In literature, a term meaning “a collection of flowers,” originally applied to a collection of poems or passages from poems chosen from the works of various authors. Later the term was given to collections of contemporary poetry as well as to compilations of selected short prose material.
Most countries have their poetic anthologies. Asiatic literature is extremely rich in them. From Turkey to Persia and Arabia and on through India to China and Japan one finds many of these collections of the gems of national literature. The Chinese Shih-ching (Book of Odes), reputed to be the oldest anthology in the word.
The Greek Anthology is perhaps the best known and most important of all anthologies. There were no anthologies among ancient Romans, and it was not until 1573 that Joseph Justus Scaliger Published an imitation of the Greek Anthology. His anthology of Latin poetry was entitled Catalecta Veterum Poetarum. It was followed by many others.
(High School Encyclopedia, Golden Press, New York, 1961)