The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek

New Clothes for an Old Emperor

In: Novum Testamentum
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  • 1 Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia


A critical assessment of The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek, in which this recent publication is compared to its predecessors and judged on its merits and defects.


A critical assessment of The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek, in which this recent publication is compared to its predecessors and judged on its merits and defects.

Franco Montanari, The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek, English Edition by Madeleine Goh and Chad Schroeder; under the auspices of the Center for Hellenic Studies, Harvard University; advisory editors Gregory Nagy and Leonard Muellner (Leiden: Brill, 2015) lx + 2431 pp. Hardback isbn: 978-90-04-19318-5.

1 Preamble

The publication of a new “major” lexicon of Ancient Greek is a significant event.1 The new Brill dictionary (“ge”) is of the same size and scope as the lexicon of Liddell and Scott, the current standard work. Moreover, the new lexicon has been published complete in one volume, unlike the other major lexicon project of our time, dge, still progressing through publication in parts.2 Though ge is based, it is true, on a previous lexicon, the completion of the project in just four years is a prodigious achievement. The co-ordination of the team that produced this result—there are at least 15 names mentioned in the preface—was a major undertaking in itself. Similarly, the Italian predecessor (“gi”) involved at least 60 collaborators under the leadership of Franco Montanari.3

The character and merits of the new lexicon are indicated in the preface to ge by the three leaders of the team that produced it.4 Though many statements are made and most are clear, some reading between the lines is required to understand the presuppositions of the editors and what this lexicon attempts to achieve. The editors naturally draw attention to the improvements (new evidence; new lemmata; corrections to gi; inclusion of proper names), but they also appear to recognise that ge is not, and could not possibly be, the equivalent of a completely revised lsj (cf. §8). They do claim that “this Greek-English project is presented as an enhancement of lexicography,” and that the dictionary “presents a critical approach to lexicography in and of itself,” statements that are difficult to interpret, if not meaningless. Two further assertions will be commented on in the next section.

It is of course impossible to assess the entire contents of a massive reference tool such as a lexicon: any review necessarily involves sampling. My samples and discussion will have in view three main themes or aspects: (a) the provenance of ge; (b) ge as compared with lsj; and (c) the current state of the lexicography of Ancient Greek. The samples are presented under various headings, but all will be found to illustrate these three topics.

2 Provenance of ge

Dependence on predecessors is a general phenomenon of lexicography. Rarely has a lexicon been created afresh, that is, on the basis of a new collection of data subjected to a new lexical analysis. Only if the compilers are prepared to spend up to a century can it be done. The Oxford English Dictionary was created in this way (70 years); so was the Oxford Latin Dictionary (50) and the recently completed Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources (100). lsj was not; neither was ge. Both descend from a line of predecessors, which in ge’s case include lsj itself. The provenance of ge may be summarised as follows:

  • ge 2015
  • < gi (1st ed. 1995; 2nd ed. 2004); 3rd ed. 2013
  • < Rocci (1st ed. 1939; 2nd ed. 1941); 3rd ed. 1943
  • < lsj 9th ed. in 10 parts, 1925-1940; + Bailly 1894
  • < ls 8th ed. 1897 …
  • < ls 1st ed. 1843
  • < Passow 4th ed. 1831
  • < Schneider-Passow (1st ed. 1819-23); 3rd ed. 1827
  • < Schneider (1st ed. 1797-98); 3rd ed. 1819

ge derives from gi, which was based on an Italian predecessor by Rocci,5 compiled on the basis of lsj, with occasional help from Bailly.6 So ge actually derives from lsj, via translation into Italian and back again into English. lsj’s own history goes back through a line of revisions to a German ancestor, the work of Passow; and Passow itself rests on earlier predecessors (of which enough).7 It cannot be said that any of these lexicons was a completely new work.

All this is acknowledged in Montanari’s preface to ge (and its predecessor, the Prefazione to gi), and in a further preface by Nagy, Muellner, and Goh.8 Despite this, the latter editors make a surprising admission:

When Brill asked the three of us in 2010 to undertake the editing of an English version of the Greek-English dictionary of Franco Montanari … we had not yet fully reckoned with the fact that the original “Liddell and Scott,” later transformed into “Liddell-Scott-Jones’ or “lsj” … cannot really be called an “original” Greek-English lexicon.

Furthermore, after summarising the history of lsj back to Schneider, they characterise the process as “cross-fertilization,” adding “we are convinced that such cross-fertilization is at the very core of lexicography.” Some “cross- fertilization” there may be, but this is hardly the term to describe what is in fact a chain of dependence. Still more surprising is this statement of the editors regarding their own lexicon:

[I]t is to be emphasized that the lexicon is not a translation of the Italian definitions in and of themselves.

Evidence to disprove this claim can be found on every page of the lexicon when set beside its predecessor gi.

Does any of this matter? It does, because not everything in the Liddell and Scott tradition is reliable. There is a strong possibility that at every stage older material has been simply taken on trust and never re-examined. Decisions about the lexical analysis, the definitions, and the selection of data were often made long ago and have not been questioned when they ought to have been. The revision process to which Liddell and Scott was subject guaranteed this result: for practical reasons most of the material was carried on unchanged in each edition and a thorough revision could not be undertaken. Supplementary material added piecemeal each time often did no more than create confusion. Most users of the great lexicon—and even compilers of new lexicons—are unaware of these problems, though there has been no lack of remark on them.9 A first example to illustrate the point:


ge: µεταδετέον [µετά, δέω] verb. adj. it is necessary to unbind Xen. Hip. 4.4.

gi: µεταδετέον [µ., δέω] vb. bisogna slegare Xen. Hip. 4.4.

Rocci3 (1943): µετα-δετέον, vrb. da δέω, si deve sciogliere, ἀπὸ τῆς φάτνης, dalla mangiatoia, Sen. Eq. 4, 4.

lsj Revised Suppl. (1996): µεταδετέον, for ‘one must untie’ read ‘one must change the tethering’ (from one place to another)’

lsj: µεταδετέον, one must untie, X.Eq. 4.4.

ls8 (1897): µεταδετέον, verb. Adj. one must untie, Xen. Eq. 4, 4.

ls1 (1843): µεταδετέον, verb. Adj., one must untie, Xen. Eq. 4, 4: from µεταδέω, δήσω, to tie differently; to untie.

Passow4 (1831): µεταδέω, δήσω, (δέω, Irr.) umbinden, d. i. anders od. anderswohin binden.

In this case a mistake has been carried on undetected all the way from the first edition of ls to ge. The meaning “untie” is simply wrong for µεταδέω: it appears to have arisen from a mistranslation of umbinden as unbinden. The correction in the Supplement was missed and the mistake sailed on.10 This is a trivial example—or maybe not, to those interested in ancient horse management—but it illustrates the phenomenon.11 The next case is more serious.


ge: κάµινος … oven or furnace, forge … || flue for heating a room … || alcove vt Num. 25.8.

gi: κάµινος … forno o fornace, forgia … || condotto per riscaldare una stanza … || alcova vt. Num. 25.8.

Rocci: κάµινος … forno; fornace; fucinaalcova, Set. Num. 25, 8.

lsj: κάµινος … oven, furnace, or kilnalcove, Lxx Nu. 25.8.

The meaning “alcove” for Num. 25:8 has descended to ge from lsj. It has no connexion with the known meanings of κάµινος or justification in the context of Num 25:8. What is the evidence for it? Investigation reveals that it is an alternative rendering offered in the margin of the Revised Version, that is, an English rendering of the Hebrew word translated by κάµινος at Num 25:8.12 The underlying Hebrew is not a certain guide to the meaning of the Greek word that translates it; a guess at the meaning of the Hebrew in an English translation is no guide at all. By what process this proposal came into lsj we do not know, but it has no right to be there.13 The evidence for the meaning of κάµινος is to be sought in Greek, in usage contemporary with the lxx, if available. It happens that we have good material in documents of the third century bc. These not only show κάµινος in its usual meaning “furnace, kiln, oven,” but also reveal that κάµινοι in Ptolemaic Egypt could be sizable structures used for other purposes, such as storage of wine and the keeping of animals.14 From this it becomes clear that a κάµινος could have provided just the right secluded space for the illicit activity described in Num 25:8.15

3 Structure of Verb Entries

Let us take a straightforward common verb for a view of the general structure of an entry in ge and a comparison of ge with lsj.


ge: κλαίω … impf. ἔκλαιον … || fut. κλαιήσω …; mid. κλαύσοµαι … 1 act. A to weep, lament Il. 1.362 … B to suffer ill-treatment, undergo a punsihment [sic]: κλάοις ἄν, εἰ ψαύσειας you will be punished, if you touch them Aeschl. Suppl. 952 … C to weep for, bewail, grieve over > with acc. Il. 20.210 Od. 1.363 … || to call by crying: κλάειν µάµµας καὶ τιτθάς to cry for mummies and nurses Arr. … 2 mid. A to weep, lament Il. 18.340 … B to suffer, undergo punishment or harm, usually fut. Aristoph. Ve. 1327 etc.; … C to weep for, bewail > with acc.… 3 pass. to be bewailed Aeschl. Ch. 687 … | impers. µάτην ἐµοὶ κεκλαύσεται … Aristoph. Nub. 1436.…

lsj: κλαίω … i. intr., cry, wail, lament, of any loud expression of pain or sorrow, … Od. 10.201 … 2. αὐτὸν κλαίοντα ἀφήσω I shall send him home crying, howling, i.e. well beaten, Il.2.263: freq. in Att., κλαύσεται he shall howl, i.e. he shall suffer for it, Ar. V.1327 … ii. trans., weep for, lament … Od.1.363 … :—Pass., to be mourned or lamented …: impers., µάτην ἐµοὶ κεκλαύσεται … Ar.Nu.1436. 2. cry for, of infants, µάµµας καὶ τιτθάς Arr. … iii. Med., bewail oneself, weep aloud, A.Th. 920 … 2. trans. bewail to oneself.… S.Tr….

The general layout in ge is very similar to lsj’s, with the usual tumble of glosses, divided by a numbering system that requires concentration. ge gains in clarity by using bold for the meanings; but its numbering system is harder to pick up and somewhat counter-intuitive. The letters A, B, etc. (enclosed in boxes) are subordinate to the numbers 1, 2, etc. (enclosed in black blobs). While the blobs catch the eye, the numbers in them are very small; the boxed letters are quite hard to spot. In addition, there are subdivisions introduced by double and single bars (||, |).16 The explanation of these given in the endpapers is clear with regard to marking tenses and moods in the “principal parts section” of the entry (as in “|| fut. κλαιήσω” above), but is much less clear about why some senses are introduced in this way: the unsatisfying explanation given is that they are “further subdivisions of the entries.” In the case of κλαίω above, it looks rather as if “|| to call by crying” ought to have been another numbered sense.

These are somewhat minor matters. More importantly, we see in κλαίω a feature carried through systematically in all verb entries, a division into active, middle, and passive voices (marked by numbers 1, 2, 3). This is a significant innovation, introduced by Montanari in gi. While it may be helpful to the beginner, and even to some advanced scholars, it may not be a wise one from the point of view of lexical analysis. It has the effect of changing the upper level of the analysis from semantic to morphological; that is, lexical meaning is subordinated to the active-middle-passive distinction. The result is that in verbs (though only verbs) the primary divisions into 1, 2, and 3 do not indicate different senses but different voices, and consequently the same meanings may appear, indeed must often appear, twice or even three times in the entry. So in κλαίω, the meanings in 1 act. A, B, C are the same as those in 2 mid. A, B, C (“weep,” “suffer,” “weep for”); and sense 3 pass. gives a meaning which is just the passive of 1C and 2C (“weep for”).

This innovation can also lead to trouble of a different kind in the many Greek verbs in which form and meaning do not necessarily match.17 Examples: (a) λαµβάνω is normally middle in form in the future (λήψοµαι), but has an “active” meaning; so ge has to present this as “1 act. (with fut. mid.).” (b) The usual aorist of βούλοµαι is passive in form but not in meaning; ge gives up the division by form for this verb and simply says, in the principal parts section, “aor. only pass. ἐβουλήθην or ἠβ-.” (c) The verb βιάζοµαι has the annoying characteristic of being usable in the present middle form in both an “active” and a passive sense; ge’s solution is “1 act.… 2 usu. mid.… 3 pass.”; but this means that 2 mixes form and meaning.

As for verbs that have suppletives with different voices, major difficulties are unavoidable. ge in some cases simply gives up the division by voice, as in ἔρχοµαι and its aorist ἦλθον, which are wrapped together; in others various compromises are required.18 In ἐσθίω, all these problems come home to roost. The entry is simply divided into “1 act.… 2 pass.” Under the first, the active ἔδω is mentioned, but we are not told that the usual future of ἐσθίω is actually the middle ἔδοµαι (in Class., but later φάγοµαι); the standard aorist ἔφαγον, formed from a different root, is also not mentioned: one has to know that there is a separate entry for ἔφαγον, where its relation to ἐσθίω is noted; and although coverage of later Greek is said to be a feature of this lexicon, nothing at all is said about τρώγω, which came in as the present to replace ἐσθίω (cf. below). One would not want to suggest that lsj has solved all these problems, but its presentation of the voices and suppletives is generally much clearer than ge’s, and its entry for ἐσθίω covers everything with great efficiency.

All in all, as regards layout and convenience for the user, there is not much to choose between ge and lsj. Both present us with a packed entry offering a range of possible meanings, arranged in sense-divisions that may convey little to most readers. The selection of examples is overloaded and mostly from Classical authors. We have become used to finding our way through this in lsj; we will have to do the same with ge. How are such entries actually used? I suspect that most readers simply pluck out from the offerings a gloss that seems to fit the passage they are reading; whether it is the right one is often a matter of chance (unless of course they can locate a citation of the passage).

Let us follow up τρώγω, just mentioned in relation to ἐσθίω, and see how it has fared:


ge: τρώγω … 1 act. to gnaw on, nibble at, of animals: τ. ἄγρωστιν to nibble on weeds Od. 6.90; … | of sick people … || to eat (raw), chew on, of pers., esp. vegetables and sweets … || later simpl. to eat (= ἐσθίω) … 2 pass. to be eaten: τρώγεται ἁπαλὰ ταῦτα καὶ αὖα the fresh and dry are eaten Hdt. 2.92.4; …

lsj: τρώγω … [i.] gnaw, nibble, munch, esp. of herbivorous animals, as mules, τ. ἄγρωστιν Od.6.90; of swine … of cattle … of human beings in disease … ii. of men, eat vegetables or fruit … of dessert, eat fruits, as figs, almonds, etc.… of small fish as hors-d’oeuvres … iii. later, simply eat, serving as pres. to ἔφαγον instead of ἐσθίω …

The basic idea of this verb is “gnaw, nibble,” as stated, an action typical of animals but readily extended to humans. But it is rather the kind of eating, not who is eating or what is being eaten, that characterises τρώγω and distinguishes it from ἐσθίω, as Chadwick pointed out.19 lsj’s division into i., applied to animals and ii., applied to humans (with leakage in “of human beings …” in i.) is not necessary and the two could have been collapsed into one lexical meaning. Later on, from about i ad, by the same process by which Lat. manducare (“chew”) developed into Fr. manger (“eat”), this verb came to mean simply “eat,” making it equivalent to ἐσθίω, as lsj correctly report.

In ge the distinction between animals and humans is kept, with the meaning stated more or less satisfactorily (though “to eat (raw)” is not a good idea); but the insertion of the later meaning “eat” into this section, with only || to introduce it, underplays its significance as a distinct development in meaning, which leads in the long run to the Modern Greek word for “eat.” Then when the active-passive distinction is imposed, it creates problems. It looks to the user as if the passive voice is only used with the (sub-) meaning “eat,” a meaning said to be “later” (in 1.), yet cited from Herodotus (in 2.). In fact this example is the passive of “gnaw, nibble, chew” not “eat”: Hdt. 2.92.4 τρώγεται δὲ καὶ ἁπαλὰ ταῦτα καὶ αὖα = “and these [edible kernels] are nibbled both fresh and dried.”20 In short, ge’s entry, though ultimately derived from lsj’s, has lost more than it has gained in the process of revision and translation.

4 Lexical Analysis

The core of the lexicographer’s task is to state the meanings of words, that is, to analyse the available data for each word into its “lexical meanings,” with suitable definitions. This is a very challenging exercise and good results are not guaranteed; they are usually worse when an entry has passed through many hands in its history. The samples in the previous section have already illustrated problems in ge (especially τρώγω), and others will be found in later sections (notably ὀψάριον, §5). Here I explore a typical noun frequently attested and with a range of meanings.


Just as in the verb κλαίω, both ge and lsj present crowded entries for βίος, with divisions into an array of senses without paragraphing. ge has five major divisions (A-E), and within these, nine further sub-groups marked by ||. lsj’s major sense-divisions run from i to viii, with subdivisions 1, 2, 3 in the first. Let us summarise and compare the main features of these two entries, with a look back at their predecessors.

lsj begin with a ham-fisted attempt at distinguishing βίος from ζωή: “life, i.e. not animal life (ζωή), but mode of life …, manner of living (mostly therefore of men, v. Ammon.…; but also of animals …”. This is difficult enough to grasp; a look at ζωή only makes it harder: there is nothing remotely like “animal life” to be seen there. The distinction is based on a statement in Ammonius, and was added in ls7 (1890).21 Offering a distinction is not a bad thing in itself, but relying on an ancient Atticist grammarian is ill-advised. Ammonius is doing what he does, that is, separating two apparent synonyms (in Classical Greek), by some simple and rigid distinction, in this case that βίος is used only of humans, ζωή of humans and beasts. A more reliable guide to the distinction may be found in Chantraine’s delg, which in a nutshell is: βίος = life as lived, ζωή = life itself.22 Differences in application or reference are incidental. This opening statement in lsj makes the whole section i.1 more difficult to follow. The rest of lsj’s entry, however, is more or less satisfactory and clear.

Before turning to ge, it will be useful to note the content of Rocci’s entry. Rocci does not mention or try to apply the human-animal distinction. His division into five meanings a)-e) is simple but good. (One can see clearly the influence of Bailly.) gi’s entry, however, shows enough differences from Rocci’s to indicate that extensive revision was undertaken for gi. Comparison with lsj shows that lsj was the main source, not a new analysis. Most of the senses in lsj have been taken over, mostly in the same places, sometimes rearranged. In gi and hence ge, the attempt to distinguish βίος and ζωή is abandoned (and Ammonius is not quoted); yet lsj has left its mark in the survival of the human-animal distinction, now set up as two separate senses, with lsj’s examples relocated: “A life, existence, of a human … B rar. life, of other beings.”23 Some other odd things occur and the use of numbered sense-divisions versus subdivision by || is erratic. In particular there is a slip-up at “D later a life, biography … || the world, mankind, humanity, people (the surroundings in which one lives),” which presents the latter as if it were a sub-sense of the former. lsj rightly separated these on an equal level, as “iii. the world we live in, ‘the world’ ” and “v. a life, biography.” Overall, then, the results of the revision in gi and ge are mixed, and it cannot be said that the entry is an advance on lsj.

A close look at the entries for βίος in ge and gi reveals something further: they are identical in content. The only changes are the translations from Italian into English and minor alterations in reference style (e.g., Luc. 51.25 > Luc. Pseudol. 25). It is a fair guess that the editors of ge were able to work from the electronic files of gi, making only minimum changes. There was no need to retype the Greek or the references; only the translations needed to be done, addenda inserted, if any, and some information relocated.24 The consequence of this process was of course that little or no revision to the structure of the entry in gi could be, or was made in ge.25

5 Documentary Evidence

The main purpose of lexicons is to supply meanings, but we also consult them for other information, especially attestation. Innumerable discussions in the scholarly literature offer statements like “first found in …,” “common in …”. On what are they based? On a lexicon usually, and usually lsj. Lexicons thus have an important role to play in this regard. Yet it cannot be said that the present state of play is satisfactory. In the lsj tradition the attestation or evidence for each word has accumulated unsystematically over centuries. It is primarily employed, as is right, to establish and illustrate the meanings, with the additional aim of supporting the reading of standard texts. But there is no guarantee that the picture given is a reliable guide to the spread and currency of the word. Until there is a systematic gathering of evidence, with some sort of statistical information, this situation will continue. We cannot expect ge to have solved this problem, but we would expect at least to see no loss of existing data, and the addition of new data where significant. Let us take as a test documentary evidence, i.e., inscriptions and papyri, of which it is said gi/ge “makes substantial use.”26


ge: εὐίλατος -ον [εὖ, ἱλάοµαι] kind, favorable, merciful with dat. vt Ps. 98.8 etc.

gi: εὐίλατος -ον [εὖ, ἱλάοµαι] benigno, propizio, misericordioso, con dat. vt. Ps. 98.8 ecc.

Rocci: εὐ-ίλατος, ον [ῑ, ἱλάοµαι] propizio; pietoso, I.; Set.

lsj: εὐίλατ-ος [ῑ], ον, (ἵληµι) very merciful, of deities, PCair.Zen. 34.19 (iii bc), iggdi … etc.; … Lxx Ps….; also … PPetr….; later written … gdiupz 109.6 (i bc).

The documentary evidence for this word, mainly in inscriptions, is extensive and important, showing as it does that the lxx was using a current term and how it was used.27 lsj had quite a good collection. What has happened to it in gi/ge? It has disappeared. Rocci at least had “I.” (= “Iscrizioni”) to alert the reader; gi let it go. Hence in ge it looks as if εὐίλατος is a word used only in the lxx.


ge: ἀποσκευή … A baggage … || household goods vt Gen. 14.12, al.… | all members of the house vt Exod. 10.24 | the whole people, aside from the adult males vt Exod. 12.37 | in the army attendants vt Iud. 7.2 || excrement, filth Strab. … B suppression, elimination Ios. a.i. 18.2.4(41).

lsj Revised Suppl. (1996): … add ‘2 soldier’s encumbrances, i.e. family, PBaden 48.9 (ii bc), upz 110.199 (ii bc); dependants, Lxx Ge. 46.5, al.’

ge’s analysis is very odd to begin with; but the main point is that no documentary evidence is mentioned, even though it is important for the history of the word and indispensible to determining the meaning in the lxx. lsj Supplement supplied some, enough to show the new meaning family, dependants that appears in Ptolemaic Greek.28 Not only ought some of this evidence to have been reported in ge but even a brief look at it would have greatly improved ge’s account of the lxx uses.29


ge: ὀψάριον -ου, τό [ὄψον] course of a meal, a little dish, esp. of fish Aristoph. fr. 45 Plat.1 102.2 Pherecr. 32 etc.; ἔχει πέντε ἄρτους κριθίνους καὶ δύο ὀψάρια he has five barley loaves and two fishes nt John 6.9.

lsj: ὀψ-άριον, τό, Dim. of ὄψον, Ar.Fr.45, Pl.Com.95, Pherecr.27, Philem.32, Test.Epict.6.11, PPetr. 3 p.327 (iii bc), PCair.Zen.440.3 (iii bc), etc.; … a jar of pickled fish, BGU1095.17 (i ad), cf. PRyl.229.21 (i ad), Ev.Jo.6.9, al., OGI484.12 (Pergam., ii ad).

lsj Revised Suppl. (1996): ὀψάριον, after ‘dim. of ὄψον’ insert ‘foodstuff, esp. fish’ and add … seg 26.382 (Athens)’.

Rocci: ὀψάριον, ου, τό, dim. di ὄψον, propr. piccolo companatico, ma, in Atene, spec. pesciolino; pesce, vari Com. in At. 385; P.; δύο ὀψάρια,Volg. duos pisces nt. Io. 6, 9.

As well as a complete lack of documentary evidence in ge, we find a very unsatisfactory statement of meaning. lsj had good data to work with (added in lsj9), but committed the sin of not telling us the meaning, instead relying on “Dim. of ὄψον” to do the job. This is worse than useless: the user is given the impression that ὀψάριον is a small ὄψον—whatever that is—and turns to ὄψον only to see a range of meanings, any of which could be relevant. lsj Supplement tried to remedy this but didn’t do it well: “foodstuff” covers all food; “esp. fish” vacillates. ge has made it worse.30 Rocci was good within his limits. What is needed, instead of guesses based on a preceding lexicon, is a fresh assessment of all the data and a clear statement of the meaning so far as it can be known.

These three examples barely touch on the amount of under-reporting of documentary evidence in ge. In regard to the papyri alone, the extent of it is dumbfounding given the claims made. Some are standard and frequent technical terms, such as ἔντευξις (“petition”). Here are 50 well-attested words in papyri that lack any reference to that evidence in ge:

ἀµάω, ἄµφοδον, ἀξίνη, ἀξιόχρεως, βῆµα, διαθήκη, διάπρασις, διαπράσσω, διαστέλλω, διάστηµα, διαστολή, διαστολικόν (no entry), διασῴζω, διαταγή, διάταγµα, διάταξις, διατάσσω, ἐγγύη, ἐγγυητής, ἔγγυος, ἐλαιών, ἔντευξις, ἐντυγχάνω, ἐξακολουθέω, ἐπικεφάλαιον, ζωή, ζῷον, ἡµίονος, κάµινος, κοινωνός, κόκκος, λογίζοµαι, µέρος, µεταβολή, µοναστήριον, ναύκληρος, νοµός, ὀφείληµα, παράδεισος, παραθήκη, πράκτωρ, πρόγραµµα, προσευχή, προστάσσω, πυρός, ῥόα, σιτοµέτρης, ὑποζύγιον, φερνή, χωρίον.

Of course this simply reflects the reality, that to try to graft onto a lexicon of Classical Greek adequate coverage of even a part of the vast body of later Greek is impossible without a giant effort.

6 nt and lxx

Coverage of the nt and lxx in ge is difficult to assess fully (and fairly). It is evident that references to these texts are incorporated frequently throughout gi/ge (as they were in Rocci’s Vocabolario).31 Moreover, much of the nt/lxx vocabulary is no different from that of other ancient texts, so most words and meanings are as it were automatically covered. Even so, ge comes nowhere near providing the in-depth treatment available in the specialist lexicons,32 and in some cases there are significant gaps. This is the natural outcome of a tradition in which the nt and lxx were treated as an adjunct to the lexicon of Classical Greek. The coverage was never really satisfactory in lsj or any of its predecessors, even though these texts received some notice from the first edition onwards. ge’s material has come into existence in a similar way and the results are similar.


The old word θυµός has a range of meanings rather difficult to analyse, but one, “anger,” begins to predominate in Classical Greek and continues into Modern Greek.33 In the lxx there are 300+ examples of this sense. A careful search in ge’s long and packed entry finds one citation: “2Kgs. 5.12,” under “D.… || extens.”.34 Why this one was chosen (in gi) is somewhat mystifying when so many others, e.g., from the Pentateuch and Psalms, were available. (The reference is not taken from Rocci or lsj.) The lxx also has a few examples of θυµός in the sense of “mental disposition, ‘temper’,” as Muraoka defines it, but there is no mention in ge. As for the nt, where “anger” is the predominant meaning too (16 or so examples), ge cites none at all.


Again, ge manages one example in the lxx (Job 36:12), under “2. pass. to be admonished, reproved, corrected,” rightly enough. But it gives none from the nt, where the word occurs eight times. The nt evidence would have been a useful—one might think indispensible—addition to sense 1. act. “advise, admonish” etc., where currently all the citations are Classical except two from Philo and Lucian.


This is a difficult word, found some 9,000 times in Greek literature to vi ad. It is commonest in philosophers and theologians (which is warning enough). The two nt examples present special challenges, especially Rom 12:1, which is the subject of ongoing debate:

… παραστῆσαι τὰ σώµατα ὑµῶν θυσίαν ζῶσαν ἁγίαν εὐάρεστον τῷ θεῷ, τὴν λογικὴν λατρείαν ὑµῶν.

… to present your bodies as a sacrifice living, holy, pleasing to God, your λογική service /(act of) worship.

lsj steered clear of this one. ge has plunged in and come up with “|| later spiritual Orig.… etc.; ἡ λ. λατρεία the spiritual cult nt Rom. 12.1” (gi “il culto spirituale”).35 The other example, 1 Pet 2:2 τὸ λογικὸν ἄδολον γάλα, escapes notice, perhaps fortunately.


“Endurance, patience” in the face of adversity, ὑποµονή, is an important Christian concept, with parallels in Jewish and “secular” thought. ge has improved on lsj by at least including one nt reference (Rom. 2:7), out of 30 or so. The lxx examples, however, do not rate a mention.36 More noteworthy, in the light of the statement already quoted (n. 31), is the absence of any subsequent evidence like that seen in Lampe, or that can be found by tlg searching (2000+ exx. to vi ad).

In contrast with the above examples, ge’s treatment of the lxx does sometimes show advances. An instance is seen in καθιζάνω, which has a transitive use (“cause to sit”) that lsj missed. gi/ge includes it, with Prov. 18:16 as the example (also found in Job 12:18).37 The attestation of the word given in ge, however, could have been fleshed out significantly.38

To conclude this section, I have taken a sample of 50 nt words from αὐτόπτης to ἄψυχος. In ge, 19 have a nt reference; 31 do not. Why the variation I cannot discern: it appears that the nt material in gi/ge was collected unsystematically. In the same sample the lxx is slightly more often referred to, that is, in those words occurring in the lxx (31 of the 50): 14 have a lxx reference; 17 do not. So the hit rate for both nt and lxx is less than half.

7 A Particle

Should we expect lexicons to help with particles? Whether we should or not, we certainly do. We hope to get a quick indication to help us out. Few of us are ready to face the ordeal of reading Denniston’s famous book or some other specialist study (inaccessible to us anyway). The lexicons do try to cover particles, usually in some depth. In ge µέν, for instance, is given a very extensive treatment filling three columns; the material in lsj is of similar length; Rocci was shorter but still thorough. We have no reason not to trust most of this. Rather than try to examine µέν, let us take a less frequent particle, καίτοι, to see (a) whether ge is an advance on lsj; and (b) how well both lexicons cover the data and usage of καίτοι.


ge: καίτοι or καί τοι adv. certainly, truly, indeed: κ. ἐµοί yes, for me also Il. 13.267 cf. Eur. Med. 344; καίτοι σοφοῦ παρὰ φωτὸς εἰρηµένον indeed said by a wise man Sim. 37.12 || advers. however, yet, nonetheless: κ. τί φηµι and yet what am I saying Aeschl. Pr. 101; καίτοι γε nevertheless Xen. Mem. 3.12.7 | concess. although, even if: καίτοι περ although Hdt. 8.53.

Rocci: καίτοι, certo; a dire il vero; veramente, κ. ἐµοί, certo, anche a me, Il.13, 267; v. 1, 426; Eu. Med. 344.—b) tuttavia; pure; per altro; nondimeno, Att.; κ. τί φηµι; ma che dico? Eschl. Pr. 101; καίτοι γε, Sen. Mem. 3, 12, 7.—c) quantunque; sebbene, Att.: κ. περ, quantunque, Er. 8, 53.

Bailly: καίτοι, adv. 1 et certes, et en vérite [sic], Il. 13,267; Isocr. Pan. 67, etc. || 2 quoi qu’il en soit, cependant, toutefois, Att.; … κ. τί φηµι; Eschl. Pr. 101; … || 3 quoique, devant un part.… renforcé par περ. καίτοι περ, Hdt. 8,53.

lsj: καί τοι, and indeed, and further, freq. in Hom. with one or more words between, Il. 1.426, al.; καὶ σύ τοι E.Med.344; καὶ τἆλλά τοι X.Cyr.7.3.10: once in Hom. as one word, Il.13.267. ii. after Hom. usu., and yet, to mark an objection introduced by the speaker himself, freq. in Rhetorical questions, καίτοι τί φηµι; A.Pr.101 …: without a question …: strengthd., καίτοι γ᾽ … etc.: mostly separated, καίτοι … γε … X.Mem.3.12.17, etc….; so καίτοι περ v.l. in Hdt. 8.53. iii. with a participle, much like καίπερ, Simon. 5.9 …

It will give us some perspective to start from outside the lexicons. Denniston’s analysis finds four main uses of καίτοι (adversative; continuative; logical; combined with other particles), with subgroups in some, a total of 14 sections. Each is illustrated, in Denniston’s usual fashion, by a wealth of examples, all from the Classical period except one. At a rough count he gives 250 examples.39 Blomqvist covers the same ground for his selection of Hellenistic authors (330-30 bc). He includes a table of frequency in his texts and some Classical authors. It shows that while there are fewer in later texts (70+), the numbers in Classical authors add up to hundreds; these include high numbers in prose writers such as Demosthenes (190+), Plato (120+), and Aristotle (200+).40

It is obvious that our lexicons offer an exceedingly limited selection of evidence for καίτοι. ge cites only six examples. Only two of these are from prose (Xen., Hdt.) and none are post-Classical. lsj has more, a total of 27 (with “etc.” sometimes), and they are slightly more representative, including more from prose (D., Pl.) and even a couple of late authors (Plb., Philo). But the coverage is still very inadequate in lsj, and in ge entirely unsatisfactory.

lsj appears to recognise three meanings or uses of καίτοι. The second and third are clearly described, but the first is rather strange and unclear: it seems as if and indeed, and further is frequent in Homer, but only if καί τοι is split by another word (except once), and that this use occurs only a couple of times later. The fit to the noted examples does not seem right either: for instance, the first, Il. 1.426 καὶ τότ᾽ ἔπειτά τοι εἶµι, (“and then after that I will go”), can hardly be an example of καί + τοι. Close scrutiny suggests the first meaning was never intended to be a separate sense back in Passow and ls1 where it originated, but was an ambient meaning to cover the word as a whole; treatment of Homer was simply the next item in Passow. Proof of this is that sense i. was originally and yet, yet in ls1 (< Passow doch, und doch, doch auch, dennoch). It was changed in the 5th edition (1861) to and indeed, and further, the meaning we have now, at the same time as a new sense ii. and yet was introduced. (lsj’s sense iii., the concessive use, was separated from the beginning.) These changes caused confusion in sense i. The match between these apparent three meanings in lsj and Denniston’s analysis is a worry too. Sense ii. matches D.’s (1) “adversative” use, and iii. matches (1.vii) the “concessive” use; but where are D.’s (2) “continuative” and (3) “logical” uses? Various other problems could be pointed out but need not be gone into here.

ge’s entry is no more than an attenuated remnant of its predecessors. The first sense or use (there are no numbers, only || and |) has been freshened up with input from Bailly via Rocci, but the illustrations doubtfully support it (one, Sim. 37.12, has migrated from sense 3).41 The second sense, again from Bailly via Rocci, is an inexact catch-all, and the translation of Xen. Mem. 3.12.7 (included in lsj only to illustrate καίτοι separated from γε) is simply wrong. The third is real but the example is a dubious v.l. (many others were available).42

This look into καίτοι has enabled us to see not just what is wrong with the current entries but how their history has controlled the outcomes. The major underlying problem is reliance on an existing lexicon entry as the basis for the next, however much “revised.” Unless the old entry is completely laid bare and all its data are reassessed, its problems will be passed on or made worse. Hence our conclusion that (a) ge’s entry for καίτοι is not an advance on lsj’s; and (b) the coverage of data and usage is inadequate in both lexicons, but much worse in ge than in lsj.

8 Conclusions

The foregoing samples may be a small selection but they are representative of widespread phenomena in the new lexicon. They justify an assessment as follows. (a) Is ge a “better” lexicon than lsj? No. (b) Is it a competitor to lsj? Yes; but only because it is a major lexicon aimed at covering the same territory. (c) Is it the equal of lsj? No. (d) Can it replace lsj? No. (e) Will it serve the purposes of the ordinary student beyond elementary level? Yes, up to a point. (f) Can it serve the purposes of scholars? Again, up to a point. (g) Does it apply an improved method of defining meaning? No. (h) Is it better at lexical analysis than lsj? No. (i) Does it offer generally better coverage of meanings and attestation than lsj? No. (j) Does it actually provide better coverage of post-Classical Greek, as it claims to do? No, very seldom. (k) Does it omit information that lsj offers? Yes, often. (l) Is its presentation easier to follow than lsj’s? To a slight extent only. (m) Is its numbering system easy to follow? No. (n) What does it offer that lsj does not? Limited additions to the attestation of words and some meanings. (o) Is it basically a translation of its predecessor gi? Yes. (p) Is gi basically a revision of a predecessor? Yes.

ge is a useful lexicon, but it is not the great advance that we long for. The shape of the lexicography of Ancient Greek has not been changed by ge, but remains where it was. ge simply supplies another lexicon of similar size and coverage to lsj, doing the job no better and often rather worse. The principal reason is that ge is a descendant of lsj itself, with some revisions, but with most of the faults as well as merits of lsj preserved. The major, far-reaching overhaul that lsj’s material needs has not been undertaken, either by the editors of ge or by anyone.

Montanari rightly describes the situation in his preface to ge:

The Liddell-Scott-Jones dictionary is used by scholars of antiquity as the reference dictionary for Greek, although the need for a profound revision of lsj itself or for a completely new dictionary of Ancient Greek has been put forward many times and is indeed increasingly felt, in order to take into account more organically the advances of knowledge achieved over the years.43

I read these words as a true statement of where we are, not a claim that gi/ge is itself the “profound revision” that is needed. Montanari wisely refrains from making such a claim. If after all he intended to imply it, or others take his words in that way, it needs to be stated that there is no justification for it.44

What, then, is to be done? Lexicons like ge are a legacy of the past. They deal primarily with Classical Greek, and contain both too much and too little. They retain old material and have difficulty adding new. They also preserve the mistakes of their predecessors and have difficulty removing them. The coverage of post-Classical Greek is out of control because there is too much material. Trying to graft small portions of it onto existing lexicons is unworkable. Lexicons like ge are now a holding operation. Rather than continue to produce new lexicons based on old ones, the next generation of Greek lexicographers must rethink how to gather and present their material. Gathering of data by electronic means is now the only option; and a reappraisal of the meanings is essential. The whole corpus of Ancient Greek is too vast to deal with at once, but a systematic approach could move us forward. If the corpus were divided into manageable segments, the data could be gradually combined into one major electronic resource. Printed lexicons would still be needed, but could be slimmer and more selective, and based on better data.


This review is a much-expanded version of my presentation in a panel on the new lexicon at the sbl Annual Meeting, San Antonio, 2016. My thanks to Michael Curran for reading it and offering helpful comments.


F.R. Adrados, et al., eds., Diccionario Griego-Español (7 vols. to date; Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 1980-2009).


F. Montanari, Vocabolario della Lingua Greca (Torino: Loescher Editore, 2013). For the figures mentioned, see ge, p. vii; gi, pp. i-ii.


G. Nagy, L. Muellner, M. Goh; see ge, p. vii.


L. Rocci, Vocabolario Greco Italiano (3rd ed.; Rome: Società Editrice Dante Alighieri, 1943). As I understand it, Rocci’s work was primarily intended as a manual for Italian students rather than a major lexicon to rival lsj.


A. Bailly, Dictionnaire Grec-Français (Paris: [Hachette?], 1894; rev. eds. 1950, 1963). See Rocci’s preface (1943) for acknowledgement of ls and mention of Bailly.


For details of editions see J.A.L. Lee, A History of New Testament Lexicography (New York: Peter Lang, 2003) 347-348; 355-356. Cf. dge vol. i, p. x.


ge, pp. v-vi; p. vii.


See, e.g., J. Chadwick, “The Case for Replacing Liddell and Scott,” bics 39 (1994) 1-11; Lexicographica Graeca: Contributions to the Lexicography of Ancient Greek (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996) esp. 6-9; J.A.L. Lee, “Releasing Liddell-Scott-Jones from its Past,” in C. Stray, ed., Classical Dictionaries (London: Duckworth, 2010) 119-138. The revision process is graphically illustrated by a sheet of the galley proofs of ls 6th ed.: see A.A. Imholtz, Jr., “Liddell and Scott: Precursors, Nineteenth-Century Editions, and the American Contributions,” in C. Stray, ed., Oxford Classics: Teaching and Learning 1800-2000 (London: Duckworth, 2007) 117-134, at 130.


H.G. Liddell, and R. Scott, Greek-English Lexicon: Revised Supplement, ed. P.G.W. Glare and A.A. Thompson (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996).


I owe this example to P. Glare, “Starting from the Wrong End,” in G. Cigman and D. Howlett, eds., Birthday Celebration for Naky Doniach (Yarnton, Oxford: Oxford Centre for Postgraduate Hebrew Studies, 1991), 35-41, at 38-39.


The Holy Bible: Revised Version (1885), Num 25:8: text pavilion, margin alcove (kjv tent; rsv inner room; nrsv tent). The Heb. word is קֻבָּה, a hapax of uncertain meaning; many suggestions have been made. Cf. G.B. Gray, Numbers (icc; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1912) 385: “alcove (rv. marg.) is derived from the corresponding word in Arabic.” Gray I suppose means that the meaning “alcove” was derived by connecting קֻבָּה with the Arabic cognate; but one suspects that the derivation of English alcove itself from Arabic (al-qubbah, via Fr., Sp.) might have played a part.


Presumably it came via A.H. McNeile or A. Llewellyn Davies, named in Stuart Jones’s 1925 preface to lsj (p. ix) as having “advised” him on the lxx. The dubious quality of lxx material in lsj is well known: see G.B. Caird, “Towards a Lexicon of the Septuagint. i, ii,” jts n.s. 19 (1968) 453-475; 20 (1969) 21-40; J.A.L. Lee, “A Note on lxx Material in the Supplement [1968] to Liddell and Scott,” Glotta 47 (1969) 234-242.


See G. Dorival, La Bible d’Alexandrie: Les Nombres (Paris: Cerf, 1994) 463-464; J.W. Wevers, Notes on the Greek Text of Numbers (scs 46; Atlanta, Ga.: Scholars Press, 1998) 424-425; T.V. Evans, ‘Numbers,’ in The T&T Clark Companion to the Septuagint, ed. J.K. Aitken (London, 2015) 58-67, at 60. But A New English Translation of the Septuagint, ed. A. Pietersma and B.G. Wright (New York/Oxford: oup, 2007) has fallen victim to the authority of lsj (“alcove”). κάµινος is found c. 40 times in the lxx meaning “furnace, kiln.”


Another example of the trap of relying on translations: lsj Revised Suppl., s.v. ἀνακαλέω inserts proscribe for App.BC 4.25. This comes from an egregious misreading of the Loeb translation. ge has swallowed it without checking. (I owe this example to Terry Roberts.)


There are further subdivisions using a solid arrow, dot, and diamond (not exemplified above): see the endpapers of ge for their explanation.


The extent of these variations (just for Classical Greek) can be appreciated from the lists in H.W. Smyth, Greek Grammar, rev. G.M. Messing (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ. Press, 1956) §§805-818.


In πίπτω, πεσοῦµαι is noted as the fut. form, but the mid. category does not appear. In ὁράω we find “1 act. and mid.” combined, then 2 pass. In ἐρωτάω we have only 1 act., and 2 pass. but no middle; the usual (Attic) aor. to ἐρωτάω, the middle ἠρόµην, is not mentioned (it is found under εἴροµαι). Similarly in πωλέω: no mention of the standard aor. ἀπεδόµην.


Chadwick, Lexicographica Graeca, 288; discussion of τρώγω, 287-290. Chadwick says the human/animal distinction was made in antiquity.


ge’s translation, “the fresh and dry are eaten,” is not accurate; nor does it appear to be an accurate translation of gi: “questi vengono mangiati freschi e secchi.” For ταῦτα = τρωκτά “edible kernels” see W.G. Waddell, Herodotus Book ii (London: Methuen, 1939) 205.


Ammonius 101 (Nickau): βίος µὲν ἐπὶ τῶν λογικῶν τάσσεται ζῴων, τουτέστιν ἀνθρώπων µόνων, ζωὴ δὲ καὶ ἐπὶ ἀνθρώπων καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν ἀλόγων ζῴων. lsj’s quotation from Plotinus 3.7.11 (iii ad) is not a lot of help.


P. Chantraine, Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque: Histoire des mots (Paris: Klincksieck, 1968-80) s.v. βίος: “Sens, non le fait de vivre, mais la manière de vivre … d’où « moyens de vivre, ressources »”; s.v. ζωή: “« propriété d’être vivant, vie » par opposition à « mort ».” There is a fair bit of overlap in actual usage.


A hare that was in lsj’s I.1 has managed to slip through the net and stay in ge’s A (see Demosth. 18.263).


In verbs, some morphological material is moved from the end of gi’s entry to the “principal parts” section after the headword in ge, leaving only “dialectal, poetic … forms” at the end.


For further samples of ge’s handling of lexical analysis, the reader might like to compare ἰσχυρός with Chadwick, Lexicographica Graeca, 165-170, and ἕξις with Lee, “Hebrews 5:14 and ἕξις: A History of Misunderstanding,” NovT 39 (1997) 151-176 (summary 165-166).


ge, p. vi; see also p. vii: “In addition to the updated language of our definitions, the strengths of this volume include the incorporation of new evidence, especially from epigraphical sources and papyri.”


See J.K. Aitken, No Stone Unturned: Greek Inscriptions and Septuagint Vocabulary (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2014) 98-102.


See further Lee, “Ἀποσκευή in the Septuagint,” jts n.s. 23 (1972) 430-437.


In Exod 10:24 “all members of the house” is inexact: “family, dependants” is more like it. In Exod 12:37 what ge says is nonsense: the text is οἱ ἄνδρες πλὴν τῆς ἀποσκευῆς, i.e., “the men apart from their dependants.” In Judith 7:2 it looks like “baggage train.”


ge’s “course of a meal, a little dish” translates piatto di pietanza, un po’ di pietanza in gi.


Cf. ge, vi: “Significant consideration is also given to later forms of Greek, in particular Greek of the imperial age … (Old and New Testament, Patristics, etc.), up to the vith century.”


W. Bauer, F.W. Danker, W.F. Arndt, and F.W. Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (“bdag”) (3rd ed.; Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press, 2000); T. Muraoka, A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint (Louvain: Peeters, 2009).


Chadwick, Lexicographica Graeca, 143, 149; full analysis of θυµός 143-150.


= 4 Rgns/Kgds 5:12. This happens to be in the “Kaige recension,” not exactly a good representative of lxx Greek.


Rocci did not include any nt example; but under λατρεία “2) culto; adorazione” he notes exx. in Plato and adds “Set.; nt.” In G.W.H. Lampe, ed., A Patristic Greek Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press, [1968]), λογικός fills two columns. Some renderings of Rom 12:1: kjv reasonable (< Tyndale < Vg. rationabile); rsv, nrsv spiritual; neb fn. for such is the worship which you, as rational creatures, should offer.


lsj had none either, but lsj Revised Suppl. makes some rather complicated lxx additions, including a new meaning hope (which may not be for the better).


I owe this example to Claude Cox. For his discussion of ge, focused especially on lxx Job, see his page at <>. Cox has noted an important failing of ge, the use of the lxx text of Rahlfs (1935), not the standard Göttingen edition where available.


tlg searching produces many more exx. (c. 60) than the 7 in ge, in a much greater range of authors. There is also an ex. in upz 1.78.20 (159 bc, record of a dream).


J.D. Denniston, The Greek Particles (2nd ed.; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1954) 555-564. At 561 he includes some totals for Isocrates (125) and Lysias (106).


J. Blomqvist, Greek Particles in Hellenistic Prose (Lund: cwk Gleerup, 1969) 35-45; table at 36. There are c. 50 in papyri; c.15 in inscrr. The tlg tally just to ii ad is 5,000+.


ge begins with Il. 13.267, but Denniston (Particles, 555) says “This compound is not found in Homer …”; in Il. 13.267 “καί goes closely with ἐµοί (‘Know that for me too’)”. In E.Med. 344 Denniston (541) takes τοι as attached to σύ (i.e., “you are their father, you know”).


oct (Hude) at Hdt. 8.53.1 prints καίπερ. On concessive καίτοι see Denniston, Particles, 559; Blomqvist, Particles, 39-43.


ge, p. v.


The second preface by Nagy, Muellner, and Goh (p. vii) apparently sees ge as the lexicon that incorporates “recent advances made in scholarship on the ancient Greek world.”

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