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Egidio Forcellini

Latin lexicographer, b. at Fener, near Treviso, Italy, Aug. 26, 1688; d. at Padua, April 4, 1768

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Forcellini, EGIDIO, Latin lexicographer, b. at Fener, near Treviso, Italy, August 26, 1688; d. at Padua, April 4, 1768. His parents were poor, so that he was deprived of the opportunities of an early education, and he was of mature age when in 1704 he entered the seminary at Padua. There his ability and industry soon attracted the attention of his teacher, Facciolati, who secured his assistance in his lexicographical work. Forcellini collaborated with his master in revising the so-called “Calepinus”, the Latin dictionary, in seven languages, of the monk Ambrosius Calepinus. While engaged in this work, Forcellini is said to have conceived the idea of an entirely new Latin lexicon, the most comprehensive ever compiled. Towards the end of 1718, under the direction of Facciolati, he began the laborious task of reading through the entire body of Latin literature as well as the whole collection of inscriptions. His labors were interrupted in 1724, when he was called to Ceneda, where he became professor of rhetoric and director of the seminary. He resumed his work on the lexicon on his recall to Padua in 1731. It was not until three years after Forcellini’s death that this great lexicon, on which he had spent nearly forty years of untiring industry, and which is the basis of all the Latin lexicons now in use, was published at Padua in four folio volumes under the tite, “Totius Latinitatis Lexicon”. In it are given both the Italian and the Greek equivalents of every word, together with copious citations from the literature. There is an English edition by Bailey in two volumes (London, 1828). The latest complete edition is that of De Vit (Prato, 1858-87).

EDMUND BURKE


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