All Scholars

FORCELLINI, Egidio

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  • Date of Birth: August 26, 1688
  • Born City: Campo Sampiero, near Treviso
  • Born State/Country: Italy
  • Date of Death: April 5, 1768
  • Death City: Campo Sampiero
  • Death State/Country: Italy
  • Education:

    : Padua seminary, 1711.

  • Professional Experience:

    Professor rhetoric & dir. seminary, Ceneda, 1724-30; 1731-65, father confessor, seminary, Padua, 1731-65.

  • Publications:

    Totius Latinitatis lexicon, consilio et cura Jacobi Facciolati opera et studio Aegidii Forcellini, lucubratum, 4 vols. (Padua: Seminary, 1771; 3rd enlarged ed., rev. by Joseph Furlanetto, 1827-31; English ed. James Bailey (1828); rev. ed by Vincent De Vit (Rome: Aldine, 1858-79); rev. and enlarged ed. by Francisco Corradini (Padua: Seminary, 1896).

  • Notes:

    Born in poverty, Forcellini had no means to acquire a good education. He trained for the ministry and at 16 entered the seminary at Padua where he studied under the lexicographer Jacopo Facciolati (1682-1769).  He assisted his mentor in the revision of the polylingual Latin dictionary of the Augustinian monk Ambrogio Calepino (ca. 1440-1510) originally published in 1502 but revised and reprinted many times. The Basel edition contained eleven languages. Facciolati’s edition contained seven languages and was often reprinted. However many languages it contained and whatever edition was used, it was called simply “The Calepinus.” Forcellini assisted in the revision of Cornelis Schrevel’s (1608-64) 1661 Lexicon manuale Graeco-Latinum et Latino-Graecum. After working on Facciolati’s edition, Forcellini conceived of an entirely new sort of dictionary, and in 1718 began the task of reading all of Latin literature and all known inscriptions. A new bishop called Forcellini to Ceneda interrupted his work for seven years, but when that bishop was replaced, Forcellini was called back to Padua where he resumed his study. In all Forcellini spent 40 years on his dictionary, which gave Italian and Greek equivalents for all the Latin words. He completed his research in 1753 and spent the next two years revising it. The 28 volumes were transcribed by Luigi Violato and Forcellini was allowed to retire to his birthplace. Meanwhile there were no efforts to publish the dictionary. When Cardinal Antonio Maria Priuli (1707-72) was named bishop of Padua (1767-72) by Pope Clement XIII (1693-1769), one of his first commands was that the dictionary be published. It finally appeared three years after Forcellini’s death. The work quickly became standard and was revised and enlarged (a British edition appeared in 1828) for over 100 years after its initial appearance. 

  • Sources:

    Sandys, 2: 374-7; Marcus Beck, Brill, 203-4.

  • Author: Ward Briggs