AskDefine | Define colophon

Dictionary Definition

colophon n : a publisher's emblem printed in a book (usually on the title page)

User Contributed Dictionary



from Greek κολοφών (peak or finishing touch)


  1. In handwritten manuscripts (before the invention of printing), the note, usually at the end, left by the scribe who copied it, giving information on his exemplar, where and when the copy was made, and sometimes, his own name.
  2. A printer's or publisher's identifying inscription or logo appearing at the end of a book, or the same appearing on the spine or dust-jacket.
  3. On websites, the page identifying the details of the creation, such as owner and technology used.

Extensive Definition

Colophon (Greek ) was a city in the region of Lydia in antiquity dating from about the turn of the first millennium-BC. It was likely one the oldest of the twelve Ionian League cities, between Lebedos (120 stadia to the west) and Ephesus (to its south) and its ruins are in the eponymously named modern region of Ionia.
The city's name comes from the word κολοφών, 'summit', which is the origin of the bibliographic term 'colophon', in the metaphorical sense of a 'crowning touch', as it was sited along a ridgeline. The term "colophony" for rosin comes from the term colophonia resina, that is, resin from the pine trees of Colophon, which was highly valued for the strings of musical instruments.
The ruins of the city are at the Castro of Ghiaour-Keui, a minor village in the vilayet of Smyrna, kaza of Kuşadası.


In Greek antiquity two sons of Codrus, king of Athens, established a colony there. It was the birthplace of the philosopher Xenophanes and the poet Mimnermus. The cavalry of Colophon was renowned. In the third century-BC, it was destroyed by Lysimachus—a Macedonian officer, one of the successors (diadochus) of Alexander the Great, later a king (306 BCE) in Thrace and Asia Minor, during the same era when he nearly destroyed (and did depopulate by forced expulsion) the neighboring Ionian League city of Lebedos.
Notium served as the port, and in the neighbourhood was the village of Clarus, with its famous temple and oracle of Apollo Clarius, where Calchas vied with Mopsus in divinatory science.
In Roman times, after Lysimachus' conquest, Colophon failed to recover (unlike Lebedos) and lost its importance; in actual fact, the name was transferred to the site of the port village of Notium, and the latter name disappeared between the Peloponnesian War and the time of Cicero (late 400s BC to 1st century BC).
Additionally, the city, as a major location on the Ionic mainland, was cited as a possible home or birthplace for Homer. In his True History, Lucian lists it as a possible birthplace along with the island of Khios and the city of Smyrna, though Lucian's Homer claims to be from Babylon.

Ecclesiastical history

The "Notitiae Episcopatuum" mentions Colophon or Colophone, as late as the twelfth or thirteenth century, as a suffragan of Ephesus. Lequien (I, 723) gives the names of only four Bishops:
  • St. Sosthenes (I Cor., i, 1) and St. Tychicus (Tit., iii, 12) are merely legendary
  • Euthalius was present at the Council of Ephesus in 431
  • Alexander was alive in 451.


colophon in Catalan: Colofó
colophon in German: Kolophon
colophon in Spanish: Colofón (ciudad)
colophon in Esperanto: Kolofono
colophon in French: Colophon
colophon in Italian: Colofone
colophon in Latin: Colophon
colophon in Dutch: Colophon
colophon in Norwegian: Kolophon
colophon in Swedish: Colophon

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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