Greek Lexicography -- By: T. D. Woolsey

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 001:4 (Nov 1844)
Article: Greek Lexicography
Author: T. D. Woolsey


Greek Lexicography

Prof. T. D. Woolsey

Yale College.

Handwörterbuch der Griechischen Sprache, von Dr. W. Pape, Professor am Berlinischen Gymnasium zum Grauen Kloster. 3 Bde., 1842—3.

A Greek-English Lexicon, based on the German work of Francis Passow, by Henry George Liddell, M. A. student of Christ Church, and Robert Scott, M. A. sometime student of Christ Church, and late fellow of Balliol College. Oxford, at the University Press. 1843.

The plan, merits and defects of Passow’s Lexicon are so well known to Hellenists, that there is little need of dwelling upon them. It will be enough to say, that Passow began his work on a plan, which rendered it impossible for him to make it complete except by successive stages; that he started, as was right, from Homer, intending afterwards to go down to Herodotus, Pindar, and the Attic writers, and thus by degrees, to build up a structure of Lexicography, as time and experience should allow. His plan, even in the fourth edition, was carried out only so far as to embrace Herodotus in an imperfect manner; and hence for Attic and subsequent Greek, his Lexicon remained until his death an unsatisfactory work, although, even for those ages of the language, the best within reach. Meanwhile the ardent study of Greek literature had produced a number of contributions to Lexicography in the shape of special Lexicons, extensive indexes

and the like,—to say nothing of the more accurate knowledge of antiquities, involving the use of innumerable words, the superior revisions of texts, and the elucidation in various ways of very many obscure passages. Thus, at the death of Passow in 1883, a great mass of materials lay comparatively untouched; and it was far easier at that time to set about the same kind of work, than it was in 1819, when he began to publish as a Lexicographer.

Among the attempts made since Passow’s death to supply a want occasioned by his too early removal, the two Lexicons named at the head of this article, and the new edition of Passow by Host and Palm, take the highest place. Of the latter, which we believe is not yet complete, we shall not speak, and proceed directly to some observations on the two former.

In size, Pape’s work is about a quarter larger than the fourth edition of Passow, and seems to contain more than one quarter more matter. Liddell and Scott’s closely panted volume of nearly 1600 pages, in small quarto, has about as much printing in it as Passow’s two, but seems to have in it considerably more matter. This is owing in part to the smaller number of letters in English words than in corresponding German ones. For instance, Passow’s definition of You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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