The thing itself, the grand old thing, is one hundred and fifty-three years old. Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott—both born in 1811 and both Firsts at Oxford in 1833—published the first edition of A Greek-English Lexicon in 1843, six years into the reign of Victoria. During Liddell’s lifetime, it went through eight ever-expanding and improving editions. Liddell died in 1898 at the age of eighty-seven, co-creator of one of the glories of nineteenth-century practical scholarship. He and Scott rank with James Murray of the OED, with the compilers of the Encyclopedia Britannica, and with Leslie Stephen, editor of the Dictionary of National Biography, as wonderfully synthesizing minds. Look, for instance, at the six columns that take logos from “the account of money handled” to “the Word or Wisdom of God.” Liddell, like Stephen, has had his fame eclipsed by that of a...


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