Aelius Donatus

Aelius Donatus

Aelius Donatus (fl. mid 4th century) was a Roman grammarian and teacher of rhetoric. The only fact known regarding his life is that he was the tutor of St. Jerome.

He was the author of a number of professional works, of which several are still extant:

  • A partly incomplete commentary on the playwright Terence compiled from other commentaries, but probably not in its original form;
  • His Life of Virgil is thought to be based on a lost Vita by Suetonius, together with the preface and introduction of his commentary on Virgil's works. A greatly expanded version of Servius' commentary exists, however, which is supplemented with frequent and extensive extracts from what is thought to be Donatus' commentary on Virgil.
  • His Ars grammatica, especially the section on the eight parts of speech, though possessing little claim to originality, and evidently based on the same authorities which were used by the grammarians Charisius and Diomedes, attained such popularity as a schoolbook that, in the Middle Ages, he became the eponym for a rudimentary treatise of any sort, called a donet. When books came to be printed in the 15th century, editions of the little book were multiplied to an enormous extent. It is also the only purely textual work to be printed in blockbook form (cut like a woodcut, not using movable type). It is in the form of an Ars Minor, which only treats of the parts of speech, and an Ars Major, which deals with grammar in general at greater length.[citation needed]

Donatus was a proponent of an early system of punctuation, consisting of dots placed in three successively higher positions to indicate successively longer pauses, roughly equivalent to the modern comma, colon, and full stop. This system remained current through the seventh century, when a more refined system due to Isidore of Seville gained prominence.[1]

Donatus invented the system whereby a play is made up of three separate parts: protasis, epitasis, and catastasis.

Aelius Donatus should not be confused with Tiberius Claudius Donatus, also the author of a commentary (Interpretationes) on the Aeneid, who lived about fifty years later.


  1. ^ M. B. Parkes, Pause and effect: punctuation in the west, ISBN 0520079418.

External links


  • A. Schönberger: Die Ars minor des Aelius Donatus: lateinischer Text und kommentierte deutsche Übersetzung einer antiken Elementargrammatik aus dem 4. Jahrhundert nach Christus. Valentia, Frankfurt am Main 2008, ISBN 978-3-936132-31-1.
  • A. Schönberger: Die Ars maior des Aelius Donatus: lateinischer Text und kommentierte deutsche Übersetzung einer antiken Lateingrammatik des 4. Jahrhunderts für den fortgeschrittenen Anfängeruntericht, Frankfurt am Main: Valentia, 2009, ISBN 978-3-936132-32-8.

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  • Aelius Donatus — (* um 320; † um 380) war ein römischer Grammatiker und Rhetoriklehrer. Über sein Leben ist lediglich bekannt, dass er der Lehrer des heiligen Hieronymus war. Er verfasste eine Reihe von Werken, von denen mehrere erhalten blieben: Ein teilweise… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • AELIUS Donatus — Grammaticus, D. Hieronymi praeceptor, Romae cum Victorino rhetore, ethnicus: Praeonius dictus, quod pater eius praeconium faceret, et Stylo, quod orationes nobilissimas scriberet. Volaterran. l. 13. c. 3. Anthropol. Sigonius l. 5. Imper. occident …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Aelius Donatus — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Donatus. Aelius Donatus, grammairien (grammaticus) latin du IVe siècle, né vers 320 et décédé vers 380. Sommaire 1 Biographie …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Aelius Donatus — noun Roman grammarian whose textbook on Latin grammar was used throughout the Middle Ages (fourth century) • Syn: ↑Donatus • Instance Hypernyms: ↑grammarian, ↑syntactician …   Useful english dictionary

  • Aelius Donat — Aelius Donatus Pour les articles homonymes, voir Donatus. Aelius Donatus, grammairien (grammaticus) latin du IVe siècle. Sommaire 1 Biographie …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Aelius — (weibliche Form Aelia) war das Nomen der gens Aelia, einer plebejischen Familie im Römischen Reich. Sie wird zuerst im 4. Jahrhundert v. Chr. erwähnt. Der Name kam bis zur Spätantike vor, besonders verbreitet dadurch, dass er ab dem 2.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Aelius — was the nomen of the ancient Roman gens Aelia. Among its members was the Roman Emperor Hadrian.* Publius Aelius Paetus, consul 337 BC * Gaius Aelius Paetus, consul 286 BC * Publius Aelius Q.f. Paetus, consul 201 BC * Sextus Aelius Q.f. Paetus… …   Wikipedia

  • Donatus — ist ein männlicher römischer Vorname. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Herkunft und Bedeutung 2 Namenstag 3 Bekannte Namensträger 3.1 Heilige …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • AELIUS Stilo — vide Aelius Donatus …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Donatus, Aelius — ▪ Roman grammarian flourished 4th century AD       famous grammarian and teacher of rhetoric at Rome, one of whose pupils was Eusebius Hieronymus (later St. Jerome).       Donatus wrote a large and a small school grammar, Ars maior and Ars minor …   Universalium