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One page of the Suda in the manuscript Rome written in 1205, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana , Vaticanus graecus 1296 (fol.193r)
Page from an early print edition of the Suda (15th / 16th century)

The Suda ( Middle Greek ἡ Σοῦδα hē Soûda , German 'the bulwark' ) is the most extensive surviving Byzantine lexicon ; it was probably made around 970. It was originally attributed to an author named Suidas .


The Suda contains over 30,000 lemmas and is - in contrast to most other reference works of the time - arranged alphabetically. It can therefore be interpreted as a very early forerunner of modern lexicons or encyclopedias .

The Suda contains numerous articles on the life and works of ancient and early medieval authors, as well as on ancient historiography and geography . There are also articles from philosophy , science and literary history . The content is sometimes unreliable, since a lot has apparently been quoted from memory and the sources used (including comments and writings by the grammarians ) were themselves unreliable. Since the lexicon quotes many lost works, it is nevertheless an irreplaceable source for classical philology . It was already widely used in Byzantine times and the Renaissance .

The humanistic philologist Justus Lipsius or Denis Lambin is ascribed the sentence: pecus est Suidas, sed pecus aurei velleris ("Suidas is a sheep, but a sheep with golden wool").


The work was probably compiled by several authors, for example from older, mostly lost, antique encyclopedias by Eudemos of Pergamon , Helladios , Longinos , Eirenaios of Smyrna and Pamphilos of Alexandria , as well as from scholias on works by classical authors such as Aristophanes , Homer , Sophocles and Thucydides and Lukianos .

Recent research suggests that more recent models may have been used, such as the synagogue ( Συναγωγὴ λέξεων χρησίμων ) and harpocration . The references to ancient historians probably also do not go back to the original texts, but mainly to Constantinus Porphyrogennetos .


Today the work is usually cited as Suda . It was ascribed to an author named Suidas (also Souidas or Soudas ) until about 1930 (and in part until today) , but no author by this name is known. It is therefore very likely that the word Suda (erroneously read as Suidas ) in the manuscripts is the title of the work, not the name of an author. This error probably goes back to Eustathios of Thessalonike . The title Suda probably means "entrenchment" or "fortification": The lexicon should therefore probably serve as a "fortress of knowledge" or as a "fortress against oblivion".

Suda On Line (SOL)

The Suda is partially available in digital form. Since January 1998 an international group of scientists has been developing the web-based edition Suda On Line (SOL). The translation and commentary is under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license .


  • Ada Adler (Ed.): Suidae lexicon. 5 volumes. Teubner, Leipzig 1928–1938 (reprinted Leipzig 1994–2001)

See also


  • Barry Baldwin: Aspects of the Suda. In: Byzantion 76, 2006, pp. 11–31.
  • Wilhelm von Christ : History of Greek Literature. Part 2/2, 6th edition, 1924, p. 1091 ff.
  • Wolfram Hörandner, Erich Trapp: Lexicographica Byzantina. Contributions to the symposium on Byzantine lexicography (Vienna, March 1-4, 1989) ; therein u. a .: H. Hunger: What is not in the Suda, or: What could the educated Byzantines of the 10./11. Would you expect a "conversation lexicon" from the 19th century? (Byzantina Vindobonensia, vol. 20). Vienna 1991
  • Herbert Hunger : The high-level profane literature of the Byzantines. Vol. 2, Munich 1978, p. 508 (Index, sv Suda ).
  • Christos Theodoridis: Critical remarks on the Lexicon des Suidas . In: Hermes 116, 1988, pp. 468-475.
  • Erich Trapp , Johannes Diethart , Georgios Fatouros , Astrid Steiner, Wolfram Hörandner: Studies on Byzantine Lexicography ; therein u. a .: A. Steiner: Byzantine in the vocabulary of the Suda (Byzantina Vindobonensia, Vol. 18). Vienna 1988
  • Antonio Ruiz de Elvira: Suidas, y non "la Suda". In: Myrtia 12, 1997, pp. 5-8.

Web links

Wikisource: Suda  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. Wolfgang Wegner: 'Suda'. In: Werner E. Gerabek , Bernhard D. Haage, Gundolf Keil , Wolfgang Wegner (eds.): Enzyklopädie Medizingeschichte. De Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-015714-4 , p. 1366.