The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek

Franco Montanari

English Edition edited by
Madeleine Goh & Chad Schroeder

under the auspices of
the Center for Hellenic Studies, Harvard University

Advisory Editors
Gregory Nagy & Leonard Muellner

The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek is the English translation of Franco Montanari’s Vocabolario della Lingua Greca. With 140,000 entries this is the most important modern dictionary for Ancient Greek and an invaluable tool for students and advanced scholars alike.

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The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek is the English translation of Franco Montanari’s Vocabolario della Lingua Greca. With an established reputation as the most important modern dictionary for Ancient Greek, it brings together 140,000 headwords taken from the literature, papyri, inscriptions and other sources of the archaic period up to the 6th Century CE, and occasionally beyond.The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek is an invaluable companion for the study of Classics and Ancient Greek, for beginning students and advanced scholars alike.
Translated and edited under the auspices of The Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, DC, The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek is based on the completely revised 3rd Italian edition published in 2013 by Loescher Editore, Torino.


  • The principal parts of some 15,000 verbs are listed directly following the entry and its etymology. For each of these forms, the occurrence in the ancient texts has been certified. When found only once, the location is cited.
  • Nearly all entries include citations from the texts with careful mention of the source.
  • The Dictionary is especially rich in personal names re-checked against the sources for the 3rd Italian edition, and in scientific terms, which have been categorized according to discipline.
  • Each entry has a clear structure and typography making it easy to navigate.

Franco Montanari is Professor of Ancient Greek Literature at the University of Genoa (Italy), Director of the "Rivista di Filologia e di Istruzione Classica", of the “Centro Italiano dell'Année Philologique” and of the "Aristarchus" project online, and is a member of numerous international research centers and associations. Apart from the Vocabolario della Lingua Greca he has published many other scientific works on ancient scholarship and grammar, archaic Greek epic poets and other Greek poets of the Classical and Hellenistic periods, including Brill’s Companion to Hesiod (2009).

"For a number of years now, scholars at ease in Italian have benefitted enormously from the riches, layout, concision, and accuracy of Professor Montanari's Vocabolario della Lingua Greca, with its added advantage of the inclusion of names. Hence classicists in general will welcome the English version of this very valuable resource." Professor Richard Janko, University of Michigan
“Franco Montanari is a giant in our field, and his Dictionary is a major leap forward for us….” Professor Gregory Nagy, Harvard University

Preface by Franco Montanari

The history of dictionaries of Ancient Greek rests on a venerable and multifaceted tradition, which over the centuries has led dictionaries themselves to assume strikingly different forms. We have testimonies from as far back as the fifth century BC, telling of Athenian boys intent on understanding and translating Homer at school. At that time, translating the language in which the lines of poems such as the Iliad and the Odyssey were written – an unfamiliar language far-removed from the customary linguistic forms – basically meant setting up a correspondence between an ancient Homeric word that was difficult to understand and was no longer in common use, and a word current in the Greek of the translator’s day, whose form was thus immediately recognizable in the contemporary user’s language. This was particularly true for Homer, the sacred text that formed the quintessence of the paideia, which always constituted the basis of schooling and higher education, but it was also true, for instance, of the fundamental legal texts, such as the authoritative laws of Solon. The process was thus a translation from one kind of Greek to another kind of Greek, in other words a translation into a different form of the same language – an operation that linguists call “intralingual translation”. The difficult words used above all in poetry needed an explanation, an equivalent in a more easily understandable language.
Perhaps there was already some rudimental and highly limited form of “dictionary” even in those early times, or possibly the cultural background and experience of the school-masters was sufficient. What is certain is that a few centuries later, “dictionaries” of this kind did exist: in actual fact they were glossaries. In their most typical form (as can be observed in numerous papyrus fragments) they were arranged into two columns: a difficult word in need of explanation was listed in the left-hand column and the corresponding explanation in the contemporary Greek of educated people was shown in the right-hand column. These were therefore “monolingual” dictionaries, in the modern technical sense of the definition. At a later stage, in the Graeco-Roman world of the imperial age, with its socio-political and cultural context widely characterized by Greek-Latin bilingualism, the bilingual glossary made its appearance, in the form of an elementary Latin-Greek “dictionary” (destined to Greek speakers as an aid to understanding Latin texts, like Virgil) or Greek-Latin. These constituted the first embryonic examples of a bilingual dictionary of the Greek language.
The history of dictionaries of Ancient Greek in the modern age is associated with Greek-Latin bilingualism, originating from the Roman imperial age but transported into a Europe where Latin played the role of a lingua franca for communication among the cultured elites. The greatest monument of this historical period is the grandiose work of Henri Estienne (Henricus Stephanus), the Thesaurus Graecae Linguae published in Geneva in 1572, in five massive volumes. In this thesaurus, Latin was used to translate and provide brief comments on the Greek lemmata and examples: it thus fulfilled the function of an intelligible intermediary for those who wanted to learn Greek and translate from Greek. The sheer fact that this impressive work has by no means disappeared or been consigned to oblivion suffices to give an idea of its value and the historic impact of its composition. Naturally, the edition that is still on the shelves in our libraries today is no longer the 1572 version. Numerous alterations and enlargements culminated in the edition produced by the French publisher Ambroise Firmin Didot, which came out in nine volumes between 1831 and 1865 (and which has been reprinted frequently) with the scientific cooperation of some among the most valid specialists of the time, such as the brothers Wilhelm and Ludwig Dindorf, Johann Friedrich Dübner and others. That even as late as the nineteenth century it was felt appropriate to publish a revised and corrected version of this great dictionary is an eloquent testimony to the endurance and historical tenacity of the function of Latin as a lingua franca and to the persistence of Greek-Latin bilingualism in Europe.
After the Thesaurus of Stephanus, the genuine and substantial novelty in the field of scientific Greek lexicography was represented by the shift from Greek-Latin bilingualism to the bilingual Ancient Greek - Modern Language dictionary: that is to say, translation into a single language gave way to the concept of translating into a multiplicity of languages, and hence to a diversification of dictionaries. There were, fundamentally, two major works that marked the most important and decisive steps in this direction. The first was Franz Passow’s Handwörterbuch der griechischen Sprache, a Greek-German dictionary, originally a revision of J. G. Scheider’s lexicon, whose fourth edition, the first as an independent work, was published in Leipzig in 1831 in two volumes. Passow’s dictionary was then continued and renewed by numerous scholars up to the fifth edition in four volumes, which came out in Leipzig from 1841 to 1857. Reprinted several times, it is still in use today. Little more than a decade later came the publication of the first edition of the Greek–English dictionary by George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, Oxford 1843. What is interesting to note is the concentration of works in the central part of the XIX century: 1831–1865, last edition of Stephanus’ Thesaurus; 1831, first edition and 1841–1857, fifth edition of Passow’s dictionary; 1843, first edition of the Liddell-Scott lexicon, which within a century had reached the ninth edition (Oxford 1940), profoundly renewed under the editorship of Henry Stuart Jones and Roderick McKenzie. The LSJ lexicon was then further extended in 1968, but only by the addition of a supplement, published in a revised edition in 1996. For Christian Greek of the early centuries, LSJ was expanded by a companion volume, the Patristic Greek Lexicon by Geoffrey William Hugo Lampe, Oxford 1961. 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.
In Spain, the publication of the ambitious and massive Diccionario Griego-Español directed by Francisco Rodriguez Adrados began in 1980: seven issues have come out so far, going up to about half-way through the letter epsilon (in 2008 a second edition of the first issue also came out, containing roughly the first half of the letter alpha): it is extremely difficult to say when it will be finished. Finally, it is worth recalling the Dictionnaire Grec-Français by Anatole Bailly, first published in Paris in 1894. In French schools and universities today, the edition of this Dictionnaire that is in common use is the 26th edition, revised by Louis Séchan and Pierre Chantraine, which came out in 1963 and has been reprinted several times, although no longer brought out in a revised edition.
For Italian students, up to the 1990s the dictionary most frequently used in schools and universities was the Vocabolario Greco-Italiano by the Jesuit priest Lorenzo Rocci, published for the first time in Rome in 1939. After a second edition in 1941, the author brought out a third edition in 1943, containing major revisions introduced with the aid (declared in the Preface) of the ninth edition of the Liddell-Scott-Jones dictionary (which had appeared in 1940). This third edition was subsequently reprinted several times; eventually, a new edition came out in 2011. One important “new entrant” in the Italian context is GI - Vocabolario della Lingua Greca by Franco Montanari (in collaboration with Daniela Manetti and Ivan Garofalo), published for the first time in 1995, then in a second edition in 2004 and a third edition in 2013. The third Italian edition of GI formed the basis for this English version, published today by Brill: GE - The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek.
In Greece, to my knowledge the dictionaries used for study of Ancient Greek have so far been the following: the four volume-translation of the 8th edition (1897) of Liddell-Scott which came out at the beginning of the 20th century - unfortunately in an extreme katharevousa, which renders it practically useless for students today; the large D. Dimitrakos, effectively a dictionary of the Greek language from ancient to modern, completed in 1959; Stamatakos’ Lexikon tes archaias ellenikes glossas, originally published in 1949 and reprinted since then a couple of times, most recently in 2006; finally, an Epitomè of Liddell-Scott published in 2007, which however mainly covers only the archaic and classical authors. Thus the need for a completely new dictionary has been clearly perceived by students and scholars alike. A response to this widely felt demand has come from the publication in Athens, in 2013, of a version of GI in Modern Greek: Synchrono Lexiko tes archaias ellenikes glossas, edited by Antonios Rengakos. Considered within the framework of Greece, in a sense this development embodies a revival of the idea of translation from Greek into Greek, from an ancient to a modern form of the Greek language, though certainly bridging a distance that is now far more profound than in the distant past. Thus one may wonder whether Ancient Greek – Modern Greek dictionaries belong to the typology of bilingual dictionaries or whether they should instead be viewed as monolingual dictionaries: however, this may be a moot question, or it may have a political-cultural significance that calls for further reflection.
As mentioned earlier, this GE - The Brill Dictionary of Ancient Greek is based on the third Italian edition of the above cited Italian GI - Vocabolario della lingua greca. First of all it is important to underline that attention in GI / GE is not restricted to language material dating from the archaic, Classical and Hellenistic eras. Significant consideration is also given to later forms of Greek, in particular Greek of the imperial age and of the first centuries of Greek Judaic-Christian literature (Old and New Testament, Patristics, etc.), up to the VIth century and with sporadic later examples (this is a period for which the great LSJ is notoriously weak, especially after the IInd century AD). Furthermore, GI / GE makes substantial use of papyri and inscriptions, and includes a wealth of proper names, which have been systematically checked and revised for the new edition.
The third edition has been substantially revised and expanded. The numerous observations and suggestions put forward by scholars have all been scrupulously examined and have led to a number of carefully assessed amendments and modifications. A general revision has resulted in no small number of corrections, improvements and additions, among which roughly 750 new lemmata in comparison to the previous edition. The most significant and important systematic interventions, which have resulted in the identification and elimination of mumerous imperfections, also deserve to be mentioned. A global revision of the initial list of Authors and Works has allowed the introduction of a number of corrections and additions, including a sizeable number of updated bibliographical entries: accordingly, this repertory is increasingly becoming an important tool in its own right. With regard to the examples and citations, a systematic revision has been undertaken on the materials pertaining to the fragments of Euripides, the fragmentary comic dramatists (including Menander) and the fragmentary historians, as well as on the citations of Posidippus, Plutarch’s Moralia, Lucian and some Fathers of the Church (such as Gregory of Nyssa). All the lemmata concerning the so-called “prepositional adverbs” have been re-examined and reorganised according to a coherent structure. All these improvements in the third Italian edition have been included in this English edition, in which it has also been possible to update the entries with corrections and additions not yet available in the third Italian edition.
Dictionaries of ancient languages, founded as they are on the written testimony of the literature and other documents, certainly undergo a slower process of aging than dictionaries founded on the living usage of modern languages. Dictionaries of modern languages reflect the current spoken forms, which are in constant and rapid evolution, but even dictionaries of ancient languages require updating, revision and additions. In our case the need for a new dictionary, profoundly renewed in comparison to its predecessors, is based essentially on three factors: the language to be interpreted and translated, namely Ancient Greek; the modern language that provides the translation and the glosses, i.e. the language spoken by the users of a bilingual dictionary; the graphic layout. Consideration of the first factor, Ancient Greek, implies taking into account the progress achieved in study of the texts and the language in all its aspects. Features such as the broadening of lexical and grammatical knowledge, an in-depth reappraisal and updating of the interpretation of the entire range of written evidence, new or even first critical editions of texts, discovery of new words, new attestations in previously unknown genres or periods, lead to a constant enrichment of the data. Progress of this kind is also based on a more extended and in-depth evaluation of the full range of written testimony: accordingly, the use of electronic databases (first and foremost the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae of Irvine, California) constitutes an essential aid.
The second factor is the medium utilised to translate and provide an appropriate interpretation, namely the modern language, which obviously undergoes constant evolution and rapid change. This is a vital aspect that cannot be disregarded: the language utilized to explain and translate must not be too remote from current everyday use. In other words, it must not constitute an additional stumbling block for the student. If the working tools available for studying the ancient language are too old and are written in an outmoded style of presentation, they become difficult to use and discourage students from exploring the subject.
This idea of a “user-friendly” tool also includes the question of the layout, which is of crucial assistance in consultation. In effect, the graphic layout is another element that has undergone remarkable change over the past century and has made great progress: anyone who has had more than a brief experience will certainly recollect the vastly different visual impact of the tools available no more than a few decades ago. It is clear that for students taking their first steps in the study of Ancient Greek, the graphic layout of their books must be suited to their tastes. Today, a dictionary is above all the achievement of team work. I cannot forget the beginning of the work in 1989, and everything that was done thereafter for the three Italian editions, then for the Greek edition of 2013 and for the English edition which is now presented here. I owe a heavy debt of thanks to the innumerable scholars whose invaluable work has made this achievement possible. There are too many to list all by name, but I would like to express my personal thanks to those scholars, whose particular contributions have proven substantial. First, I would like to thank Gregory Nagy, Leonard Muellner and Madeleine Goh for their unending dedication to the project. Second, I am grateful to Davide Muratore for his careful review and feedback, which greatly added to the accuracy of the dictionary. Next, I would thank my colleagues, Luigi Battezzato, Albio Cesare Cassio, Emanuele Dettori, and Fausto Montana for their honest critiques and reviews as we entered the final stages. And lastly, I offer my gratitude to Chad Schroeder, who agreed to co-edit two years ago and whose insights and contributions since assuming this role have proven immeasurable to the team. As I wrote in the preface to the first edition, GI / GE would probably have come into being without me, but certainly not without these contributors.

Franco Montanari
University of Genoa, June 2015

Preface by the Center for Hellenic Studies

Why another ancient Greek lexicon in English, and why one based on an existing modern Italian one? Why not rely exclusively on the dictionary of Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon? When Brill asked the three of us in 2010 to undertake the editing of an English version of the Greek-Italian dictionary of Franco Montanari - Vocabolario della lingua greca, then in its second edition - we had not yet fully reckoned with the fact that the original “Liddell and Scott,” later transformed into “Liddell-Scott-Jones” or “LSJ” in the aftermath of the contributions made by Henry Stuart Jones and Roderick McKenzie, cannot really be called an “original” Greek-English lexicon. This venerable dictionary, first published in 1843 and now in its ninth edition, published in 1940, with a supplement added in 1996, was based on the fourth edition of the Greek-German lexicon of Franz Passow, Handwörterbuch der griechischen Sprache, published in 1831. The first edition of Passow, published only seven years earlier in 1824, was in turn based on the Griechisch-deutsches Wörterbuch of Johann Gottlob Schneider, published in 1798. Thus the cross-fertilization of lexica over multiple generations and involving basically two modern languages is a tradition in its own right, reaching back to the very beginnings of the history of the modern dictionary. With the hindsight of four years of work on the present Greek-English dictionary, we are convinced that such cross-fertilization is at the very core of lexicography and even of classical philology.
An enormous effort would be required for the revising of a dictionary like the LSJ. Although supplemented, to general acclaim, by P.G.W. Glare in 1996, the current LSJ has not undergone a major revision since the 9th edition by Jones and McKenzie in 1940. That revision took 15 years. And, needless to say, the funding as well as the time necessary for compiling a new dictionary for a language as complex as ancient Greek both in its breadth and in its chronological span is daunting. An instructive comparandum is the monumental Oxford Latin Dictionary, compiled without basing itself on any previous work. That project was originally planned for publication in twelve years but in fact took from 1933 to 1982 (granted, the project was prolonged when World War II interrupted the work for a number of years), with the first set of 256 pages published in 1968 and an addition published every other year until the entire volume was completed in 1982, almost half a century after the ambitious work was begun. Also, though its scope is more monumental and vast even compared to the Oxford Latin Dictionary, another comparandum is the Diccionario Griego-Español, overseen by Francisco Rodríguez Adrados since 1980. It now awaits its eighth volume, which will comprise the latter half of the letter Epsilon. In the absence of a revision of the main body of LSJ, especially in the light of the recent advances made in scholarship on the ancient Greek world, another Greek-English lexicon that incorporates such new knowledge is surely a most welcome addition.
This Greek-English project is presented as an enhancement of lexicog- raphy, which is an intuitive procedure, not an exact science - a fact that sometimes eludes even the most advanced students of Greek. As John Chadwick points out in the introduction to his pathfinding Lexicographica Graeca: Contributions to the lexicography of Ancient Greek (1995), modern lexicographers have tended to treat “as a positive fact” the opinions of an- cient lexicographers, which, as useful and necessary as they are, must be considered merely a starting point for understanding the semantics of a given lemma, that is, of any word to be defined. This Greek-English dictio- nary, following the lead of Franco Montanari, presents a critical approach to lexicography in and of itself. But of course even a critical approach must by necessity present interpretations, however valid, of the existing evi- dence for the semantics of any given lemma. And interpretations are not simply a matter of “positive fact.” The editors of this new lexicon, as pre- sented in English, are keenly aware of this reality as they aim to achieve a more nuanced understanding of the full range of surviving ancient Greek. The editing of this volume has been for us a task that was both exhilarating and humbling for these reasons. Our objective was an accurate elucidation of each Greek lemma in English, and, accordingly, it is to be emphasized that the lexicon is not a translation of the Italian definitions in and of themselves. Also, as noted in Franco Montanari’s preface, the English version includes a not insignificant number of new lemmata. Incorporated are the corrections stemming from the Italian third edition, which came out in May 2013. While our edition also incorporates other corrections discovered during the translating and editing, and although we have double-checked citations when questions arose, we have not done a systematic revision of the definitions or citations of the Italian third edition. Finally, we must note that the first edition of any lexicon, and certainly one originally based on another language, is bound to contain not only some infelicities in idiom and clarity but also outright errors. Still, we have tried our best to render 132,884 lemmata into as clear and idiomatic modern American English as possible in the span of four years.
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. Our methodology relies on the application of historical linguistics to the study of new lemmata, and this reliance at times takes us even beyond the third edition of the Italian version. In continuing to account for ever newer lemmata, we follow the aim of Franco Montanari in seeking to include later Greek, even from patristic sources (for which the users of LSJ, for example, had to consult the dictionary of Lampe). There is also a representative set of lemmata for names of persons and places. In general, our hope is that this lexicon will be a useful tool for specialists in ancient Greek as well as for students at all levels.
The work of Leonard Muellner and Gregory Nagy as advisory editors has been carried out in collaboration with many scholars, but most of all with the managing editor Madeleine Goh, who has been in charge of the day-to-day editing over the last four years. Chad Schroeder, who initially joined the team as one of the five translators in 2010, joined the editorial team in August 2013, and contributed greatly to the completion of the project. As for the team of translators and proof-readers, their dedication and hard work cannot be praised enough. They are Rachel Barrett-Costa, Michael Chappell, Michael Chase, Ela Harrison, Patrick Paul Hogan, Jared Hudson, Sergio Knipe, Peter Mazur, Serena Perrone, Chad Schroeder, Chris Welser. The indefatigable project managers Diana Steele and Bas van der Mije at Brill, as well as Noel Spencer and Keith Stone, both at the Center for Hellenic Studies, must also be thanked. And special thanks go to Franco Montanari himself, who has generously consulted with us at many points throughout this project to discuss specific issues that arose as well as general questions about lexicography. Our statement is proudly signed by all three of us as leaders of the team at Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington, D.C.

Gregory Nagy, Director at CHS Leonard Muellner, Director of Information Technology and Publications at CHS Madeleine Goh, Fellow in Lexicographical Research at CHS February 2015.

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