A Greek Lexicon is extant under the name of Suidas, but nothing is known of the compiler. A Suidas is mentioned by Strabo (p. 329, ed. Casaub.) as the author of a history of Thessaly, and this work is also cited by the scholiast on Apollonius Rhodius, and by Stephanus of Byzantium (s. vv. Ἄμυρος, Δωδώνη, Frag. Steph.
It is not likely that this Suidas is the author of the Lexicon; but no certain conclusion as to the age of the compiler can be derived from passages in the work, which undoubtedly were written long after the time of Stephanus of Byzantium, for the work may have received numerous interpolations and additions. Eustathius, who lived about the end of the twelfth century A. D., quotes the Lexicon of Suidas.
The article Adam (Ἀδάμ
) contains a chronological epitome, which ends with the emperor Joannes Zimisces, who died A. D. 974; and in the article Constantinople (Κωνσταντινούπολις
) are mentioned Basisilius the second, and Constantius, who succeeded Joannes Zimisces.
A remark under the article Polyeuctus (Πολύευκτος
) shows that the writer of that remark was contemporaneous with the Patriarch Polyeuctus (ἐγένετο καὶ καθ᾽ ἡμᾶς Πολύευκτος
, &c.) who succeeded Theophylactus, A. D. 956 (note of Reinesius); but the date 936 is given by other authorities.
This passage which Reinesius assumes to prove the period of the author of the Lexicon, merely proves the period of the writer who made the remark; and he may be either the author of the Lexicon or an interpolator.
But there are passages in the Lexicon which refer even to a later date (s. vv. Ι᾿ηώρος
), for Michael Psellus is quoted, and Psellus lived at the close of the eleventh century A. D. (See the notes on these words in Gaisford's edition.)
The Lexicon of Suidas is a dictionary of words arranged in alphabetical order, with some few peculiarities of arrangement; but it contains both words which are found in dictionaries of languages, and also names of persons and places, with extracts from ancient Greek writers, grammarians, scholiasts, and lexicographers, and some extracts from later Greek writers.
The names of persons comprehend both persons who are mentioned in sacred and in profane history, which shows that if the work is by one hand, it is by a Christian; but there is no inconsistency in supposing that the original of the Lexicon which now goes under the name of Suidas, is a work of earlier date even than the time of Stephanus of Byzantium, and that it received large accessions from some various hands. No well conceived plan has been the basis of this work : it is incomplete as to the number of articles, and exceedingly irregular and unequal in the execution. Some articles are pretty complete, others contain no information at all.
As to the biographical notices it has been conjectured that Suidas or the compiler got them all from one source, which, it is further supposed, may be the Onomatologos or Pinax of Hesychius of Miletus; for it is said in Suidas (s. v. Ἡσύχιος
), "of which this book is an epitome ;" but it is an incorrect interpretation to conclude that Suidas means to say that his work is an epitome of the Onomatologos (or πίναξ τῶν ἐν παιδείἁ ὀνομαστῶν
). which would be manifestly false : he means to say that the work in use at the time when he wrote was an epitome of the Onomatologos.
The scholiast on Aristophanes has been freely used in the compilation of this Lexicon.
The extracts from ancient Greek writers are very numerous, but the names of the writers are frequently omitted.
These extracts have sometimes no reference to the title of the article, and have no application to it; a circumstance probably owing to numerous interpolations made in the manuscript copies of the Lexicon.
A want of criticism pervades the whole work, or rather excessive carelessness, as in the case of the name Severus (Σεβῆρος
, and Küster's note).
The article Alyattes (Ἀλυάττης
) is another instance, and there are others of a like kind.
There is prefixed to the editions of Suidas the following notice : -- Τὸ μὲν παρὸν βιβλίον Σουϊͅδα
, οἱ δὲ συνταξαμἐνοι τοῦτο ἄνδρες σόφοι
, which is followed by a list of twelve names.
As to this title, see the remarks of Harles.
The Lexicon of Suidas, though without merit as to its execution, is valuable both for the literary history of antiquity, for the explanation of words, and for the citations from many ancient writers; and a prodigious amount of critical labour has been bestowed upon it. Many emendations have been made on the text by Toup and others.
The first edition of Suidas was by Demetrius Chalcondylas, Milan, 1499, fol., without a Latin version. The second, by the elder Aldus, Venice, 1514, fol., is also without a Latin version
: this edition was reprinted by Froben, Bale, 1544, fol.
, with some corrections. The first Latin translation of Suidas was made by Hieron. Wolf, Bale, 1564, 1581, fol. The first edition, which contained both the Greek text and a Latin version, was by Aemilius Portus, Geneva, 1619, 2 vols. fol., and 1630, with a new title.
The Latin version is said to be better than Wolf's.
The edition of L. Küster appeared at Cambridge, 1705, 3 vols. folio.
The basis of this edition is not the Editio Princeps, but that of Portus. Küster corrected the text with the aid of the MSS., added numerous good notes, and improved the version of Portus.
But he dealt with the Greek text rather in an arbitrary way, and rejected all that he con sidered to be interpolated. J. Gronovius made an attack on Küster's edition, to which Küster replied.
The preface of Küster contains a dissertation on Suidas.
The edition of Suidas by T. Gaisford, in three handsome volumes folio, appeared at Oxford in 1834.
The first two volumes contain the text without a Latin version, and the notes, which are chiefly selected front Küster and others.
The third volume contains "Index Kusterianus Rerum et Nominum Propriorum quae extra series suam in Suidae Lexico occurrunt ;" " Index Glossarum Personarum Verborumque notatu digniorum ;" and " Index Scriptorum a Suida citatorum."
In his preface Gaisford states, that he used nearly the same MSS. as Küster, but that Küster was careless in noting the readings of the MSS. Gaisford has given the various readings of the best MS., and those of the edition of Chalcondylas. Küster adopted many of the emendations of Portus without acknowledgment, and he is accused generally of borrowing without owning where he got his matter from.
The edition of G. Bernhardy, 4to. Halle, 1834, contains a Latin version.
It is founded on the edition of Gaisford, as appears from the title -- " Gr. & Lat. ad fidem optimorumn librorum exactum, post Th. Gaisford recens. et adnot. critic. instruxit Gdf. Bernhardy."
There are said to be two unpublished extracts from an epitome of Suidas, by Thomas of Crete, and by Macarius Hieromonachus, the brother of Nicephorus Gregoras.
As to the Latin translation of Suidas, said to have been made by Robert Grostete, bishop of Lincoln, who died in 1253, see Fabric. Bibl. Graec.
vol. vi. p. 402.