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date: 26 November 2022


, 4th–5th century CE


, 4th–5th century CE
  • T.J. Leary


Symphosius, the preferred anglophone spelling of the form “Symposius” transmitted by the manuscripts, is generally taken as the name of the author of a collection of a hundred verse riddles which survives in the Anthologia Latina. Each riddle comprises three hexameters and is preceded by a lemma, which gives the “answer.” The collection is introduced by a longer, prefatory poem which asserts that the riddles were composed ex tempore at a drink-fuelled dinner to celebrate the Saturnalia and apologises for their professed low quality. As is again suggested by the manuscript tradition, this collection was probably called the Aenigmata; and if, as seems quite possible, the author was influenced by the Griphus Ternarii Numeri of Ausonius, it is understandable that he might want to assert some independence by using in his own title a synonym for griphus.The author may really have been called Symphosius (the name is attested in CIL VIII 27333, an inscription from Thugga (mod.


  • Latin Literature

Updated in this version

Article expanded to include detailed discussion of Symphosius's work and literary style. Bibliography updated to incorporate new editions and recent scholarship.

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