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Harpocra'tion, Vale'rius

The author of a Greek dictionary to the works of the ten Attic orators.

All we know about his personal history is contained in a line or two in Suidas, who calls him a rhetorician of Alexandria, and, besides the above-mentioned dictionary, attributes to him an ἀνθηρῶν συναλωλή, which is lost. We are thus left in the dark as to the time in which our rhetorician lived. Some believe that he is the same person as the Harpocration who, according to Julius Capitolinus ( Verus, 2), instructed the emperor L. Verus in Greek; so that he would have lived in the latter half of the second century after Christ. Maussac (Dissert. Crit. p. 378, in Blancard's edition of Harpocration) points out passages from which it would appear that Harpocration must have been acquainted with the Deipnosophists of Athenaeus, and that consequently he must have lived after the time of Athenaeus. Others, again, look upon him as identical with the Harpocration whom Libanius (Epist. 367) calls a good poet and a still better teacher; whence it would follow that he lived about A. D. 354. Others, lastly, identify him with the physician Harpocration: but all is mere conjecture, and it is impossible to arrive at any positive conviction.1


A Greek dictionary to the works of the ten Attic orators

This dictionary is entitled Περὶ τῶν λέξεων τῶν δέκα ῥητόρων, or λεξικὸν τῶν δέκα ῥητόρων, and is still extant. It contains not only explanations of legal and political terms, but also accounts of persons and things mentioned in the orations of the Attic orators. The work is to us of the highest importance, as it contains a vast deal of information on the public and civil law of Athens, and on antiquarian, historical, and literary subjects, of which we should be in ignorance but for this dictionary of Harpocration, for most of the works from which the author compiled are lost, and appear to have perished at an early time. Hence Suidas, the author of the Etymologicum Magnum, and other late grammarians, derived their information on many points from Harpocration.


The text of Harpocration's dictionary was first printed, with the Scholia of Ulpian on the Philippics of Demosthenes, in the Aldine edition (Venice, 1503, and again in 1527); but the first critical edition is that by Ph. J. Maussac (Paris, 1614, 4to.), with a commentary and a learned dissertation on Harpocration. This edition was reprinted, with some improvements and additional notes of H. Valesius, by N. Blancard, Leyden, 1683, 4to., and followed by the edition of J. Gronovius, Harderwyk, 1696, 4to. The Leipzig edition (1824, 2 vols. 8vo.) incorporates everything that had been done by previous editors for Harpocration. The most recent edition of the text (together with the dictionary of Moeris) is that of I. Bekker, Berlin, 1833, 8vo.


1 GRC: 6/11/2008: Moved this paragraph to the start the of article to bring it into conformance with most other articles.

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354 AD (1)
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