Instrumenta Philologica


Introduction to Classical Studies     

W. A. Johnson

Instrumenta philologica:

Tools of the Trade for the Study of Greek and Latin

Following is a personal selection of basic lexical, grammatical, and encyclopedic tools of the philological trade. All of these are instruments that scholars of Greek and Latin should know, and know well. Papyrological, epigraphical, palaeographical, and other tools relating to topics covered elsewhere in the syllabus are omitted.

Classics is blessed with many other immensely valuable reference works. Two exhaustive reference guides for classical antiquity are readily available on the web.

(1) "Tools of the Trade for the Study of Roman Literature," Lowell Edmunds & Shirley Werner

(2) "Bibliotheca Classica Selecta – Bibliographie d'orientation," Jacques Poucet & Jean-Marie Hannick

Lexica sim.


LSJ ("Liddell-Scott-Jones")

Liddell H.G., Scott R., A Greek-English Lexicon, 9th ed. rev. Jones H.S. (1940) with integration of P.G.W. Glare's Revised Supplement in the imprint of 1996. The Perseus project maintains an on-line version of the unsupplemented 1940 lexicon. So much the standard that even German, French, and Italian scholars use it as a matter of course (though the French do also resort to Bailly).


Adrados F. R. [Dir.], Diccionario Griego-Español (= DGE), in process since 1980. The latest fascicle was published in 2009, and takes the dictionary through ἔξαυος. An ongoing effort at a Greek dictionary on a significantly larger scale than LSJ. Less independent of LSJ than its authors claim, but still an important new authority well worth consultation.

Lampe, Sophocles, Bauer-Danker

Lampe G.W.H., A Patristic Greek Lexicon, Oxford, 1968. The earlier standard and still an important (since broader-ranging) tool for later Greek is E.A. Sophocles, Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Period, 2 vol., Cambridge, 1914. For New Testament studies, see W. Bauer rev. Frederick W. Danker A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 3rd Edition (=BDAG), Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 2001.

Frisk, Chantraine

The twin standards for etymology of Greek are different in style and often in substance. Chantraine can be particularly useful for an overview of the history of the word; Frisk is more up-to-date with the Mycenaean evidence. H. Frisk, Griechisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, 3 vol., Heidelberg, 1960-1972. P. Chantraine, Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque. Histoire des mots, Paris, 1968-1980.


Fraser P.M., Matthews E., A Lexicon of Greek Personal Names. I. The Aegean Islands, Cyprus, Cyrenaica, Oxford, 1987. II. Attica, Oxford, 1994. III. A. The Peloponnese, Western Greece, Sicily, and Magna Graecia. 1998.  III. B. Central Greece: From the Megarid to Thessaly. 2001. IV. Macedonia, Thrace, northern regions of the Black Sea. 2005. Published by Oxford University Press. An ongoing effort since 1972; Asia Minor remains. Projected to comprise 450,000 names.

Woodhouse, Yonge, Schmidt's Synonymik

The two standard English-to-Greek lexica are S.C. Woodhouse, English-Greek Dictionary, A Vocabulary of the Attic Language (1910), searchable on-line at

and the older standard, not limited to Attic, C. D. Yonge, An English-Greek lexicon, 1870. These books have utility far beyond Greek composition, since they are often the best starting point for trying to ferret out the different semantic fields among related Greek words. Elderly but still outstanding essays on sets of synonyms in Greek will be found in J. H. H. Schmidt, Synonymik der griechischen Sprache, 1876-86, in 4 volumes.


TLL (ThLL in German sources)

Thesaurus linguae Latinae. Leipzig. 1900-. One oversized volume per letter. The standard large-scale Latin lexicon, based on an exhaustive collection of material for all surviving texts down to the Antonine period (2nd c. AD), and on an extensive selection of texts from late antiquity (up to ca. 600) and from inscriptions. Ongoing for over 100 years, and now complete through most of the letter P. (For words past P, the standard of previous centuries can still be used with profit: Egidio Forcellini. Totius latinitatis lexicon consilio et cura Jacobi Facciolati, opera et studio Aegidii Forcellini ... lucubratum. 4 vols., first published in 1771 with many editions and supplements, last in 1940.) Important for use of the TLL is Index librorum scriptorum inscriptionum ex quibus exempla adferuntur, 2nd  ed. 1990, which gives a complete index of authors and works, listing abbreviations, major editions, chronological information. (And for a thorough description of the lexicographical principles of TLL, see  Praemonenda de rationibus et usu operis, 1990.)

Lewis & Short, OLD

The standard English dictionaries for Latin are Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short, A Latin Dictionary (Oxford. 1879) and P. G. W. Glare, ed. Oxford Latin Dictionary (Oxford. 1968-82). Despite its age, Lewis & Short  remains useful since the OLD encompasses only material through ca. 200 AD. (In a famous review, F.R.D. Goodyear estimated that OLD missed about one third of known Latin words by restricting the compass in this way.)

Ernout-Meillet, Walde-Hoffman

Again, there are two standards for etymology, one in French, one in German. M. Ernout and A. Meillet rev. J. André, Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue latine. Histoire des mots, 4th ed. (Paris, 1959) is more accessible but not as complete as A. Walde, rev. J. B. Hofmann, Lateinisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, 2 vols., 3rd ed. (Heidelberg. 1938).


Useful both for composition and for investigations of how Latin semantic fields differ from English. William Smith, rev. Theophilus D. Hall, A copious and critical English-Latin dictionary (1871, recently reprinted by Bolchazi-Carducci).

Grammatica et Linguistica


Schwyzer, Kühner-Gerth

The two standard large-scale Greek grammars. Schwyzer is more diachronic in his analysis (that is, he studies more how the language develops over time). Both are tremendous contributions, fundamental to what we understand of Greek.

• Schwyzer E., Debrunner A., Georgacas D.J., Radt F. & St., Griechische Grammatik. [I. Allgemeiner Teil. Lautlehre. Wortbildung. Flexion; II. Syntax und syntaktische Stilistik; III. Register; IV. Stellenregister] Munich, 4 vol., 1939-1971 (Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft, II, 1).

• Kühner, R. & Gerth, B., 1898-1904. Ausführliche Grammatik der griechischen Sprache, Hannover/Leipzig.

Smyth, Goodwin, Denniston

Smyth, of course, is the standard school grammar. Few seem to recall that it is a digest of Kühner-Gerth. Herbert Weir Smyth. Greek Grammar, Cambridge, Massachusetts, rev. ed. 1956. Goodwin is both fundamental (i.e much used) and out of date (meaning that we all know there is more recent material that is better in analysis, but not as accessible). W. W. Goodwin, W.W. Syntax of the Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb, London, 1889. But no one will ever supersede the minute study of particles in J. D. Denniston, The Greek Particles, 2nd ed., Oxford, 1975.


The standard grammar for New Testament and related texts. The 10th ed. is translated into English. F. Blass and A. Debrunner, A Greek grammar of the New Testament and other early Christian literature, 1961.


H. Rix, Historische Grammatik des Griechischen: Laut- und Formenlehre, Darmstadt, 1976. Far the best summary treatment of Greek morphology and its development.


Kühner-Stegmann, Leumann-Hofmann-Szantyr

The two large-scale grammars for Latin. Kühner remains useful, despite (or because of?) its position as the elder.

• Raphael Kühner and Carl Stegmann. Ausführliche Grammatik der lateinischen Sprache (Hannover, 1912-14) [Teil I. Elementar-, Formen- und Wortlehre, by Raphael Kühner. 2d ed. revised by Friedrich Holzweissig. 1912.
Teil II. Satzlehre, by Raphael Kühner and Carl Stegmann. 2 Vols. 2d ed. 1914. 5th ed. rev. A. Thierfelder. 1976.]

• J. B. Hofmann and Manu Leumann, Lateinische Grammatik. Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft, II 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3 (Munich) [Vol. 1. Lateinische Laut- und Formenlehre, by Manu Leumann. 1977.
Vol. 2. Lateinische Syntax und Stilistik, by J. B. Hofmann. Revised by A. Szantyr. 1965 (3d ed.). Reprint. 1972.
Vol. 3. Stellenregister und Verzeichnis der nichtlateinischen Wörter, by F. S. Radt and A. G. Westerbrink. 1979.]

Allen and Greenough, Gildersleeve

The standard short grammar is Allen and Greenough's New Latin Grammar. Ed. by J. B. Greenough, et al. Boston. 1903. Much reprinted. (Gildersleeve's Latin Grammar is sometimes used, but usually avoided because of its out-of-date terminology; it can be useful for the teacher, however, for its different analysis and collection of examples.)


W. M. Lindsay, The Latin Language: An Historical Account of Latin Sounds, Stems and Flexions (Oxford, 1894). In English and rightly revered, but old and to be used with caution.


E. C. Woodcock, A New Latin Syntax (London, 1959), available in reprint, is a marvelously clear and readable account of the uses and development of case and mood in Latin. I read this for bedtime reading in graduate school, and still keep it by my desk.


Buck, Sihler

Buck, long the standard textbook for the comparative morphology and grammar of Greek and Latin, was intended to be superseded by Sihler, which takes into account the much more complicated understanding of contemporary linguistics. Unfortunately, Sihler is almost unapproachable for those uninitiated in linguistics, and thus Buck remains a useful exposition of the simple (but beware: also sometimes wrong) story. Carl Darling Buck, Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin, 1933; Andrew L. Sihler, New Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin, 1995.


RE / Pauly-Wissowa

August Pauly, Georg Wissowa, and W. Kroll. Real-Encyclopädie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft. Stuttgart. 1894-. 2d ed. completed in 1980. A critical entry point for finding the most updated material in RE is Tobias Erler et al., eds. Pauly's Real-Encyclopädie der klassischen Altertumswissenschaft : Gesamtregister. 2 Vols. Stuttgart. 1997.

Comprehensive encyclopedia of the classical world from the Bronze Age to the Carolingian renaissance (c. 800 A.D.). Written, graphic, and material sources are given equal consideration.

Neue Pauly, OCD3

Helmuth Schneider et al., eds. Der Neue Pauly. Encyclopädie der Antike. Stuttgart. 1996-. In 18 vols. Announced as a revision and rewriting of RE, and now available on-line and in (not quite complete) English translation, this turns out to be an update but also a digest, by no means as comprehensive and certainly no replacement for the Real-Encyclopedia. Still, it can serve as a useful starting point, with up-to-date bibliography, when you need something more than the very brief, if also generally competent entries in the OCD. (=Simon Hornblower and Antony Spawforth, eds. Oxford Classical Dictionary. 3d ed. Oxford. 1996.)


H. Temporini and W. Haase, eds. Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt. Geschichte und Kultur Roms im Spiegel der neueren Forschung. Berlin. 1972-. Massive compilation of individual studies (in German, English, French, or Italian) on Roman literature, history, and culture.

Literary Histories

Schmidt-Stählin, Schanz-Hosius

These are several of the volumes of the Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft. Underused today, they are amazing compendia of the primary data that underlies our understanding of the literary history of Greece and Rome. Look here not so much for the history itself, but for the details of what we know and from what we infer.

• W. Schmidt-O. Stahlin, Geschichte der griechischen Literatur, I (1-5), W. Schmidt-O.

Stahlin-W. von Christ, Geschichte der griechischen Literatur, II (1-2), Munich,  7 vols. 1920-1948, 1959.

• M. Schanz and C. Hosius. Geschichte der römischen Literatur bis zum Gesetzgebungswerk des Kaisers Justinian. 4 Vols. Munich.


P. E. Easterling-B. M. W. Knox (Eds.), The Cambridge History of Classical Literature. I.

Greek Literature, Cambridge, 1985. E. J. Kenney and W. V. Clausen, eds. The Cambridge History of Classical Literature. II: Latin Literature. Cambridge. 1982. Chapters on individual authors and genres in a broadly chronological framework. The "Appendix of Authors and Works" contains material relating to biography, chronology, bibliography.


G. B. Conte. Latin Literature. A History. Translated by J. B. Solodow. Revised by D. Fowler and G. W. Most. Baltimore. 1994. Chapters by author, in rough chronological sequence. A very readable and often brilliant account for both individual authors and the overall development.


A. Lesky, A History of Greek Literature, 1966. Translated from the German. The standard of a previous generation, often less readable but more thorough than HCL.



A complete text data bank of ancient Greek literary texts to 600 AD, with excellent coverage of Byzantine materials that focus on antiquity (e.g. Photius). We are lucky to have full access to the web version:


Two CDROM-based products (see library staff for use).

• PHI CD-ROM #5. Packard Humanities Institute. Los Altos. 1991. Latin authors and texts up to c. 200 A.D., with a few important later authors (e.g., Servius, the Vulgate, some of the Latin grammarians). PHI also has created CDROMs for Greek epigraphical and papyrological texts; and is in the process of establishing a web site (presently operative only for the Greek epigraphical texts).

The CETEDOC Library of Christian Latin Texts on CD-ROM. Centre de traitement électronique des documents. Louvain. 1994. The database consists of four parts: 1. The complete works of several major authors (Augustine, Jerome, Gregory the Great, and others), 2. The Corpus Patrum Latinorum as a whole (that is, the Corpus Christianorum and the Continuatio Mediaevalis), 3. A number of texts not yet published in the Corpus Christianorum (largely from the Patrologia Latina of Migne), 4. The Vulgate and the Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament.

We are now awaiting acquisition of the Teubner online library of Latin texts (BTL), as well as the online ThLL.

I append for convenience information on electronica for inscriptions and papyri.

Greek and Latin Inscriptions

The Greek inscriptions are mostly complete, the Latin inscriptions less so, but both are extremely useful.

• Packard Humanities Institute (PHI) Inscriptions Project:

• Latin Inscriptions:


The Duke Data Base of Documentary Papyri is now best accessed through the navigator, which also gives access to the metadata and to the images: