Hesychios of Alexandria

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Hesychios of Alexandria ( ancient Greek Ἡσύχιος ὁ Ἀλεξανδρεύς ) was an ancient Greek philologist and lexicographer. He wrote a lexicon of the Greek language and its dialects.


Little is known about the person of Hesych. His name and place of origin can be seen from the title of his work: Ἡσυχίου γραμματικοῦ Ἀλεξανδρέως συναγωγὴ πασῶν λέξεων κατὰ στοιχεῖον ἐκ τῶν Ἀριστάρχου καὶ Ἀπίωνος καὶ Ἡλιοδώρου . The chronological classification of the work and its author is also not certain; the dedication to a Eulogios makes the 5th century AD conceivable, if this is to be equated with the scholast Eulogios. Further attempts range from the 4th century to the late Byzantine period.


His dedication epistle, which scholars understand as sincere and understanding, tells us about the models of Hesych. For example, Hesych names the philologist Diogenianos Grammatikos as a model for the alphabetical arrangement of his lexicon , who was the first to use it separately from special dictionaries (such as those of Apion and Apollonios Archibiu) and up to the fourth letter. At the same time, he criticizes the sources of this model and emphasizes the need for references for rare and controversial words.

Hesych evidently used Diogenian's dictionary as a model; he must also have consulted special dictionaries and a home lexicon (perhaps by the above-mentioned philologists Aristarchus, Apion and Heliodorus ).

The lexicon of Hesych is only available in a single manuscript with the signature Marcianus graecus 622 , which was written on paper in the 15th century. It contains 439 written sheets in the format 19.5 by 29 cm and is well preserved apart from a few blemishes; pages 438 and 439 are lost.

The lexicon is most likely not completely handed down to us, as the length of the manuscript teaches. There are also numerous references in the explanations and references in the glosses, which lead nowhere. In addition, individual second-hand entries show interpolations that fall out of the alphabetical order.


After the large edition by Moritz Schmidt (5 volumes, 1858–1868), from around 1913 Kurt Latte undertook a critical edition that included both linguistic research and indirect transmission. Latte worked on the edition all his life, but was only able to complete two volumes (Α – Δ 1953; Ε – Ο posthumously 1966). The edition was continued from 1987 by the Danish-British philologist Peter Allan Hansen (1944–2012). The third volume was published in 2005 (Π – Σ), in 2009 the fourth and last (Τ – Ω).

  • Hesychii Alexandrini Lexicon. Edited by Kurt Latte and Peter Allan Hansen. Copenhagen 1953 and 1966, de Gruyter, Berlin 2005 and 2009
  • Hesychii Alexandrini Lexicon. Edited by Moritz Schmidt. Hermann Duft, Jena 1858–1868. Reprint: Amsterdam 1965. Digitized 2nd edition 1867


Web links

Wikisource: Hesychios of Alexandria  - Sources and full texts (Greek)
Wikisource: Hesychios of Alexandria  - Sources and full texts