The quest for the essence of words

Greek etymological lexica (“Etymologika”) are among the most important lexicographic achievements pertaining to the history of ancient and medieval knowledge in Europe. They continued to be produced, used and extended even into the Renaissance and early modern period. The term used for these lexica is derived from Classical Antiquity’s philosophical and grammatical analysis of language in search of the étymon, that is, the “true meaning” and essence of a word. The knowledge preserved in the Etymologika is an important heritage of Ancient and Byzantine Greek culture that has not received sufficient scholarly attention as yet.


  • critical edition, translation and commentary of the influential Greek lexicon “Etymologicum Gudianum”

  • study of the rich manuscript production of Graeco-Byzantine etymological lexica

  • dissemination of results both in a printed edition and by creating comprehensive online resources

Project Description

The project’s main objective is creating the first complete critical edition of the influential “Etymologicum Gudianum” with translation and commentary. Both a printed edition and extensive online resources will be provided to make the results accessible more widely.

The rich production and use of the corresponding manuscripts characterised by their multi-layered texts and later additions will be studied thoroughly. Thus, the cultural environment that created and disseminated these manuscripts can be analysed to determine their role as repositories and vehicles of knowledge.


The Long-term Project is funded in the framework of the Academies Programme, which is coordinated by the Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities.

The Long-term Project is being implemented at the Intitute of Greek and Latin Philology of Universität Hamburg as part of the co-ooperation of the academy and the university.

Key facts
Complete title of the Long-term Project:

Etymologika. The ordering and interpretation of knowledge in Greek and Byzantine lexica into the Renaissance. Online edition with resources on manuscript production, user groups and cultural setting


Prof. Dr. Christian Brockmann


01.01.2020 to 31.12.2037

For more information:

To the project flyer

To the project homepage

To the AGATE portal (Research Information System of the Academies of Sciences and Humanities)


Conference Thursday, 24.02.2022 - Friday, 25.02.2022
Greek scholarship in southern Italy in the 10th-13th centuries and its relations with Byzantium: manuscripts, texts, and cultural areas.
Further information


Project Etymologika

Institut für Griechische und Lateinische Philologie
Universität Hamburg
Überseering 35, Postfach #1
22297 Hamburg

Dr. Stefano Valente
Email: stefano.valente(at)
Tel.: +49 40 42838 2757