Latin Lexicography -- By: George M. Lane

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 016:61 (Jan 1859)
Article: Latin Lexicography
Author: George M. Lane


Latin Lexicography

Prof. George M. Lane

It is now more than twenty years since the first volume of Freund’s Lexicon of the Latin Language was published. This work supplied a want that had long been felt, and its circulation has accordingly been very great. A Lexicon drawn in part immediately from the ancient authors themselves, with a judicious criticism of the materials, employing in its definitions the supple adaptation of the German, in place of ponderous Latin periphrasis, full enough for the ordinary scholar, and yet compressed into four volumes of moderate size, could hardly fail to come into general use, and crowd out its predecessors. The heavy Thesauri of former days were too bulky and inconvenient. The four folio volumes of Gesner, laden with a learning that reminds one of the Dutch philologists, were constructed on an antiquated plan. The Lexicon of Forcellini — an immeasurable advance on what had preceded it — still held ground, and is at this very moment printing in an extended form at Padua. Scheller’s estimable work, which Ruhnken condescended to correct and superintend in a Leyden edition, held the first place in common use, with its modifications by Lünemann and Georges.

The favorable reception which the work of Freund has met with, is due quite as much to his theoretical exposition of the wants of Latin Lexicography, as to his practical execution. The Preface, in which he lays down his principles, is a masterly production. So too the lexical scholia on special words prefixed to the lexicon, are models of patient and thorough investigation. We may trace here the influence of Greek lexical studies: the plan of a Greek lexicon begun originally by Johann Gottlob Schneider and improved by Passow has undoubtedly contributed much in an indirect way to the adoption of just views in regard to the lexical stores of the sister language.

It was soon evident, however, that Freund’s theory was in advance of his practice. The minute criticism to which the ancient authors had been subjected, the great range of reading required, the necessary concentration and condensation of the vast material, made the task too great for the powers of one man. Some of the articles are very thorough and satisfactory, others are slurred over imperfectly or copied. Some authors are treated thoroughly, or were treated thoroughly for the times, others are cited, but nothing more; in the study of Lucretius, for example, not much satisfaction will be found in Freund. In place of independent researches, we find appended to every Lucretian word merely an extract from the metrical version of Johann von Knebel.

Again, many traditional errors indicate that Freund has not always gone back to his authorities,...

You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
Click here to subscribe
visitor : : uid: ()