Grammatical doxography in Antiquity
The (hi-)stories of the parts-of-speech system
The origin and development of the parts-of-speech system was the subject of retrospective accounts written by ancient Greek and Latin authors interested in this evolutionary process of grammaticography. These accounts, containing a survey of doctrines and viewpoints concerning the number and nature of the parts of speech, can be labeled ‘doxographies’: They offer (short) stories of opinions held by grammarians and philosophers concerning the partes orationis. In this paper, the corpus of ancient doxographical texts concerning the parts of speech system is presented; this is followed by an analysis of their status, their historiographical approach, and their contents. Specific attention is paid to the following points: (a) the time-perspective adopted by the authors of these doxographies; (b) their interest in grammatical and philosophical argumentation; (c) differences in the perception of the evolution of doctrines. Finally the issue is addressed of what purpose these texts were intended to serve, and of their ‘Sitz-im-Leben’. These ancient doxographical texts, which until now have been largely ignored or neglected by historians of ancient linguistics, offer highly relevant information on the terminology and criteria used in Greco-Latin, and they testify to a fundamental historiographical-methodological consciousness among ancient scholars.