Souda (Medieval Greek: Σοῦδα, translit. Soûda;
Latin: Suidae Lexicon) is a large 10th-century Byzantine
encyclopedia of the ancient Mediterranean world, formerly attributed
to an author called Soudas (Σούδας) or Souidas (Σουίδας).
It is an encyclopedic lexicon, written in Greek, with 30,000 entries,
many drawing from ancient sources that have since been lost, and often
derived from medieval Christian compilers. The derivation is
probably from the Byzantine Greek word souda, meaning "fortress" or
"stronghold", with the alternate name, Suidas, stemming from an error
made by Eustathius, who mistook the title for the author's name.
1 Content and sources
1.1 Biographical notices
1.2 Lost scholia
6 External links
Content and sources
Suda is somewhere between a grammatical dictionary and an
encyclopedia in the modern sense. It explains the source, derivation,
and meaning of words according to the philology of its period, using
such earlier authorities as
Harpocration and Helladios. It is a
rich source of ancient and Byzantine history and life, although not
every article is of equal quality, and it is an "uncritical"
Much of the work is probably interpolated, and passages that refer
Michael Psellos (c. 1017-78) are deemed interpolations which were
added in later copies.
This lexicon contains numerous biographical notices on political,
ecclesiastical, and literary figures of the
Byzantine Empire to the
tenth century, those biographical entries being condensations from the
works of Hesychius of Miletus, as the author himself avers. Other
sources were the encyclopedia of Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus
(912–59) for the figures in ancient history, excerpts of John of
Antioch (fifth century) for Roman history, the chronicle of Hamartolus
(Georgios Monachos, 9th century) for the Byzantine age. The
biographies of Diogenes Laërtius, and the works of
Philostratus. Other principal sources include a lexicon by "Eudemus,"
perhaps derived from the work On Rhetorical Language by Eudemus of
The lexicon copiously draws from scholia to the classics (Homer,
Aristophanes, Thucydides, Sophocles, etc.), and for later writers,
Polybius, Josephus, the Chronicon Paschale, George Syncellus, George
Hamartolus, and so on.
Suda quotes or paraphrases these sources
at length. Since many of the originals are lost,
Suda serves an
invaluable repository of literary history, and this preservation of
the "literary history" is more vital than the lexicographical
compilation itself, by some estimation.
The lexicon is arranged alphabetically with some slight deviations
from common vowel order and place in the Greek alphabet (including
at each case the homophonous digraphs, e.g. αι, ει, οι, that had
been previously, earlier in the history of Greek, distinct diphthongs
or vowels) according to a system (formerly common in many languages)
called antistoichia (ἀντιστοιχία); namely the letters
follow phonetically in order of sound, in the pronunciation of the
tenth century which is similar to that of Modern Greek. The order is:
α, β, γ, δ, αι, ε, ζ, ει, η, ι, θ, κ, λ, μ, ν, ξ,
ο, ω, π, ρ, σ, τ, οι, υ, φ, χ, ψ
In addition, double letters are treated as single for the purposes of
collation (as gemination had ceased to be distinctive). The system is
not difficult to learn and remember, but some editors—for example,
Immanuel Bekker – rearranged the
Little is known about the author, named "Suidas" in its prefatory
note. He probably lived in the second half of the 10th century,
because the death of emperor
John I Tzimiskes
John I Tzimiskes and his succession by
Basil II and
Constantine VIII are mentioned in the entry under "Adam"
which is appended with a brief chronology of the world. At any
rate, the work must have appeared by before the 12th century, since it
is frequently quoted from and alluded to by Eustathius who lived from
about 1115 AD to about 1195 or 1196.
The work deals with biblical as well as pagan subjects, from which it
is inferred that the writer was a Christian.
The standard printed edition was compiled by Danish classical scholar
Ada Adler in the first half of the twentieth century. A modern
Suda On Line, was completed on 21 July 2014.
Suda has a near-contemporaneous Islamic parallel, the Kitab
al-Fehrest of Ibn al-Nadim. Compare also the Latin Speculum Maius,
authored in the 13th century by Vincent of Beauvais.
Suidas (1834). Gaisford, Thomas; Küster, Ludolf, eds. Lexicon: post
Ludolphum Kusterum ad codices manuscriptos. A - Theta. 1. Typographeo
Academico. volume 2 (K - Psi), volume 3 (Rerum et nominum,
Adler, Ada (1928-38) Suidae Lexicon. Reprinted 1967-71, Stuttgart.
^ Gaisford Thomas; Küster, Ludolf, edd., (1834), Suidae Lexicon, 3
^ Bertrand Hemmerdinger, "Suidas, et non la Souda," Bollettino dei
classici, 3rd ser. 19 (1998), pp. 31f., defends the name Suidas
(Σουΐδας), arguing that the form Σουΐδα/Σοῦδα is a
^ a b c d e f g h i j k Chisholm (1911).
^ a b c d Herbermann (1913).
^ Krumbacher, Karl (1897), Byzantinische Literatur, p. 566, cited by
Karl Krumbacher concluded the two main biographical sources were
"Constantine VII for ancient history, Hamartolus (Georgios Monarchos)
for the Byzantine age".
^ Krumbacher, Karl, Geschichte der byzantinischen Litteratur, pp.
^ Gaisford, Thomas, ed., (1853) (Suidae lexicon: Graecè et Latinè,
Volume 1, Part 1, page XXXIX (in Greek and Latin)
^ "The History of the
Suda On Line". stoa.org. Retrieved 10 July 2015.
A translation of the last of the Suda’s 31000+ entries was submitted
to the database on July 21, 2014 and vetted the next day.
Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Sūïdas". Encyclopædia Britannica
Cambridge University Press.
Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "Suidas". Catholic
Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.
Dickey, Eleanor. Ancient Greek Scholarship: a guide to finding,
reading, and understanding scholia, commentaries, lexica, and
grammatical treatises, from their beginnings to the Byzantine period.
Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.
Mahoney, Anne. "Tachypaedia Byzantina: The
Suda On Line as
Digital Humanities Quarterly 3.1 (2009).
Index of the
Suda on line
Suda On Line. An on-line edition of the
Ada Adler edition with ongoing
translations and commentary by registered editors.
Suda lexicon at the Online Books Page
Lexicon in three volumes, Cambridge, 1705; Greek text and Latin
translation thereof at the Internet Archive: