The ''Suda'' or ''Souda'' (; grc-x-medieval, Σοῦδα, Soûda; la, Suidae Lexicon) is a large 10th-century
Byzantine The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, or Byzantium, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in its eastern provinces during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople. It surviv ...

encyclopedia An encyclopedia (American English), encyclopædia (archaic spelling), or encyclopaedia (British English) is a reference work or compendium providing summaries of knowledge either from all branches or from a particular field or discipline. ...
of the ancient Mediterranean world, formerly attributed to an author called Soudas (Σούδας) or Souidas (Σουίδας). It is an encyclopedic
lexicon A lexicon is the of a or branch of (such as or ). In , a lexicon is a language's inventory of s. The word ''lexicon'' derives from word (), neuter of () meaning 'of or for words'. Linguistic theories generally regard human languages as c ...

, written in
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
, 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 Souda ( el, Σούδα) is a town and former municipality in the Chania regional unit, Crete Crete ( el, Κρήτη, translit=, : , : '','' ) is the largest and most populous of the , the largest island in the world and the largest island ...
'', 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. A more recent theory by Carlo Maria Mazzucchi (
Catholic University of the Sacred Heart
Catholic University of the Sacred Heart
Milan Milan (, , Milanese: ; it, Milano ) is a city in northern Italy, capital of Lombardy, and the List of cities in Italy, second-most populous city proper in Italy after Rome. The city proper has a population of about 1.4 million, while its ...

) sees the composition of the encyclopedia as a collective work, probably in a school; during the process, the entries (from more than forty sources) were written down on file cards collected in a fitting receptacle, before having been transcribed on quires. This happened before A.D. 970, and then further entries were added in the margins. Mazzucchi explains the name Σοῦδα (meaning "ditch") as both an acrostic of Συναγωγὴ ὁνομάτων ὑπὸ διαφὸρων ἁρμοσθεῖσα ("Collection of nouns assembled from different ources) and a memory of the receptacle which used to contain the file cards. Most likely the name is the acronym ΣΟΥΙΔΑ = ΣΥΝΤΑΞΙΣ ΟΝΟΜΑΣΤΙΚΗΣ ΥΛΗΣ ΙΔΙΑ ΑΛΦΑΒΗΤΙΚΗΣ (ΣΕΙΡΑΣ): Composition of Named Subjects in (by) Alphabetical (Order). It is clearly stated upfront: ΤΟ ΜΕΝ ΠΑΡΟΝ ΒΙΒΛΙΟΝ, ΣΟYΙΔΑ. ΟΙ ΔΕ ΣΥΝΤΑΞΑΜΕΝΟΙ ΤΟΥΤΟ ΑΝΔΡΕΣ ΣΟΦΟΙ. (THE PRESENT BOOK, SOYΙDA. THOSE THAT COMPOSED IT WISE MEN). There are eleven wise men listed along with details of their specific contributions.

Content and sources

The ''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 Philology is the study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken language), gestures (Signed language, sign language) and writing. Most languages have a writing system composed o ...
of its period, using such earlier authorities as
Harpocration__NOTOC__ Valerius Harpocration ( grc-gre, Οὐαλέριος or , ''gen''. Ἁρποκρατίωνος) was a Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic R ...
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" compilation. Much of the work is probably interpolated, and passages that refer to
Michael Psellos Michael Psellos or Psellus ( grc-gre, Μιχαὴλ Ψελλός, Michaḗl Psellós, ) was a Byzantine Greek Medieval Greek (also known as Middle Greek or Byzantine Greek) is the stage of the Greek language Greek (modern , romanized: ''E ...

Michael Psellos
(c. 1017–78) are deemed interpolations which were added in later copies.

Biographical notices

lexicon A lexicon is the of a or branch of (such as or ). In , a lexicon is a language's inventory of s. The word ''lexicon'' derives from word (), neuter of () meaning 'of or for words'. Linguistic theories generally regard human languages as c ...

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 Hesychius of Miletus ( el, Ἡσύχιος ὁ Μιλήσιος, translit=Hesychios o Milesios), Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic ...
, as the author himself avers. Other sources were the encyclopedia of
Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus (; 17 May 905 – 9 November 959) was the fourth Byzantine emperor, Emperor of the Macedonian dynasty of the Byzantine Empire, reigning from 6 June 913 to 9 November 959. He was the son of Emperor Leo VI and his f ...

Constantine VII Porphyrogenitus
(912–59) for the figures in ancient history, excerpts of John of Antioch (seventh century) for
Roman history The history of Rome includes the history of the Rome, city of Rome as well as the Ancient Rome, civilisation of ancient Rome. Roman history has been influential on the modern world, especially in the history of the Catholic Church, and Roman law ...
, the chronicle of Hamartolus (
Georgios Monachos George Hamartolos or Hamartolus ( el, ) was a monk at Constantinople under Michael III (842–867) and the author of a chronicle of some importance. Hamartolus is not his name but the epithet he gives to himself in the title of his work: "A compend ...
, 9th century) for the Byzantine age. The biographies of
Diogenes Laërtius Diogenes Laërtius ( ; grc-gre, Διογένης Λαέρτιος, Dīogénēs Lāértios; ) was a biographer of the Ancient Greece, Greek philosophers. Nothing is definitively known about his life, but his surviving ''Lives and Opinions of Em ...
, and the works of
Athenaeus Athenaeus of Naucratis Naucratis or Naukratis ( grc-gre, Ναύκρατις, "Naval Command"; Egyptian Egyptian describes something of, from, or related to Egypt. Egyptian or Egyptians may refer to: Nations and ethnic groups * Egyptians, a n ...
Philostratus Philostratus or Lucius Flavius Philostratus (; grc-gre, Φλάβιος Φιλόστρατος; c. 170 – 247/250 AD), called "the Athenian", was a Greek sophist of the Roman Empire, Roman imperial period. His father was a minor sophist of the sa ...
. Other principal sources include a lexicon by " Eudemus," perhaps derived from the work ''On Rhetorical Language'' by Eudemus of Argos.

Lost scholia

The lexicon copiously draws from
scholia Scholia (singular scholium or scholion, from grc, σχόλιον, "comment, interpretation") are grammatical In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of langu ...
to the classics (
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally re ...

Aristophanes Aristophanes (; grc, Ἀριστοφάνης, ; c. 446 – c. 386 BC), son of Philippus, of the deme 250px, Pinakia, identification tablets (name, father's name, deme) used for tasks like jury selection, Museum at the Ancient Agora of Athe ...

Thucydides Thucydides (; grc-gre, Θουκυδίδης ; BC) was an Athenian , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clicking on an image in the picture causes the browser to load the app ...
Sophocles Sophocles (; grc, Σοφοκλῆς, ; 497/6 – winter 406/5 BC)Sommerstein (2002), p. 41. is one of three ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , ...

, etc.), and for later writers,
Polybius Polybius (; grc-gre, Πολύβιος, ; ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic period The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the ...

Josephus Flavius Josephus (; grc-gre, Ἰώσηπος, ; 37 – 100) was a first-century and military leader, best known for ', who was born in —then part of —to a father of descent and a mother who claimed royal ancestry. He initially fought a ...

, the ''
Chronicon Paschale ''Chronicon Paschale'' (the ''Paschal'' or ''Easter Chronicle''), also called ''Chronicum Alexandrinum'', ''Constantinopolitanum'' or ''Fasti Siculi'', is the conventional name of a 7th-century Greek Christian chronicle A chronicle ( la, chron ...

Chronicon Paschale
George SyncellusGeorge Syncellus ( el, Γεώργιος Σύγκελλος, ''Georgios Synkellos''; died after 810) was a Byzantine chronicler and ecclesiastic. He had lived many years in Palestine (probably in the Old Lavra of Saint Chariton or Souka, near Tekoa) ...
George Hamartolus George Hamartolos or Hamartolus ( el, ) was a monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-Europea ...
, and so on. The ''Suda'' quotes or paraphrases these sources at length. Since many of the originals are lost, the ''Suda'' serves as 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 Digraph may refer to: * Digraph (orthography) A digraph or digram (from the el, δίς ', "double" and ', "to write") is a pair of characters used in the orthography An orthography is a set of conventions for writing Writing is a m ...
, e.g. , that had been previously, earlier in the history of Greek, distinct
diphthong A diphthong ( ; , ), also known as a gliding vowel, is a combination of two adjacent vowel A vowel is a Syllable, syllabic speech sound pronounced without any stricture in the vocal tract. Vowels are one of the two principal classes of spe ...
s or vowels) according to a system (formerly common in many languages) called ''antistoichia'' (); namely the letters follow phonetically in order of sound, in the pronunciation of the tenth century which is similar to
that ''That'' is an English-language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading language of internat ...
of Modern Greek. The order is: In addition, double letters are treated as single for the purposes of collation (as
gemination In phonetics and phonology, gemination (), or consonant lengthening (from Latin 'doubling', itself from ''Gemini (constellation), gemini'' 'twins'), is an articulation of a consonant for a longer period of time than that of a singleton consonan ...

had ceased to be distinctive). The system is not difficult to learn and remember, but some editors—for example,
Immanuel Bekker August Immanuel Bekker (21 May 17857 June 1871) was a German philologist Philology is the study of language in oral and written historical sources; it is the intersection of textual criticism, literary criticism, history, and linguistics (with ...

Immanuel Bekker
– rearranged the ''Suda'' alphabetically.


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 (; – 10 January 976) was the senior Byzantine Emperor from 11 December 969 to 10 January 976. An intuitive and successful general, he strengthened the Empire and expanded its borders during his short reign. Background ...
and his succession by
Basil II Basil II Porphyrogenitus ( gr, Βασίλειος πορφυρογέννητος, translit=Basileios porphyrogennētos;) and, most often, the porphyrogennetos, Purple-born ( gr, ὁ πορφυρογέννητος, translit=ho porphyrogennetos ...
Constantine VIII Constantine VIII Porphyrogenitus ( el, Κωνσταντῖνος Η΄ Πορφυρογέννητος, ''Kōnstantinos VIII Porphyrogénnetos''; 960 – 11 November 1028) was ''de jure In law and government A government ...

Constantine VIII
are mentioned in the entry under "
Adam Adam (; Aramaic Aramaic (: ''Arāmāyā''; : ; : ; ) is a language that originated among the in the ancient , at the end of the , and later became one of the most prominent languages of the . During its three thousand years long his ...
" which is appended with a brief
chronology Chronology (from Latin ''chronologia'', from Ancient Greek , ''chrónos'', "time"; and , ''wikt:-logia, -logia'') is the science of arranging events in their order of occurrence in time. Consider, for example, the use of a timeline or sequence ...
of the world. At any rate, the work must have appeared by 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. It has also been stated that the work was a collective work, thus not having had a single author, and that the name which it is known under does not refer to a specific person. The work deals with
biblical The Bible (from Koine Greek τὰ βιβλία, ''tà biblía'', "the books") is a collection of religious texts or scriptures sacred to Christians, Jews, Samaritans, Rastafari and others. It appears in the form of an anthology, a compilat ...

as well as
pagan Paganism (from classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, includ ...
subjects, from which it is inferred that the writer was a
Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ''Christian'' derive from the Koi ...

. In any case, it lacks definite guidelines besides some minor interest in religious matters. The standard printed edition was compiled by Danish classical scholar
Ada Adler
Ada Adler
in the first half of the twentieth century. A modern translation, the ''Suda On Line,'' was completed on 21 July 2014. The ''Suda'' has a near-contemporaneous Islamic parallel, the '' Kitab al-Fehrest'' of
Ibn al-Nadim Abū al-Faraj Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq al-Nadīm ( ar, ابو الفرج محمد بن إسحاق النديم), also ibn Abī Ya'qūb Isḥāq ibn Muḥammad ibn Isḥāq al-Warrāq, and commonly known by the '' nasab'' (patronymic) Ibn al-Nadīm ...
. Compare also the Latin '' Speculum Maius'', authored in the 13th century by
Vincent of Beauvais Vincent ( la, Vincentius) is a male given name derived from the Roman name Vincentius, which is derived from the Latin word (''to conquer''). People with the given name Artists * Vincent Apap (1909–2003), Maltese sculptor *Vincent van Gogh ...


* *
volume 2
(K - Psi)
volume 3
(Rerum et nominum, Glossarum, Scriptorum) *
Adler, Ada
Adler, Ada
(1928-38) ''Suidae Lexicon''. Reprinted 1967-71, Stuttgart.


;Citations ;Bibliography * Abrantes, Miguel Carvalho (2021)
Greek Myths in the Suda
KDP. * * 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 Collaborative Encyclopedia,
''_3.1.html" ;"title="Digital Humanities Quarterly">''Digital Humanities Quarterly
'' 3.1">Digital Humanities Quarterly">''Digital Humanities Quarterly
'' 3.1(2009).

External links

Index of the Suda on line

''Suda'' On Line
An on-line edition of the
Ada Adler
Ada Adler
edition with ongoing translations and commentary by registered editors.
Suda lexicon
at the Online Books Page {{Authority control 10th-century books 10th century in the Byzantine Empire Byzantine Greek encyclopedias