Stephanos of Byzantium

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Stephanos of Byzantium ( Middle Greek Στέφανος Βυζάντιος Stéphanos Byzántios ), also known as Stephanus Byzantinus , was a late ancient Greek grammarian who probably worked in the early days of Emperor Justinian I , i.e. around the 2nd quarter of the 6th century at the University of Constantinople worked.

The exact dates of his life are not known. He was the author of a comprehensive geographical, but only partially preserved lexicon called Ethnika ( Greek Ἐθνικά ) in 50 to 60 books, through which older material about ancient geography (place names and their linguistic determination), oracles and miracle stories are preserved. Apart from a few fragments, the work has only survived in an epitome , an excerpt, which, according to Suda, an otherwise unknown grammarian Hermolaos had made. This Hermolaos dedicated his epitome to Justinian. Whether this is Justinian I or Justinian II is controversial. Stephanos probably worked in the early 6th century.

The main fragments of the original work are preserved by Konstantinos Porphyrogennetos , De administrando imperio . Another important fragment, from the article Δύμη to the end of Δ , exists as a manuscript in the Seguerische Bibliothek. Konstantinos Porphyrogennetos was probably the last to use the complete works, Suda and Eustathios of Thessalonica already used the epitome.

The quality tends to fluctuate, but the excerpts are a not insignificant source, especially because of their information on the geography, mythology and religion of ancient Greece . The work therefore contains some very valuable information. However, Stephanos was hardly concerned with topographical or geographical accuracy, but rather pursued philological interests: more important to him than the location of a place was the exact name and its (supposed) etymology. The main value that his work has for modern research is therefore the quotes from Stephanos and Hermolaos from older works that are otherwise lost today.

In the article Gothoi (Gamma 104), Stephanos alludes to another work he wrote, apparently a historical chronicle. However, this is completely lost.

In modern times, the ethnics of Stephanos were received as an antiquarian source and testimony to late antique lexicography. The first printed edition appeared in 1502 by Aldus Manutius in Venice. Later editions by Wilhelm Xylander (1568), Abraham van Berkel (1674, 1688) and Jakob Gronovius (1688) contained valuable conjectures and annotations, but did not do justice to the complex handwritten tradition. The edition by Anton Westermann (1839) was just an annotated copy of the Gronovius text. A critical edition based on a collation of three important text witnesses was submitted by August Meineke in 1849 . The commentary volume that he originally wanted to deliver never appeared. His edition remained fundamental for a long time, especially since the edition plans of Benedikt Niese and Felix Jacoby were not realized.

The authoritative edition was prepared by Margarethe Billerbeck in Freiburg (Switzerland). It goes back to preliminary work by Felix Jacoby, Ernst Grumach and Rudolf Keydell and is the first to present the text after a thorough examination of all relevant text witnesses, including translation and comments.



Web links

Wikisource: Stephanos of Byzantium  - Sources and full texts


  1. Suda , keyword Hermolaos ( Ἑρμόλαος ), Adler number: epsilon 3048 , Suda-Online