A previously unpublished ancient Greek lexicon

A few months ago I wrote a post summarising the lexica that have reached us from antiquity.  Often ancient material is embedded in the Byzantine lexica, which were also included.

Via Peter Head at ETC I learn today that a previously unpublished Byzantine lexicon has made it into print, in an inexpensive edition: Eva Villani, Il lessico Ambrosiano inedito ΑΝΤΙΧΕΙΡ (C 222 inf., ff. 207r-208v).   Milano:  EDUCatt, 2014.  Pp. 248.  ISBN 9788867800865.  €15.00 (pb).

The work is reviewed by Eleanor Dickey – the go-to scholar on lexica – at BMCR, in a review which is itself incredibly useful.

This critical edition of a hitherto unpublished Byzantine (Greek-Greek) lexicon, originally the author’s doctoral dissertation at the University of Messina, consists of a brief introduction (pp. 7-50, of which nearly half is occupied by a list of abbreviations), the edition proper (pp. 51-210), and extensive indices (pp. 211-48). The edition is presented with a brief critical apparatus and a detailed apparatus of parallel passages….

No translation is provided; a reviewer can hardly complain about this, since editions of ancient scholarly lexica never do include translations, but I wonder if that custom is sensible in today’s world. Would the interesting information these lexica contain be more widely appreciated if editors provided translations?

Villani provides no commentary, so all the discoveries that could be made about these new entries are open to everyone to make. In order to illustrate the possibilities available and the type of new material found in this lexicon, I reproduce below a few of the new entries from this lexicon, using Villani’s text and my own translations and comments:

Κ 75: κρύφαλα αἱ πέτραι αἱ κεκρυμμέναι παρὰ τῆς ἁλός·
Κρύφαλα (are) rocks hidden by the sea.’ [As far as I can tell, this information is new to modern as well as ancient and Byzantine scholarship. LSJ’s entry on κρύφαλον reads only ‘κρύφαλον· σαβάκανον, Hsch.’, a definition that does not get us much further since σαβάκανον is unattested elsewhere; the entry is bracketed as corrupt in Latte’s edition of Hesychius (where it is entry κ 4259). The other dictionaries I consulted have no entry for κρύφαλον at all.]  …

In short, this work is good and useful and provides scholars with the rare opportunity to explore a previously unknown text containing a significant amount of ancient material; it would be lovely if there were more dissertations of this type.

Emphasis mine.

These items would indeed be infinitely better known to scholarship if translations were provided.  Full marks for raising the question!

It increasingly seems that Eleanor Dickey combines a rare knowledge of ancient scholarship with the ability to see what the world needs in this area, and the gumption to do something about it.  We need someone like her, working with these awful technical texts.  Everything she does makes the path far, far easier for everyone else.  An example is that she published this review in BMCR.  Because that is well-known and online, her notice has been read and noted in scholarly blogs; because she provided some sample translations, she has aroused interest in the world in general, such as myself.  This in turn builds support for scholarship, and the need to fund it.

I rarely take an interest in academic careers but … gentlemen of Oxford and Cambridge, you need to find this lady a chair.  She will do you a power of good in the fight for funding and notice in the next twenty years.


9 thoughts on “A previously unpublished ancient Greek lexicon

  1. That is very interesting, and I think a translation would be a bonus and would attract more sells. I have always thought a translation added to the already Greek to Latin and Hebrew to Latin lexicon found in the Complutensian Polyglot would be a good idea.

  2. Thank you Robert. Although I think the electronic text is probably just a journal article about the text, as published in Aevum. It wouldn’t contain the text itself. Interesting to see her other articles on the same subject also available!

  3. About κρύφαλον: you can see in TLG under κεκρύφαλον. Many different meanings there, found in known lexicons, based on the root of the word (κρυφ- from the verb κρύπτω: conceal, hide). One meaning is a scarf that hides a part of the head. Another, the second belly, hidden in the body of the ruminants. Likewise the rocks under the sand by the sea are called κρύφαλα.
    Σαβάκανον is probably from σάβανον, a linen cloth, towel that wraps something, a word connected with κρύφαλον.

  4. So kryph- is the crypto-version of krypt-. It’s something hidden about “hidden.”

    (Yeah, yeah, I know it’s just normal sound changes caused by neighboring sounds. Just let me amuse myself.)

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