c. 350 | Syria

Falling Off the Donkey

An unconventional grammar lesson.

A grammarian lost his balance and fell off his donkey
and, it was said, lost the gift of grammar too.
From that day on he lived an ordinary life as a private man,
without understanding anything he once had taught.
But with Glykon it was the exact opposite:
he knew little of our spoken language
and even less of grammar, but by riding Libyan donkeys
and repeatedly falling off them, he became a grammarian.

From a poem. The author of two epigrams in the Greek Anthology—a vast compendium of short writings that date from as early as the seventh century bc to as late as the eleventh century—he is believed to be Apollinaris, a bishop of Laodicea, who countered the Arian heresy with his own doctrine, which too was deemed heretical by the Church and caused him to be excommunicated.