν. οὕτως Κρατῖνος Ὥραις.

ἀνταναγνῶναι Σb : ἀνταγνῶναι Phot. | Ὥραις Phot. cod. b : omitted in cod. Par. Coisl. 345 and Phot. cod. z.

[For ‘to read and compare’ you should use] ἀνταναγνῶναι, not ἀντιβάλλειν. So [does] Cratinus in Hōrai (fr. 289 = C.1).

(3) Et.Sym. α 858: ἀνταναγνῶναι· καὶ ἀντεξετάσαι βιβλίον· τὸ γὰρ ἀντιβάλλειν βάρβαρον φαίνεται.

[For ‘to read and compare’] a book [you should use] ἀνταναγνῶναι and ἀντεξετάσαι. For ἀντιβάλλειν looks like a barbarism.

(4) [Zonar.] 219.12: ἀνταναγνῶναι· ἀντιβαλεῖν.

ἀνταναγνῶναι: To read and compare.

C. Loci classici, other relevant texts

(1) Cratin. fr. 289 = Σb α 1528 re. ἀνταναγνῶναι (B.2).

(2) Philostr. VS 2.298.27–8: δοκοῦντι δὲ ἀποσχεδιάζειν ἀντανεγιγνώσκετο ἡ μελέτη.

The [text of his] oration was read out by way of comparison [by the public] to [Philagrus] who was pretending to extemporise.

(3) Str. 13.1.54: Τυραννίων τε ὁ γραμματικὸς διεχειρίσατο φιλαριστοτέλης ὤν, θεραπεύσας τὸν ἐπὶ τῆς βιβλιοθήκης, καὶ βιβλιοπῶλαί τινες γραφεῦσι φαύλοις χρώμενοι καὶ οὐκ ἀντιβάλλοντες, ὅπερ καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν ἄλλων συμβαίνει τῶν εἰς πρᾶσιν γραφομένων βιβλίων καὶ ἐνθάδε καὶ ἐν Ἀλεξανδρείᾳ.

Tyrannion the grammarian, an admirer of Aristotle, acquired it (i.e. the library of the bibliophile Apellikon) by paying court to the caretaker of the library, as also did certain booksellers who used bad copyists and would not collate [the texts], something that happens also with the other books that are copied to be sold, both here and in Alexandria. (Transl. Roller 2014, 579, adapted slightly).

(4) Str. 17.1.5: ἐγὼ γοῦν ἀπορούμενος ἀντιγράφων εἰς τὴν ἀντιβολὴν ἐκ θατέρου θάτερον ἀντέβαλον.

I, at any rate, being short of copies with which to compare [them], collated the one [work] with the other.

(5) Leo Choerosphactes Epistulae 6.10–8 Strano: τὸ δὲ ‘σοὶ ἐλάλησα’ συγκαταθετικῶς ἀνταναγνωστέον, ὡς εἰ ἔλεγες, ‘οἶδας, ὅτι κατεθέμην λαλῆσαί σοι’. […] ἀλλ’ εἴποι τις, ὅτι ἀμφίβολον ἀνάγνωσιν ποιεῖ. αὐτὸ δὲ τοῦτο κἀγὼ εἴποιμι πρὸς τὸν τοῦτο λέγοντα. ἀμφίβολον οὖν, ὡς πολλάκις ἀνταναγινωσκόμενον. εἰ δ’ ἀμφίβολον, νικάτω τὸ φιλάνθρωπον. φιλάνθρωπον δὲ τὸ τὴν αἰχμαλωσίαν ἀπολυθῆναι.

For the context and meaning of the text, see E. and, in more detail, F.2.

The [expression] ‘I told you’ should be interpreted in the opposite way, in an affirmative sense, as if you said: ‘You know that I have arranged to talk with you’. […] But someone could say that this makes the interpretation ambiguous. I too would tell this same thing to someone who would be saying this: [This is indeed] ambiguous, for it is often read in the opposite way. And if it is ambiguous, let magnanimity prevail. And it is magnanimous to release the prisoners.

(6) Leo Choerosphactes Epistulae 7.2–4 Strano: δεξάμενος τὰς ὑπ’ ἐμοῦ διττὰς ἀνταναγνώσεις, τὰς ἀποτρεπούσας τὴν ἅπαξ σου καὶ μετ’ ἀμφιβολίας ἀνάγνωσιν, δέχου καὶ τρίτην τῶν ἄλλων ἀνομοίαν.

Since you have received my two counter-readings, which overturned your single and ambiguous reading, [please] receive also a third [counter-reading], unlike the other ones.

(7) Michael Psellus Orationes hagiographicae 1b.3859: τούτων τοίνυν οὕτω προηγησαμένων, ἀνεγινώσκετο μὲν τότε τὰ Νεστορίου νοθογενῆ καὶ κίβδηλα δόγματα, ἀντανεγινώσκετο δὲ τὰ τοῦ θείου Κυρίλλου συγγράμματα, καὶ ὁ ἔλεγχος ἐκεῖθεν ἐδείκνυτο καὶ τὸ ἀμφίβολον ἀνεκαλύπτετο τοῦ δελεάσματος.

Therefore, given these premises, the illegitimate and misleading doctrines of Nestorius were read, and the writings of Saint Cyril were read and compared [with them] and thence the argument for the condemnation [of Nestorius] was proved [right] and the ambiguity of the bait was revealed.

D. General commentary

In surviving Atticist lexicography, only Phrynichus deals with the verb ἀνταναγιγνώσκω (‘to read and compare’, ‘to collate’), discussing its meaning and use in the PS (A.1) and the Eclogue (A.2). Phrynichus is concerned with the disambiguation of ἀνταναγιγνώσκω, understood as a technical verb applying to texts, from two other verbs with the prefix ἀντι- that meant ‘to compare’, ἀντιβάλλω and ἀντεξετάζω. He also discusses ἀντιτίθημι as a reference point for the meaning of ἀντιβάλλω (A.2).

ἀνταναγιγνώσκω is a rare double-prefixed form of γιγνώσκωγιγνώσκω (‘to recognise’), formed after ἀναγιγνώσκω (‘to read’). In ἀναγιγνώσκωἀναγιγνώσκω, the prefix ἀνα- expresses repetition; the verb, when applied to written characters, literally means ‘to recognise again’, and so ‘to read’ (LSJ s.v.). The preverb ἀντι‑ἀντι-, originally meaning ‘opposite’ in a spatial sense, has a wider sense of ‘contrast’, and is therefore understood as conveying a notion of comparison as well (LSJ s.v.). All the verbs considered in ancient discussions of ἀνταναγιγνώσκω are used in this sense of ‘to compare’ or ‘to contrast’. ἀντιβάλλω, primarily meaning ‘to throw against’, is used in Post-classical Greek with the meaning ‘to compare’ (e.g. Opp. Cyn. 1.68); as a technical verb for manuscripts, it means ‘to collate’ (C.3, C.4), whence also ἀντιβολήἀντιβολή (‘collation’) (C.4). ἀντεξετάζω (‘to compare’, ‘to measure against’) is used by Attic writers including Aeschines (2.8.9–11): ἅμα δὲ καὶ βούλομαι, ὦ Ἀθηναῖοι, προδιεξελθεῖν πρῶτον πρὸς ὑμᾶς ὡς ἔχουσιν οἱ νόμοι τῆς πόλεως, πάλιν δὲ μετὰ τοῦτο ἀντεξετάσαι τοὺς τρόπους τοὺς Τιμάρχου (‘at the same time, o Athenians, I also want first to explain to you the state of the city's laws and again, after this, to compare by their standard the behaviour of Trimarchus’). ἀντιτίθημι, primarily meaning ‘to set against’, is already attested with the meaning ‘to compare’ in Thucydides (2.85.2): οὐκ ἀντιτιθέντες τὴν Ἀθηναίων ἐκ πολλοῦ ἐμπειρίαν τῆς σφετέρας δι’ ὀλίγου μελέτης (‘without comparing the long-time experience of the Athenians with their own brief practice’).

ἀνταναγιγνώσκω is extremely rare in literary texts. Besides the usage of Cratinus (C.1) reported in the Synagoge (B.2; perhaps depending on Phrynichus, see below), its first surviving occurrence is in Philostratus (C.2), who uses the verb when speaking of a trap into which the sophist Philagrus fell. Since Philagrus had a reputation for recycling his speeches, he was put to the test and asked to improvise a speech on a topic he had already treated. His performance ended in a fiasco; pretending to improvise, he in fact recited an old speech whose text had already circulated in written form, and the public easily recognised his deception. Cave Wright (1922, 211) understands the meaning of ἀνταναγιγνώσκω in this passage as ‘to read aloud in response’ (giving ἀντι- an oppositive value) and proposes that the public ‘retaliated by reading the declamation aloud’, which would correspond to the subsequent disturbance of Philagrus’ performance. It is more likely, however, that ἀνταναγιγνώσκω here has the subtler meaning of ‘to read and compare’, suggesting that Philagrus recycled his previous declamation to the point that those audience members in possession of the original written version could simultaneously read it and compare it with his speech, as in a sort of collation (an interpretation also implied by the translation of Civiletti 2002, 249). ἀνταναγιγνώσκω would then have the same meaning as παραναγιγνώσκω, another double-prefixed form of γιγνώσκω, in which the prefix παρα- conveys a similar notion of comparison. In forensic oratory, παραναγιγνώσκω refers to the ‘reading and comparing’ of documents in court by the city’s secretaries (for its several occurrences in Aeschines and Demosthenes, see Battezzato 2003, 14–9). Most of its occurrences refer to reading aloud in public, as in the pseudo-Plutarchan Lives of the ten orators, in which the verb is used for the reading of the Lycurgan Staatsexemplar, the city's authorised text of ancient tragedies (841f): καὶ τὸν τῆς πόλεως γραμματέα παραναγινώσκειν τοῖς ὑποκρινομένοις· οὐκ ἐξεῖναι γὰρ <παρ’> αὐτὰς ὑποκρίνεσθαι (‘and the city’s secretary read [the official texts] to the actors, for acting that deviated from them was not allowed’; see Prauscello 2006, 69–74). In a philological context, however, the term refers more strictly to the collation of texts, as in Porphyry’s Life of Plotinus (19.27–9): καὶ πάνυ βουλοίμην ἂν ἐλθεῖν μοι παρὰ σοῦ τὰ μετ’ ἀκριβείας γεγραμμένα τοῦ παραναγνῶναι μόνον, εἶτα ἀποπέμψαι πάλιν ‘And I would very much like you to send me accurate copies, only in order to collate [them with my own copies]; then I would send [them] back’). ἀνταναγιγνώσκω is most likely a rare synonymSynonyms of παραναγιγνώσκω, similarly applying to both verbal and philological comparisons. The two verbs have different fortunes; whereas most occurrences of ἀνταναγιγνώσκω are found in the lexicographical tradition, παραναγιγνώσκω is attested continuously through the centuries and as such is not discussed by lexicographers (with the exception of Hsch. π 588, where παραναγνούς is the interpretamentum of παραμήνας, ‘who has gone mad’, possibly in connection with the late meaning of παραναγιγνώσκω as ‘to misread’; see LBG s.v. and E.).

Phrynichus advocates for the use of ἀνταναγιγνώσκω, which he identifies as the correct technical verb to signify ‘to collate’, and discourages the use of competing forms (A.1), especially ἀντιβάλλω, which evidently began to usurp the meaning of ἀνταναγιγνώσκω in the language of Phrynichus’ contemporaries (note the reference to ‘οἱ πολλοί’ and ‘νῦν’νῦν in B.2), as the occurrences in Strabo (C.3, C.4) confirm. Hesychius’ gloss (B.1, depending on Cyril’s lexicon) suggests that, while ἀνταναγιγνώσκω needed explanation, the interpretamentum ἀντιβάλλω represented the common usage. Later lexicographical sources focus on the pair ἀνταναγιγνώσκω/ἀντιβάλλω (B.2, B.4), with the exception of the Etymologicum Symeonis (B.3), where the contrasted pair is ἀντεξετάζω/ἀντιβάλλω. In accordance with Atticist doctrine, ἀντιβάλλω is rejected as a barbarismBarbarism, whereas ἀντεξετάζω is admitted though discouraged (as in A.1). The gloss which entered the Synagoge tradition (B.2) derives from Atticist material, as confirmed by both the expressed doctrine and the authoritative mention of Cratinus — a member of the Old Comedy triad, and thus favoured by Atticist lexicographers (C.1). It is tempting to identify Phrynichus (A.1) as the source of B.2, especially because of the crucial role that the Synagoge plays in the indirect tradition of the Praeparatio. The locus classicus could be absent from the preserved version of the PS owing to epitomisationEpitome, as often happens; further, Cratinus would be a perfect candidate as the source of this lemma since Phrynichus always treats him as a positive model, second only to Aristophanes (see Tribulato, forthcoming; Cratinus was already proposed by de Borries 1911, 47). Nevertheless, this reconstruction remains hypothetical.

E. Byzantine and Modern Greek commentary

After Philostratus (C.2), ἀνταναγιγνώσκω occurs only in lexicographical sources until the end of the 9th century, when it is revived by Leo Choerosphactes, who uses this verb more often and more productively than any other author and also provides evidence for two derivatives, both hapax legomenaHapax: the noun ἀντανάγνωσιςἀντανάγνωσις (‘counter-reading’, ‘alternative interpretation’, C.6) and the verbal adjective ἀνταναγνωστέονἀνταναγνωστέον (‘to be read oppositely’, C.5). Choerosphactes’ Chiliostichos Theologia displays his penchant for rare words attested in the erudite tradition, and especially those from Phrynichus’ PS (see Vassis 2002, 40–1, and the entries ἄπλυτος πώγων, ἀκροφύσιον, ἀπ’ ἀκροφυσίων λόγους ἐπιδεικνύναι, ψυχορροφεῖν), though the almost extinct ἀνταναγιγνώσκω and its derivatives are revived in Choerosphactes’ Epistles (see F.2 for more details). In these occurrences, the terms do not refer to textual collation, but instead mean ‘to read differently’, ‘to read oppositely’ (see LBG s.v.: ‘anders lesen’). Choerosphactes thus seems to centre the idea of opposition in ἀντι-, using the prefix in one of his ecdotic puns in Epistulae 4.17 Strano, where he plays on its alternative meanings, ‘equally’ (τοῦ ἴσου) and ‘oppositely’ (τοῦ ἐναντίου).

After Choerosphactes, ἀνταναγιγνώσκω is used by Psellus (C.7) with the expected meaning ‘to read and compare’. Here the verb signifies that Nestorius’ doctrines are read and accurately compared with Cyril’s writings in order to find dogmatic differences, which will lead to a charge of heresy against Nestorius. Afterwards, ἀνταναγιγνώσκω does not appear to have other attestations.

The classical ἀντιπαραβάλλωἀντιπαραβάλλω (‘to compare’; see e.g. Pl. Hp.Mi. 369c.6) has been revived as a learned form in Modern Greek with the meaning ‘to compare in order to find differences’ (LKN s.v.); applied to texts, it means ‘to collate’, whence the noun αντιπαραβολή (‘collation’). παρανάγνωση, a late derivative of παραναγιγνώσκω unattested before the 14th century, means ‘incorrect reading’: see LKN s.v.

F. Commentary on individual texts and occurrences

(1)    Phryn. PS 47.16–7 (A.1)

The text of the entry follows the text transmitted in cod. Par. Coisl. 345Par. Coisl. 345, with some differences from de Borries’ edition. While Bekker (1814–1821 vol. 1, 27; vol. 3, 1069) suggested the restoration of ἀντιβαλεῖν, ἀντιβάλλειν has been kept here since it mirrors the lemma of the Eclogue (A.2) and is the form of the verb used in most later sources (B.1, B.2, B.3; only B.4 has ἀντιβαλεῖν). The second proscribed verb meaning ‘to collate’ is more likely to be ἀντεξετάζω, as we read in cod. Par. Coisl. 345 (and as the equivalence between ἀνταναγιγνώσκω and ἀντεξετάζω in B.3 confirms), than de Borries' suggested ἀνεξετάζω. ἀνεξετάζω (‘to explore’, ‘to examine’) is a late (attested with certainty only from the 4th century CE onwards) and rare verb, which can mean ‘to investigate’ or ‘to analyse’ a written text; see e.g. its use by Joseph Rhakendytes (13th century) in his Synopsis of rhetoric (562.18–563.2 Walz): ἀναγινώσκων ποίημά τινος […] πρῶτον ἀνεξέταζε τὴν ἔννοιαν τοῦ χωρίου παντὸς (‘When you read the work of a certain author […] first, investigate the sense of the whole text’).

(2)    Leo Choerosphactes Epistulae 6.10–8, 7.2–4 Strano (C.5, C.6)

ἀνταναγιγνώσκω and its derivatives are used by Choerosphactes in his correspondence with Simeon the Great, king of the Bulgarians, as part of his diplomatic negotiations concerning the release of prisoners after the Byzantine defeat at the battle of Bulgarophygon in 896. In one letter (Epistulae 5.2 Strano), Symeon has made it clear that he does not plan to release the prisoners, writing ‘οὔ σοι ἐλάλησά τι. οὐκ ἐξαποστελῶ’ (‘I did not tell you anything. I will not release [them]’). Choerosphactes’ reply both appeals to his mercy and magnanimity and rebuts Symeon’s words with a pun on punctuation. He argues that one should punctuate after the negation οὔ, which should be included in the previous sentence; since the previous sentence already has a negation, Choerosphactes claims, it should thus be interpreted in an affirmative sense due to the double negative. In this instance, as in others (see D.), ἀνταναγιγνώσκω and its cognates do not refer to the comparison of texts but rather to a counter-reading, conveying an idea of opposition. Choerosphactes indeed sends Symeon several ‘counter-readings’, systematically overturning his statements, and argues that Symeon’s intentions should be understood in the opposite way (C.5: ἀνταναγνωστέον) as a display of fairness: οὔ σοι ἐλάλησα; τί οὐκ ἐξαποστελῶ; (‘Didn’t I tell you? Why wouldn’t I release [them]?’). Choerosphactes returns to the issue in a subsequent letter (Epistulae 7 Strano), in which he mentions the two counter-readings (C.6: ἀνταναγνώσεις) of Symeon’s letter and proposes a third one.


Battezzato, L. (2003). ‘I viaggi dei testi’. Battezzato, L. (ed.). Tradizione testuale e ricezione letteraria antica della tragedia greca. Amsterdam, 7–31.

Bekker, I. (1814–1821). Anecdota Graeca. 3 vols. Berlin.

Cave Wright, W. (1922). Philostratus and Eunapius. The Lives of the Sophists. Translated by W. Cave Wright. London, New York.

Civiletti, M. (2002). Filostrato. Vite dei Sofisti. Milan.

Prauscello, L. (2006). Singing Alexandria. Music between Practice and Textual Transmission. Leiden, Boston.

Roller, D. W. (2014). The Geography of Strabo. An English Translation with Introduction and Notes. Cambridge.

Strano, G. (2008). Leone Choirosphaktes. Corrispondenza. Introduzione, testo critico, traduzione e note di commento. Catania.

Tribulato, O. (forthcoming). ‘‘Aristophanes with His Chorus’. Citations and Uses of Comedy in the Lexica of Phrynichus Atticista’. Favi, F.; Mastellari, V. (eds.), Treasuries of Literature. Anthologies, Lexica, Scholia and the Indirect Tradition of Classical Texts in the Greek World. Berlin, Boston.

Vassis, I. (2002). Leon Magistros Choirosphaktes. Chilistichos theologia. Editio princeps. Einleitung, kritischer Text, Übersetzung, Kommentar, Indices. Berlin, New York.

Walz, C. (1834). Rhetores Graeci. Vol. 3. Stuttgart.


Giulia Gerbi, 'ἀνταναγιγνώσκω, ἀντιβάλλω (Phryn. PS 47.16–7, Phryn. Ecl. 188)', in Olga Tribulato (ed.), Digital Encyclopedia of Atticism. With the assistance of E. N. Merisio.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.30687/DEA/2974-8240/2023/02/001

This article provides a philological and linguistic commentary on the prefixed verbs ἀνταναγιγνώσκω and ἀντιβάλλω discussed in the Atticist lexica Phryn. PS 47.16–7, Phryn. Ecl. 188.

Prefixesἀνάἀντεξετάζωἀντίἀντιτίθημιοἱ πολλοίπαραναγιγνώσκω