Antoninus Liberalis  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Antoninus Liberalis was an Ancient Greek grammarian who probably flourished between AD 100 and 300.

His only surviving work is the Metamorphoses, (Metamorphoseon Synagoge Μεταμορφώσεων Συναγωγή, literally "Collection of Transformations"), a collection of forty-one very briefly summarised tales about mythical metamorphoses effected by offended deities, unique in that they are couched in prose, not verse. The literary genre of myths of transformations of men and women, heroes and nymphs, into stars (see Catasterismi), plants and animals, or springs, rocks and mountains, were widespread and popular in the classical world. This work has more polished parallels in the better-known Metamorphoses of Ovid and in the Metamorphoses of Lucius Apuleius. Like them, its sources, where they can be traced, are Hellenistic works, such as Nicander's Heteroeumena and Ornithogonia ascribed to Boios.

The work survives in a single manuscript, of the later ninth century, now in the Palatine Library in Heidelberg; it contains several works. John Stojkovič brought it to the Dominican convent at Basel about 1437; in 1553, Hieronymus Froeben gave it to Otto Henry, Elector Palatine who gave it to the Library. In 1623, with the rest of the Palatine Library, it was taken to Rome; in 1798, to Paris, as part of Napoleonic plunder under the terms of the Treaty of Tolentino; in 1816, it was restored to Heidelberg.

Guilielmus Xylander printed the text in 1598; since some leaves have since disappeared, his edition is also a necessary authority for the text.

Many of the transformations in this compilation are found nowhere else, and some may simply be inventions of Antoninus. The manner of the narrative is a laconic and conversational prose: "this completely inartistic text," as Sarah Myers called it, offers the briefest summaries of lost metamorphoses by more ambitious writers, such as Nicander and Boeus. Francis Celoria, the translator, regards the text as perfectly acceptable koine Greek, though with numerous hapax legomena and perhaps humorless; it has no grammatical particles.


  1. Ctesylla
  2. The Daughters of Meleager
  3. Hierax
  4. Cragaleus
  5. Aegypius
  6. Periphas
  7. Anthus
  8. Lamia or Sybaris
  9. The King's Daughters of Emathia
  10. Daughters of Minyas
  11. Aedon, the Nightingale
  12. Cycnus, the Swan
  13. Aspalis
  14. Munichus
  15. Meropis
  16. Oenoe
  17. Leucippus
  18. Eeropus
  19. The Thieves in the Idaean cave
  20. Clinis
  21. Polyphonte
  22. Cerambus
  23. Battus
  24. Ascalabus
  25. Metioche and Menippe
  26. Hylas
  27. Iphigeneia
  28. Typhon
  29. Galinthias
  30. Byblis
  31. The Messapians
  32. Dryope
  33. Alcmene
  34. Smyrna
  35. The Herdsmen, who refused Leto
  36. Pandareus
  37. The Dorians, who follow Diomedes
  38. The Wolf of Peleus
  39. Arceophon
  40. Britomartis
  41. The Fox of Procris


  • Celoria , Francis, ed. and trans. The Metamorphoses of Antoninus Liberalis: A Translation With Commentary, trans. (London and New York: Routledge) 1992. English with comparative notes. ISBN 0-415-06896-7. This, not offering the Greek text, is the first English translation of this work.
  • Irving, Forbes. Metamorphosis in Greek Myth
  • Papathomopoulos, Manolis. Antoninus Liberalis: Les Métamorphoses (Paris, Budé, 1968) First translation into French; extensive notes and indices, except on linguistic questions; probably at present the standard text.
  • Trzaskoma, Stephen M.. Antoninus Liberalis: three sections from Metamorphoses: Hierax; Aigypios; The Dorians
  • Encycyclopaedia Britannica 1911: "Antoninus Liberalis". .

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