July 20th, 2006

Vanitas desk


The Latin word I had the hardest time tracking down meaning for today was hodegus. Lewis & Short, RMLWL, the OED, my German dictionary... none of them had offerings that looked anything like this word which had been nonchalantly dropped into an eighteenth-century book title.

A web search came indirectly to the rescue by telling me "3. Anastasius, a presbyter and monk of Mt. Sinai, called by later Greek writers "the New Moses" (Mwo-r?s j/eos), lived towards the end of 7th cen tury, as is clear from the contents of his "Hodegus.""

"Later Greek writers...." Hodegus is a Greek word*, Romanized by those well-educated eighteenth-century types for whom every well-educated individual was one fluent in reading and writing both Greek and Latin. And indeed, there are a handful of Latin book titles from that century to feature the word prominently. For your future reference and mine, it means "guide".

* My thanks to my father for having a Greek dictionary handy.