Since "[i]n fifth-century Athens, language consciousness arose at the same time as philosophy and democracy" (Amsler 1989: 32), it is not surprising that philosophers were the earliest 'glossographers' - writers of glosses. Philosophers who compiled glossaries in the fifth century B.C. include the Sophist Protageras of Abdera and the materialist Democtus, and in the fourth century the Peripatetic Praxiphanes of Rhodes (Collison 1982: 26). We know only the authors and titles of these earliest glossaries, preserved through references in later collections (Zgusta/Georgacas 1990: 1696).
Traces of speculation on the origin of language survive from the writings of a number of early philosophers; however, the first extensive record of the different theories on the nature and origin of language is found in Cratylus, a dialogue of Plato (c.427-347 B.C.), in which three speakers present their views. Hermogenes takes the position that language is conventional and that all names have their origin in convention, Cratylus holds that language is natural and that every name is either a true name or not a name at all, and Socrates presents an intermediate view, that language is founded in nature but modified by convention (Amsler 1989: 32; Sandys 1921: I, 92). The controversy over the origin of language long continued. Aristotle, among others, rejected the notion that words existed naturally, and held the opinion that their meaning was purely conventional (Sandys 1921: I, 96).
Early philosophical theorizing about language and the origin and meaning of words gradually led to definition of strategies for discovering that meaning, of which etymology became the principal method. Etymology (from Latin etymologia < Greek etymon 'true' + logos 'speech', 'reason') "explain[s] language change and meaning through specific interventions which disrupt the surface features of language, reveal underlying connections, forms, or semantic relations, and reproduce the original linguistic forms" (Amsler 1989: 19). According to philosophical ideals, etymology "reveals the original word-thing relations which ground language in meaning" (id. 1989: 27).
Where etymology is the retrogressive search for the original word, derivation (from Latin derivatio < derivare < de- + rivus 'stream') is the progressive formation of words over time from a primary or base word. Derivation coincides with etymology to reveal the real meaning of words (Marinoni 1968: 131). Throughout Antiquity and the Middle Ages, both Greek and Latin lexicographers and encyclopaedists frequently used etymological and derivational approaches in compiling their works, either as the first principle of organization or as the second, following alphabetical order.
Lexicographical activity flourished in the fourth and third centuries B.C. with the work of Alexandrian philologists. Among the earliest glossographers of the Alexandrian school were the poet Philetas of Cos (c.340-284 B.C.) whose Miscellanea explains rare words in Homer, various dialects and technica, and Simias of Rhodes who compiled three books of glottai (Hunt 1991: I, 3). Zenodotus of Ephesus (c.325-c.234 B.C.), a pupil of Philetas and the first librarian of the vast library at Alexandria, also wrote a glossary of the difficult words in Homer (Sandys 1921: I, 119f.). Onomastica (from Greek onomastikos < onomazein 'to name', < onoma 'name') first appeared in the third century. The poet Callimachus of Cyrene (c.310-c.235 B.C.), collected the names of rivers, fish, winds and months (Holtz 1996: 6; Hunt 1991: I, 4) and Xenocritus and Philinus, both of Cos, compiled glossaries of medical terms (Collison 1982: 26f.).
Aristophanes of Byzantium (c.257-c.180 B.C.), a pupil of Zenodotus and also a director of the library at Alexandria, made the first known attempt to compile a comprehensive dictionary of the Greek language. His work, called Lexeis  (from lexis 'word' < legein 'to say'), "marked a new epoch by tracing every word to its original meaning" (Sandys 1921: I, 129). Only fragments of the Lexeis survive today. Glossographers of the second century B.C. who stemmed from Aristophanes include Diodorus, Artemidorus, Nicander of Colophon and the critic and grammarian Aristarchus of Samothrace (Hessels 1910: 124).
In ancient Greece, grammata referred to the 'letters of the alphabet', and grammatikos was the term applied to one who knew their nature and number, that is, 'one who could read' (Sandys 1921: I, 6). Thus Grammar, which was "at first regarded mainly as the art of reading and writing" (id. 1921: I, 90) occupied a subordinate position in early Greek philosophy. Gradually, however, it came to enjoy a privileged status in Stoic philosophy in the third and second centuries B.C. (Amsler 1989: 22; Holtz 1981: 8) and grammatikos came to define one who taught and wrote about language. Dionysius Thrax (born c.166 B.C.), a pupil of Aristarchus, wrote the earliest extant Greek grammar (apparently at Rhodes, under Stoic influence). His text was used by early and later Roman grammarians, and was cited by grammarians and lexicographers throughout the Middle Ages (Collison 1982: 27; Sandys 1921: I, 138f.). About this same period, Diogenes of Babylon wrote the first treatises on the sounds of the human voice (Holtz 1981: 9).
By the first century B.C. the study of language played a fundamental role in Alexandrian philosophy and rhetoric (Amsler 1989: 16), and "the sphere of grammar enlarged to include the full critical study of the poets [...] and the title kritikos, or critic, became synonymous with grammatikos" (Copeland 1991: 11). Glossaries surviving, at least partially, from the first century B.C. include the Homeric glosses of Apion, a Greek grammarian who worked at Rome, and the Homeric glosses of Apollonius Sophista, who cites Apion (Daly 1967: 31f.). The grammarian Didymus (c.65 B.C.-10 A.D.) was among the most prolific writers of the age. His lexicographical work includes large compilations on the language of comedy and on the language of tragedy, which are principal sources of a number of later collections (Sandys 1921: I, 141).
Indeed, most compilers of lexica, both literary and non-literary, drew on earlier compilations, although sources were not always explicitly named. Aristophanes included material from previous glossaries in the Lexeis, and in the first century A.D. the Alexandrian grammarian Pamphilos frequently cited Aristophanes in his glossary of rare and difficult words known as the Lexicon (Zgusta/Georgacas 1990: 1697). (Lexicon derives from Greek lexi- kos 'of words' < lexis 'word'). Only fragments exist today of Pamphilos's work, and of the summaries made of it by Vestinus in the first century and by Diogenianos in the second century (id. 1990: 1697).
Examples of specialist glossaries developed from earlier compilations of medical terms are the Collection of Technical Terms in Hippocrates written by the Greek grammarian, Erotian, in the first century A.D., and the Interpretation of Hippocratic Glosses compiled by the physician Galen of Pergamos (c.131-201 A.D.) (Daly 1967: 34; Sandys 1921: I, 296, 329).
In the first century A.D. a reaction set in among many Greek scholars and writers against the use, for literary purposes, of a common form of Greek, known as Koiné, which had gradually replaced the older varieties following the expansion of Greek territory under Alexander the Great. They urged a return to the pure Attic variety used by the Classical authors for writing (and speaking, in formal situations). A predictable result of this trend was the creation of Atticist lexica (described by Zgusta/Georgacas 1990: 1697 as "probably the first puristic dictionaries in the world"), which preserved the Attic Greek of the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. Examples of Atticist lexica are those compiled in the second century A.D. by Aelius Dionysius and the geographer Pausanius, as well as the Onomasticon of the Sophist and grammarian Julius Pollux of Naucratis (fl. 180) (Collison 1982: 34f.; Sandys 1921: I, 323). The Onomasticon covers, among other subjects, "the language of law and administration, music and dancing, medicine, the stage and numismatics" (Collison 1982: 34). Other important second-century collections are the thirty-seven books of words and phrases compiled by Phrynicus Arabius, and the lexicon of Valerius Harpocration, entitled Technical Terms of the Ten Orators, which is largely concerned with the language of Attic orators (Hessels 1910: 124; Sandys 1921: I, 324f.).
Hesychius of Alexandria compiled an extensive glossary, probably in the fifth century A.D., which subsumes the work of Diogenianos, with additions from the Homeric glosses of Apion and Apollonius (Collison 1982: 36; Sandys 1921: I, 378). Other fifth-century lexicographers are Stephanus of Byzantium, whose Ethnica (from Greek ethnikos 'national' < ethnos 'nation, people') a large geographical lexicon, exists today only in epitome, and the Alexandrian teacher and grammarian, Orion. The latter's etymological lexicon was one of the sources of later Byzantine etymological compilations (Sandys 1921: I, 378). It was one of the "many streams of Greek lexicography [which] flowed into the vast river of Byzantine lexicography, characterized by the great etymological lexica" (Marinoni 1968: 128).
Photius (c.825-891), patriarch of Constantinople from 857 to 863 and again from 878 to 886, compiled a Lexicon in which he used excerpts from Diogenianos and Harpocratian, as well as early Platonic and Homeric glossaries. It is preserved in a single manuscript known as codex Galeanus which dates from about 1200 A.D. and is now in the Library of Trinity College, Cambridge (Collison 1982: 44, n.26; Sandys 1921: I, 399). Through direction of the compilation of Etymologicum genuinum, which was started by an unknown author and finished by Photius, and of Etymologicum parvum which followed it, Photius became the founder of the Greek etymological lexica compiled in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries (Sandys 1921: I, 400, 414f.).
A work which goes beyond the glossary format is Suda, a combination of glossary and encyclopaedia, which probably dates from the late tenth or early eleventh century. In addition to translations of the headwords or lemmata, Suda (traditionally known as Suidas from the misreading of later manuscripts) provides examples of the way in which terms are used, and also includes a vast amount of encyclopaedic information (Collison 1982: 45; Sandys 1921: I, 407f.).
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