Thursday, January 9, 2014


Davide Baldi, Etymologicum Symeonis Γ-Ε. Corpus Christianorum series Graeca (CCSG), 79. Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2013. Pp. liv, 423. ISBN 9782503544113. €255.00.

Reviewed by Ian C. Cunningham, Edinburgh (

Version at BMCR home site

[The Table of Contents is listed at end of review.]

Although etymology interested Greeks already in ancient times (one need mention only Plato's Cratylus), the lexicographical category of Etymologica first appears in the so-called first Byzantine renaissance, alongside and sharing many features with lexica and συναγωγαί ('collections'), and like them deriving material from ancient grammatical works and commentaries. As the name suggests, etymologica concentrated on the derivation of words, but not to the exclusion of meaning, syntax and usage. The principal aim was to assist in the understanding of earlier literature and in writing correct, i.e. ancient, rather than contemporary, Greek.

The first modern publication was of the Etymologicum Magnum in 1499,1 and other editions of that work followed down to that of Thomas Gaisford in 1848.2 The existence of others was known and some were published, in particular entries from Symeon in Gaisford's notes. But there was no clear picture of the field and the relation of its parts until the appearance of Richard Reitzenstein's revolutionary Geschichte in 1897.3 He identified the original work, now known as the Etymologicum Genuinum (Et. Gen.; s. ix) and its three principal derivatives, the Etymologicum Gudianum (Et. Gud.; s. xi), the Etymologicum Symeonis (Et. Sym.; s. xii), and the Etymologicum Magnum (EM; s. xii), and clarified their relationships.

However, publication of the texts has proceeded fitfully. Reitzenstein's own interests moved away. De Stefani's Et. Gud. 4 did not get beyond zeta. The over-ambitious project of Lasserre and Livadaras5 to combine the other three stalled after two volumes at the end of beta. For Et. Sym. alone, Sell6 and Berger7 had edited parts of alpha and beta, and it is these which Baldi has now continued, with this edition of gamma, delta and epsilon, based on his doctoral thesis at Udine.

After a full bibliography, the introduction gives brief descriptions of the manuscripts, two of the Ἐτυμολογικὸν Συμεῶν τοῦ μεγάλου γραμματικοῦ, and three of the derived Μεγάλη Γραμματική, all s. xiii-xiv. Then comes information on the sources: Et. Gen., Et. Gud., and a variety of other lexical works. Next are sections on abbreviations, structure of the glosses, alphabetical order, content of the glosses (all somewhat perfunctory). Finally (what one might have expected earlier) discussion of the relationship of the manuscripts and the sources, and description of the four sections of apparatus: codicum, fontium, criticus, and locorum, followed by three stemmata (of the etymologica and of the manuscripts of Et. Sym. [as proposed by Lasserre-Livadaras but rejected by Baldi; and Baldi's own].)

After the text come three indexes: locorum S. Scripturae, auctorum, and glossarum. Why the first two are separated (the first has only 10 entries) is not stated; patristic authors are in the second.

Baldi says nothing at all about the author. In truth little is known, but that little might have been mentioned: working between the Et. Gud. and the Lex. Tittmannianum ('Zonaras'), therefore s. xii med., and author of another unpublished lexical work on the different meanings of words.8

The Μεγάλη Γραμματική is an expanded recension of the original, and it is important that the expansions, both to existing entries and completely new ones, are clearly indicated. This information is given in the apparatus codicum, but it would have been much more helpful to have it in the text. The explanation for not so doing is that the rules of the Corpus Christianorum series require that the Greek text be presented without additions (p. XLIII); if these rules are really so inflexible, one may wonder if it is the best location for a work of this kind, which is not a continuous literary text but a compilation of various elements.

The Et. Sym. has an interest and importance beyond itself, in that its text is on occasion better preserved than those of its sources, and so it can be used to correct them. This applies most of all to the principal source, the Et. Gen., but also in differing degrees to the Et. Gud., Stephanus of Byzantium, and the EM (the last used only in the Μεγάλη Γραμματική). Baldi's apparatus fontium supplies appropriate information. It also gives better, though necessarily incomplete, access to the relevant parts of the Et. Gen. than is currently available in print.

Baldi in this apparatus gives only the immediate and certain sources used (p. XLIII), though others, direct and indirect, are listed on pp. XXX-XXXII. This is quite defensible in general, but one source which is actually cited by name, τò ῥητορικóν, deserves more explanation than is given on p. XXVIII n. 15. Although there is no need for the editor of the Et. Sym. to join in the controversy about the identity of this work, a fuller statement of that controversy is surely required, viz. that while Theodoridis thinks it is the lexicon of Photius, Alpers argues that it is a version of the Συναγωγὴ λέξεων χρησίμων related to but not identical with that used by Photius.

The apparatus locorum likewise gives only reasonably certain references; this includes not only passages cited verbatim or with the author's name, but also those identified only in the Et. Gen. or otherwise inferred. The Index Auctorum includes all; a typographical distinction might usefully have been given.

It is now a generally accepted principle that lexicographical texts should not be 'corrected' to agree with their ultimate sources, and with their immediate sources only if an error can be attributed to their own tradition. Putting this into practice is however one of the hardest tasks of an editor. It is to Baldi's credit that he goes wrong only very occasionally (some examples below).

This is a high-quality edition, both with regard to the editorial and printing aspects. It is to be hoped that Baldi, or others, will continue the task and finally achieve the complete publication of Symeon's work.

I conclude with a few notes on details.

• δ 70 καθαριεύειν is the reading of both Et. Sym. and Et. Gen. (A; B has an abbreviation) and ought not to be corrected. So 222 διασπιδέος.
• δ 261 (and elsewhere) '… legendum erit': where does Baldi wish these corrections to be made? Not in Et. Sym. certainly; '… recte', as at δ 114, would be better. It should be noted that ἀν‐ is the reading of the source (Et. Gen.) and its source (Συν.″), while ἀνθ- is given by Συν.″′ and Hesychius.
• δ 341 διατεῖναι is the reading of EM 284, 45. So ε 162 εὐνάτηρ EM 302, 17.
• ε 218, 18 βοῦν ἐπὶ γλώσσης φέρει is not from Aeschylus, Agam. 36 βοῦς ἐπὶ γλώσσηι; it may be a conflation of this and the proverb βοῦν ἐν γνάθοις φέρει (Su. β 446).
• ε 232 The error Orus for Orion (correctly cited in the App. loc.) should be noted in the App. crit.
• ε 328 βλαβερά was recognised by Kuster (ed. Su.)
• ε 548 The accent could have been corrected according to Baldi's principles (p. XLIV) and practice (e.g. ε 596).

Table of Contents

Tradizione manoscritta
Caratteristiche paleografiche
'Il libro come oggetto d'uso'
Sequenza alfabetica
Analisi funzionalista
Constitutio textus
Conspectus siglorum
Ἀρχὴ σὺν Θεῷ τοῦ Γ στοιχείου
Ἀρχὴ σὺν Θεῷ τοῦ Δ στοιχείου
Ἀρχὴ τοῦ Ε στοιχείου
Index locorum S. Scripturae
Index auctorum
Index glossarum


1.   Ετυμολογικον μεγα, ed. M. Musurus, Venet., 1499
2.   Etymologicum Magnum, ed. T. Gaisford, Oxon., 1848
3.   R. Reitzenstein, Geschichte der griechischen Etymologika, Leipzig, 1897. On E. Sym. especially ch. 5, pp. 254-86.
4.   Etymologicum Gudianum, ed. A. De Stefani, Lips., 1909-20.
5.   Etymologicum magnum genuinum, Symeonis etymologicum una cum Magna grammatica, Etymologicum magnum auctum, ed. F. Lasserre – N. Livadaras, Rom. et Athen., 1978-92.
6.   H. Sell, Das Etymologicum Symeonis (α - ἀίω), Meisenheim, 1968.
7.   G. Berger, Etymologicum Genuinum et Etymologicum Symeonis (β), Meisenheim, 1972.
8.   Συναγωγὴ πρὸς διαφόρους σημαινομένους σημασίας. See Reitzenstein, Gesch., 256.

No comments:

Post a Comment