Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2001.09.34

P.M. Fraser, E. Matthews (ed.), A Lexicon of Greek Personal Names: Vol. IIIB. Central Greece: From the Megarid to Thessaly.   Oxford/New York:  Clarendon Press/Oxford University Press, 2000.  Pp. 478.  ISBN 0-19-815293-0.  $140.00.  

Reviewed by P.J. Smith, McGill University (
Word count: 1085 words

It was with great pleasure that I learned of the appearance in print of this volume of the LGPN, as it includes the Megarid, the region that I have spent several years researching. I only wish that it had already been available during the writing of my dissertation. I think it worthwhile to review briefly the entire LGPN series, before remarking on the present fascicle in order to show the monumental effort which the editors and their team have placed into this project. (Although there have been several reviews of individual volumes, including the very lengthy one for BMCR by R.W.B. Salway, there has not been an overview of the series.)

The original vision was to compile a lexicon which would replace the now outdated Pape-Benseler, Wörterbuch der griechischen Eigennamen of the mid-19th century. In the preface to Volume I (which covered the Aegean Islands, Cyprus and Cyrenaica), during his introduction to the series, Fraser gives the list of omissions from the lexicon as decided by the committee. The most notable among these are mythological and epic names, as well as strictly geographical names. He was well aware that there may be criticism on this basis, but felt that the magnitude of the task presented by their inclusion would be too great. One other category of names that seems to have suffered somewhat is names coming from a purely literary source, but which are not mythological or epic in nature (cf. note1).

Volume II, edited by M.J. Osborne & S.G. Byrne (the sole volume not compiled primarily on-site in Oxford) concentrated on Attica and required some special amendments to the original series layout, which Osborne notes in his introduction. He draws attention to the issue of inclusion, always something of prime importance in a lexicon. The one point I consider worthy of quoting in full for the edification of readers is the exclusion of long-term metics from their host city and their placement instead under their city of origin--"...The key issue is that many thousands of foreigners with ethnics are attested as having resided in Attica. In addition, most of them are known from the evidence of tomb inscriptions, so that their status as long term, if not permanent, residents is assured...This notwithstanding, the presence of the ethnic is enough to repatriate such metics to their 'home' city...We feel bound to draw to the attention of the reader this anomaly, which acquires some significance in a city like Athens which was always teeming with foreign residents" (Volume II, p. ix). Indeed, this would seem to swell the population figure of the home cities of the metics and decrease that of the city where they reside. Although Athens may have been the largest of the cities with a substantial population of metics, other trading cities, including Megara, would have had this same situation.

Volume IIIA contained the names for the Peloponnese, Western Greece, Sicily and Magna Graecia. There was a need, especially with this volume, to have the ability to deal with dialectic variance. This is even more pronounced in Volume IIIB when dealing with the dialects of Boiotia and Thessaly, and to a lesser extent the Doric dialect in the Megarid. Fraser expressed a wish in Volume IIIA (p.vii) that there could be a system of cross-referencing for differing forms of the same name, as well as a way to link dialectal forms. This was, alas, not possible for Volume IIIA, and was noted in at least one review of that volume (cf. CR 1999: 593).

The present volume covers Central Greece encompassing the regions of Phokis, East and West Lokris, Doris, Boiotia, Thessaly and the Megarid. One of the major improvements, possible because of technological advances in databases, has been the creation of a system of cross-referencing dialectal variants. Fraser explains this in detail in the introduction (pp. vii-viii). He remarks on how the cross-referencing system is structured and provides some caveats. It is to be a general reference tool solely to find other forms of a given name and not designed to be etymological, which some readers may find distressing. One of the useful features is that the cross-references are reciprocal, particularly useful if the name in its original form is dialectal and the reader wishes to know the standard form (especially since the names are given in the linguistic form of their home city, and only where appropriate will differing forms be provided). He is careful to point out, moreover, that this system is for Volume IIIB only and that no attempt has been made to link any of this to the previous volumes. One of the caveats given is that the system may treat the many simple orthographic variances as if they were distinct dialectal forms, and this is something that will need to be corrected in the programming. Overall, although admittedly not perfect (and nothing concerning a database will ever be perfect; this system is a step in the right direction for obtaining the maximum utility from the lexicon. Fraser also kindly provides readers with a reminder of some common linguistic differences of the Boiotian and Thessalian dialects (pp. vii-viii): e.g. ει becomes ι, Ἀμείνιχος becomes Ἀμίνιχος; οι becomes υ, Θοίναρχος becomes Θύναρχος; ε before α or ο becomes ι, Θεογείτων becomes Θιογείτων; initial δ and medial δδ become ζ, Δεύξιππος becomes Ζεύξιππος or Πολύδδαλος becomes Πολύζηλος.

To review a volume in a lexicon series presents certain difficulties compared to a straight scholarly book. On the pragmatic side, however, a lexicon is a tool that can be tested for accuracy, which is after all its main purpose. I spent quite some time going through the lexicon and checking it against my own prosopography of the Megarid and was pleased to find out that it succeeded quite well, especially with regard to names culled from the widely dispersed academic sources for epigraphy. I would have liked to see all of the bibliographic references included in the entry for each name, but this would have been an unwieldy increase in the size of the book (full bibliographic material will be provided in the final volume of the series).

This is not to say, however, that there have not been omissions, but they are not numerous.1 I look forward with anticipation to Volume IV, which will contain the onomastica for the Megarian colonies. I also commend the editors and their staff for their achievements and I am sure that epigraphists and historians will be grateful for the accurate tool they have provided us.2


1.   Names missing from the lexicon, based on verification of Megarian names only primarily from literary sources:

a) Ἀβρώτη--daughter of the Stilpon who is included in the lexicon
b) Νῖσος--the eponymous founder of the Megarian city of Nisaia.
c) Τηλεφάνης--a 3rd century BC flute-player.

2.   The total number of names for Volume III has exceeded Fraser's expectations expressed in Volume IIIA --'...the persons of Volume III (approximately 75,000)...'. In fact the total number for Volume III is 86,715 (Volume IIIA: 43,261; Volume IIIB: 43,454). The statistical breakdown is:
Volume IIIA -- Men: 36,848 -- Women: 6,335
Volume IIIB -- Men: 38,752 -- Women: 4,620.

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