Parthenius of Nicaea (Greek: Παρθένιος ὁ Νικαεύς) or Myrlea (Greek: ὁ Μυρλεανός) in Bithynia was a Greek grammarian and poet. According to the Suda, he was the son of Heraclides and Eudora, or according to Hermippus of Berytus, his mother's name was Tetha. He was taken prisoner by Helvius Cinna in the Mithridatic Wars and carried to Rome in 72 BC. He subsequently visited Neapolis, where he taught Greek to Virgil, according to Macrobius. Parthenius is said to have lived until the accession of Tiberius in 14 AD.
He is sometimes called "the last of the Alexandrians".
His only surviving work, the Erotica Pathemata (Ἐρωτικὰ Παθήματα, Of the Sorrows of Love), was set out, the poet says in his preface, "in the shortest possible form" and dedicated to the poet Cornelius Gallus, as "a storehouse from which to draw material". Erotica Pathemata is a collection of thirty-six epitomes of love-stories, all of which have tragic or sentimental endings, taken from histories and historicised fictions as well as poetry.
As Parthenius generally quotes his authorities, these stories are valuable as affording information on the Alexandrian poets and grammarians.
The mythical or legendary characters whose stories are presented in Erotica Pathemata are as follows.
In Parthenius' own time, he was not famous for his prose but his poems. These are listed below:
Parthenius is one of the few ancient writers whose work survives in only one manuscript. The only surviving manuscript of Parthenius was called Palatinus Heidelbergensis graecus 398 (P), probably written in the mid-9th century AD. It contains a diverse mixture of geography, excerpts from Hesychius of Alexandria, paradoxography, epistolography and mythology.
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Περί ερωτικών παθημάτων