Apollonius Dyscolus and the ambiguity of ambiguity

Classical Quarterly 45 (02):441- (1995)
Abstract
Apollonius Dyscolus’ use of ambiguity in grammatical problem-solving has in recent years had the benefit of two scholarly studies. David Blank, in the course of his analysis of the Syntax as a whole , has described the broad functions which Apollonius assigns to ambiguity. Jean Lallot's 1988 paper, ‘Apollonius Dyscole et l'ambigüité linguistique: problemes et solutions’, is devoted exclusively to the treatment of linguistic ambiguity in Apollonius’ work. Yet it is to be feared that the flood of light thrown by these scholars on what had been an unregarded corner of ancient grammar has shown up rather more than Apollonius would have cared to admit, both about the nature, and about the prospects for success, of the enterprise on which he was engaged. At the same time, certain structural features of ancient grammar, at least of the ancient grammar which Apollonius himself constructed, have come into sharper focus: features clear enough with the benefit of hindsight, but glimpsed, it appears, all too dimly by Apollonius himslf. It is now worryingly clear not only that ambiguity was ambiguous for Apollonius, but also that the ambiguity of ambiguity represented a genuine threat to the coherence and value of his work. In this paper I set out to justify both these claims
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