Philostephanus of Cyrene (Philostephanus Cyrenaeus[1]) (Ancient Greek: Φιλοστέφανος) was a Hellenistic writer from North Africa, who was a pupil of the poet Callimachus in Alexandria and doubtless worked there during the 3rd century BC.

His history of Cyprus, De Cypro, written during the reign of Ptolemy Philopator (222–206 BC), has been lost, but it was known to at least two Christian writers, Clement of Alexandria[2] and Arnobius.[3] It contained a narration of the story of the mythical Pygmalion, of Cyprus, who fashioned a cult image of the Greek goddess Aphrodite that came to life. Ovid depended on the account by Philostephanus for his dramatised and expanded version in Metamorphoses, through which the Pygmalion myth[4] was transmitted to the medieval and modern world.[5]

The remarks on Cyprus seem to have come from a larger work, On Islands. Scattered brief quotes of Philostephanus on islands refer also to Sicily,[6] Calauria off the coast of Troezen[7] and Stryme, off the Thracian coast.[8] Pliny's Natural History adduces Philostephanus as a source for the assertion that Jason was the first that went out to sea in a long vessel.[9]

Other works of Philostephanus cited in surviving passages from other authors were works Of the Cities of Asia, On Cyllene, Epirotica ("On Epirus"), On Marvellous Rivers[10] On Inventions, and various commentaries.

The fragments of Philostephanus, surviving in quotes from other authors, were published in Karl Wilhelm Ludwig Müller et al, Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum.

Another Philostephanus was a comic poet, of whom little is known.[11]


  1. ^ He is referred to once, mistakenly, by Aulus Gellius, as Polystephanus. (FHG); Aulus Gellius found an old manuscript of "Polystephanus" at Brundisium (Leofranc Holford-Strevens, Aulus Gellius: An Antonine Scholar and His Achievement (Oxford University Press) 2003:70.
  2. ^ Clement, Protrepticus, vi.22.
  3. ^ Arnobius, chs. 17, 32.
  4. ^ The name Galatea was not applied to his statue until the 18th century: see Galatea.
  5. ^ Constance Jordan, "Montaigne's Pygmalion: The Living Work of Art in 'De l'affection des pere aux enfans'", Sixteenth Century Journal. 9,4 (Winter 1978:5-12) p. 5 note 2.
  6. ^ Philostephanus, frs. 16, 17.
  7. ^ fr. 18.
  8. ^ fr. 19; Mogens Herman Hansen and Thomas Heine Nielsen, eds. An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis (Oxford University Press) 2004:880, no. 650
  9. ^ N.H., vii.57: Longa nave Jasonem primum navigasse, Philostephanus Auctor est
  10. ^ frs. 20-25. Deipnosophistae reports glancingly Philostephanus' remarks on fishes, which may belong here: "Clearchus says this also more plainly than Philostephanus the Cyrenaean, whom I have previously mentioned: 'There are some fish which, though they have no throats, can utter a sound.'" (On-line text).
  11. ^ Kassel, R., and C. Austin,Poetae Comici Graeci, (Berlín-New York) 1983-2000,


  • Karl Müller et al. Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum 1849, vol iii. pp 28–34
  • Roberto Capel Badino, "Filostefano di Cirene. Testimonianze e frammenti", LED Edizioni Universitarie, Milano, 2010, ISBN 978-88-7916-456-6