Liberālis. A mythological writer supposed to have lived in the age of the Antonines, and to have been a freedman of one of them. He wrote a work entitled A Collection of Metamorphoses (Μεταμορφωσέων Συναγωγή), in forty-one chapters. Edition by Westermann (Brunswick, 1839). See Oder, De Antonino Liberali (1886).
Antoninus Liberalis was an Ancient Greek grammarian who probably flourished between AD 100 and 300.
His only surviving work is the Metamorphoses, (Μεταμορφώσεων Συναγωγή, Metamorphoseon Synagoge, literally "Collection of Transformations"), a collection of forty-one very briefly summarised tales about mythical metamorphoses effected by offended deities, unique in that they are couched in prose, not verse. The literary genre of myths of transformations of men and women, heroes and nymphs, into stars (see Catasterismi), plants and animals, or springs, rocks and mountains, were widespread and popular in the classical world. This work has more polished parallels in the better-known Metamorphoses of Ovid and in the Metamorphoses of Lucius Apuleius. Like them, its sources, where they can be traced, are Hellenistic works, such as Nicander's Heteroeumena and Ornithogonia ascribed to Boios.
The work survives in a single manuscript, of the later ninth century, now in the Palatine Library in Heidelberg; it contains several works. John Stojkovič brought it to the Dominican convent at Basel about 1437; in 1553, Hieronymus Froeben gave it to Otto Henry, Elector Palatine who gave it to the Library. In 1623, with the rest of the Palatine Library, it was taken to Rome; in 1798, to Paris, as part of Napoleonic plunder under the terms of the Treaty of Tolentino; in 1816, it was restored to Heidelberg.
Guilielmus Xylander printed the text in 1598; since some leaves have since disappeared, his edition is also a necessary authority for the text.
Many of the transformations in this compilation are found nowhere else, and some may simply be inventions of Antoninus. The manner of the narrative is a laconic and conversational prose: "this completely inartistic text," as Sarah Myers called it, offers the briefest summaries of lost metamorphoses by more ambitious writers, such as Nicander and Boeus. Francis Celoria, the translator, regards the text as perfectly acceptable koine Greek, though with numerous hapax legomena and perhaps humorless; it has no grammatical particles.