History Of Latin Lexicography -- By: Anonymous
BSac 8:32 (Oct 1851) p. 767
History Of Latin Lexicography
[The following historical statements in regard to the early history of Latin lexicography are from the pen of an eminent classical scholar in the vicinity of Boston, and, at our request, are given to the readers of this work. They will be read with interest in connection with the Lexicon of Dr. Andrews, and of others, which are appearing from time to time.— Ed.]
Whenever an important addition is made to a branch of learning, we naturally look back upon what has previously been done in that department in order to form a correct opinion and a complete and just estimate of the merits or demerits of the new production. The translation of Freund’s Latin Lexicon by Dr. Andrews is such a work. It has furnished us with an occasion of arranging and digesting the materials, previously collected, of a sketch or brief history of Latin lexicography from its earliest beginning to the present time. We intend to lay before our readers, at the present time, a small portion of this sketch relating to the lexicographical labors of the Romans themselves and the earliest attempts at Latin lexicography during the middle ages previous to the labors of Robert Stephanus.
It is in the nature of the case that lexicography belongs to the last stage of the literary development of a nation. The language must have fully unfolded itself, and a literature must have grown up, the meanings of words must have multiplied, some of them must have become obsolete, obscure or less intelligible, and only retained in the older portion of the literature, before the words of the language can become the subject of reflection, examination and research. Lexicography presupposes, not only the existence of words, but that they
BSac 8:32 (Oct 1851) p. 768
should have undergone changes. And not only is it necessary that the language should have fully unfolded itself and that a literature should have grown up, but the intellectual development of the nation must have far advanced before the single words of the language can become the subject of examination and research. It indicates considerable intellectual progress when a man makes himself the subject of his reflection; and still greater, when he subjects the very instrument, language, by which he carries on and communicates this mental operation, to the same process.
As the history of philology commences with the first traces of a scientific and systematic consideration of the existing monuments of language and art, so the history of lexicography, which is a branch of philology, begins with the first attempts at examining into the origin, etymology, meaning and use of single words. Such attempts we can trace as far back as the time of the Sophists, of Socrat...
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