SCARCE GREEK ETYMOLOGICAL DICTIONARY

Lexicopator Etymon.

Paris, apud Guillaume Roland Jérôme de Gourmont, 1543.

£2,750

FIRST EDITION. Folio. pp. (xlii) 1910 [i.e., 1890] columns (cxv). Roman letter, some Greek. Woodcut architectural t-p with (above) Christ surrounded by cherubs, flanked by coats of arms, roundels with portraits of Evangelists and monogram EG to columns, (below) visitation of the Magi; decorated initials. Light age yellowing, minimal worming to lower outer blank corner of A-g4, intermittent faint waterstaining to lower margin of few gatherings. A good copy in contemporary vellum, C17 mottling, raised bands, extremities a little rubbed, later casemark inked to front pastedown, inscriptions ‘Ex lib. Hieronymi Le Veau pr[es]b[iter]i Parisini, J.C. Licentiati Parisiensis, 1696, postea Professoris Navarrici an. D[omi]ni 1697 et seqq.’, ‘Collegii Paris Societ. Jesu’ and ‘Andeas [sic] Hacqvevillius me habet’ inked to t-p.

Good copy of the scarce first edition of this monumental etymological dictionary—a tribute to Renaissance Greek studies. Jean Chéradame (fl. early C16) was professor of Hebrew and Greek at the Parisian Collège Royal in the 1540s. His interest in grammar led to the publication of works on Greek lexicography including ‘Lexicopator’, an enlarged version of his ‘Lexicon graecum’ of 1523. This majestic philological tour-de-force, dedicated to Francis I, follows theological readings which considered the ‘names of primordial things’ as those uttered by God and thus heard and learnt by Adam—a ‘lingua sancta’ which could only be reconstructed through the origin of words. The science of etymology blossomed in the medieval period, especially with the circulation of Isidore of Seville’s immensely influential ‘Etymologiae’, in which words were given an intrinsic lexicographic essence, reaching however paradoxes like ‘lucus a non lucendo’ (‘dark grove from absence of light’). Chéradame employed instead the philological method developed by humanists focusing on particles and the grammatical construction of words. For instance, the meaning of ‘emporos’ (merchant) is said to derive from the union of ‘en’ and ‘poros’ (‘on’ and ‘journey’) since merchants were always on the road. There are nevertheless frequent attempts to stretch the method too far, e.g., ‘basileus’, king, from ‘basis’ and ‘lao’, as ‘someone who sustains the people’. In these cases, the word ‘quasi’ (‘as’) marks an interpretation which is the sum of the meanings of different words. This technique, closer to Isidore’s method, was not completely discarded until the development of Indo-European studies in the C19. This copy was owned by Andreas Hacqueville, a counsellor in the French Parliament, in the C16; it was later in the library of the Jesuit College in Paris and then among the books of Jérôme Le Veau, a graduate of the Jesuit College and professor at the Collège of Navarre after 1697.

USTC 153738. Not in BM STC Fr., EDIT16, Brunet, Graesse, Adams or Mortimer.

L3026

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