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

Lexicographic entries

(Antiatt. α 40)

A. Main sources

(1) Antiatt. α 40: ἀμεινόνως· Ἀριστοφάνης Θεσμοφοριαζούσαις.

ἀμεινόνως: Aristophanes in the Women at the Thesmophoria (fr. 353 = C.1).

B. Other erudite sources

(1) EM 82.50: ἀμεινόνως· βελτιόνως.

ἀμεινόνως: In a better way (βελτιόνως).

(2) Schol. rec. Ar. Ra. 977b: ἄμεινον] κρεῖττον (Chis) | ἀμεινόνως (Rs).

ἄμεινον: In a better way (κρεῖττον, ἀμεινόνως).

(3) Schol. rec. (Mosc.) Soph. OT 1489: ἄμεινον] ἀμεινόνως· κρειττόνως.

ἄμεινον: In a better way (ἀμεινόνως, κρειττόνως).

(4) Phryn. Ecl. 106: εἰ ποιητὴς εἶπεν ἀμεινότερον, χαιρέτω· οὐδὲ γὰρ καλλιώτερον οὐδὲ κρεισσότερον ῥητέον· συγκριτικὸν γὰρ συγκριτικοῦ οὐ γίνεται. λέγε οὖν ἄμεινον.

If a poet has used ἀμεινότερον, let us have nothing to do with it. For one must use neither καλλιώτερον nor κρεισσότερον, because the comparative of a comparative does not exist. Use therefore ἄμεινον.

C. Loci classici, other relevant texts

(1) Ar. fr. 353 = Antiatt. α 40 re. ἀμεινόνως (A.1).

(2) Mimn. fr. 14.9–11 West2:
οὐ γάρ τις κείνου δηίων ἔτ’ ἀμεινότερος φὼς
     ἔσκεν ἐποίχεσθαι φυλόπιδος κρατερῆς
ἔργον […]

For none of his enemies was better than him in approaching the task of strenuous war.

(3) Lib. Or. 59.11.2–4: οὔτε γὰρ ἐξ ἀμείνονος ῥίζης ἔχοι τις ἂν ἐπιδεῖξαι βασιλέων βλάστην προελθοῦσαν οὔτ’ ἀμεινόνως συμβαίνουσαν τῇ ῥίζῃ τὴν βλάστην.

One could not exhibit an offshoot issuing from a better root, nor an offshoot which resembles the root in a better way.

(4) Cyr.Al. De adoratione ΜPG 58.181.13–8: θέα δὲ ὅτι νοῦς μὲν ὁ ἀνδρεῖος καὶ φρόνημα τὸ νεανικὸν, κἂν εἰ μὴ τελείως ἀφικνοῖτο τυχὸν εἰς τὸ ἀρέσκον Θεῷ, κατορθοῦν ἠργμένος τὴν ἀρετὴν, ἀλλ’ οὖν ἕξεις παθῶν ποιεῖται κατὰ βραχὺ πρὸς τὸ ἀμεινόνως ἔχον.

See then how the virile mind and the vigorous spirit, when they begin to exercise virtue, even though they may not perfectly reach that which pleases God, still they recede from vice and in a short time progress towards a better state.

(5) Mich. In Aristotelis sophisticos elenchos commentarius 121.4–6: οἱ σοφιστικοὶ ἔλεγχοι, φησίν, ὡς ἐπὶ τὸ πολὺ γινόμενοι ἀπὸ τῶν λέξεων ποιοῦσι τὸν μετά τινος θεολογοῦντα ἀμεινόνως ἔχειν πρὸς τὸ ποσαχῶς ἕκαστον λέγεται […].

[Aristotle] says that sophistical refutations, which for the most part depend upon expression, place the person who investigates divine things in a better condition (for understanding) in how many ways each thing is said.

D. General commentary

The comparative adverb ἀμεινόνως is an irregular analogical formation based on the adverbial neuter comparative ἄμεινον, which is re-characterised with the adverbial suffix ‑ως. Other analogical adverbial comparatives of this kind include μειζόνως ‘greater’, the object of Antiatt. μ 13 (see entry μειζόνως), ἐχθροτέρως, the object of Antiatt. ε 21 (see entry ἐχθροτέρως, ἐπιτηδειοτέρως), ἀληθεστέρως, the object of Antiatt. α 39 (see entry ἀληθεστέρως), and βελτιόνως. These forms, where the adverb is morphologically re-characterised, are part of a larger phenomenon that tends to replace primary comparatives and superlatives with morphologically more transparent formations, as in χειρότερος for χείρων, and ὀλιζότερος for ὀλίζων, etc. (see Seiler 1950, 124–5).

The Antiatticist (A.1) is our only source that demonstrates ἀμεινόνως was used in 5th-century Attic. The entry is also analysed by Fiori (2022, 223–6). The reference to Aristophanes’ Women at the Thesmophoria (C.1) likely belongs to the second staging of the play (on which cf. Austin, Olson 2004, lxxvii–lxxxix). The Antiatticist perhaps picked this occurrence of ἀμεινόνως in order to trace the development of the analogical comparatives back to the classical age (see too Willi 2010, 476). We do not know whether, in Aristophanes, this was an element of colloquial languageColloquial language (for this interpretation, see Fiori 2022, 226). ἀμεινόνως later recurs once in Libanius (C.3) and five times in Cyril of Alexandria (see e.g. C.4). In Libanius, the adverb features in a metaphor referring to the emperors Constans and Constantius. It could be speculated that the Atticising 4th-century CE rhetor, possibly informed that ἀμεινόνως had an Attic pedigree, used it as a heightening element. However, the later, unique occurrences of the adverb in Cyril make this hypothesis unlikely: if anything, it would rather seem that ἀμεινόνως – like other analogical comparatives of this kind – was a colloquial variant that occasionally crept into literary texts.

The tendency to replace the athematic comparative ἀμείνων with analogical formations felt to be more regular also emerges in the creation of the thematic form ἀμεινότεροςἀμεινότερος, already attested in Mimnermus (C.2). Phrynichus (B.4), who perhaps had this line of Mimnermus in mind (though we do not know), condemns all these analogical formations, which were rare in classical literature but had started spreading in koine Greek (see entry ἀγαθώτερος).

E. Byzantine and Modern Greek commentary

ἄμεινον remains the preferred adverb in Byzantine Greek and ἀμεινόνως is only attested once in Michael of Ephesus (C.5, where ἀμεινόνως ἔχειν renders Aristotle’s ἄμεινον ἔχειν of SE 175a.7), once as a lemma in the EM (B.1 – it is unclear whether this entry goes back to that in the Antiatticist: see Valente 2015, 95) and twice as an interpretamentum in the scholia recentiora to Aristophanes and Sophocles (B.2, B.3). The last two occurrences are unlikely to constitute evidence that ἀμεινόνως was common in late Byzantine Greek. The primary comparative ἀμείνων fell out of use in the Medieval period and gave ground to the new formation ἀγαθώτερος, which had already been attested in the Septuagint and in Diodorus Siculus (on this form, see the criticism of Phrynichus in Ecl. 65: see ἀγαθώτερος). It is now the only surviving comparative in Modern Greek.

F. Commentary on individual texts and occurrences



Austin, C.; Olson, S. D. (2004). Aristophanes. Thesmophoriazusae. Edited with introduction and commentary. Oxford.

Fiori, S. (2022). Le citazioni di Aristofane nel lessico dell’Antiatticista. Göttingen.

Seiler, H. (1950). Die primären griechischen Steigerungsformen. Leipzig.

Valente, S. (2015). The Antiatticist. Introduction and Critical Edition. Berlin, Boston.

Willi, A. (2010). ‘The Language of Old Comedy’. Dobrov, G. W. (ed.), Brill’s Companion to the Study of Greek Comedy. Leiden, Boston, 471–510.


Olga Tribulato, 'ἀμεινόνως (Antiatt. α 40)', in Olga Tribulato (ed.), Digital Encyclopedia of Atticism. With the assistance of E. N. Merisio.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.30687/DEA/2021/01/011

This article deals with the analogical comparative adverb ἀμεινόνως, discussed in the Atticist lexicon Antiatt. α 40.