Logo der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften

Thesaurus linguae Latinae (TLL)

Menu

Treasury of Ancient Latin

The Thesaurus linguae Latinae is the most authoritative dictionary of ancient Latin. It is the only lexicon to cover all surviving Latin texts from the earliest times down to AD 600. Therefore it not only takes account of classical Latin but also treats in detail the special features of the language of late antiquity and Christian texts. As well as literary works, it examines medical and legal manuals, inscriptions, graffiti and many other types of text.

The reliability and scholarly standards of the Thesaurus were impossible to achieve with a mere revision of the tried and tested dictionaries of the past. For centuries, Latin dictionaries were mainly seen as tools for improving the active mastery of the language. This meant that they were based on the most highly regarded stylistic models, above all, on Cicero. To correct this one-sided presentation of the language, a new beginning was needed.

‘Probably the most scholarly dictionary in the world is the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae.’
Encyclopaedia Britannica s. v. ‘Dictionary’

The foundation of the work is the archive of dictionary slips. The archive is exhaustive for all surviving Latin texts down to the second century of the Christian era. For the later period a selection of examples was made by specialists; this sensible restriction limited the overall quantity of material, which otherwise, by its sheer volume, would have made the work impossible. Each passage containing a particular word is examined with regard to meaning, spelling, prosody and so on, and groups of similar examples are then formed. These groups are presented, not in lists arranged according to possible translations of the Latin words, but in a hierarchical scheme, with definitions and explanations in Latin, illustrating the development of the various senses. In this way the history of each word is described. The fact that the relevant context is normally quoted allows the user to check the results. Since 2002 the Thesaurus has also existed in digital form.

As an institution the Thesaurus is an internationally recognised centre of expertise for ancient Latin. Its resources are made available to researchers from all over the world, and young scholars sent to work on the dictionary by some of the 30 academies involved in the project – both in Germany and abroad – receive a valuable post-university training here.

Cooperation

The International Commission for the Thesaurus linguae Latinae consists of the eight German Academies and one learned society from each of the countries involved. The names of the current delegates can be found here.

Austria:

Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften

Belgium:

The Royal Academies for Science and the Arts of Belgium

Croatia:

Hrvatska Akademija Znanosti i Umjetnosti

Czech Republic:

Akademie věd České republiky

Denmark:

Det Kongelige Danske Videnskabernes Selskab

Estonia:

Eesti Teaduste Akadeemia

Finland:

Suomen Tiedeakatemiain Valtuuskunta

France:

Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres

Germany:

Akademie der Wissenschaften in Göttingen

 

Akademie der Wissenschaften in Hamburg

 

Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Mainz

 

Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften

 

Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften

 

Heidelberger Akademie der Wissenschaften

 

Nordrhein-Westfälische Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Künste

 

Sächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Leipzig

Great Britain:

The British Academy

Hungary:

Magyar Tudományos Akadémia

Ireland:

Royal Irish Academy

Italy:

Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei

Japan:

The Japan Academy

Netherlands:

OnderzoeksInstituut Klassieke Oudheid Studiën

Norway:

Det Norske Videnskaps-Akademi

Poland:

Polska Akademia Umiejętności

Slovenia:

Slovenska Akademija Znanosti in Umetnosti

Spain:

Real Academia Española

Sweden:

Kungliga Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien

Switzerland:

Schweizerische Vereinigung für Altertumswissenschaft

USA:

Society for Classical Studies

Vatican:

Pontificia Academia Latinitatis

and:

Fédération Internationale des Associations d’Études Classiques

The Thesaurus is member of the Zentrum historische Sprachwissenschaften in collaboration with the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Munich.

Together with the AICC (Associazione Italiana di Cultura Classica), the Thesaurus regularly offers a scholarship for young Italian researchers.

Funding

The Federal Republic of Germany and the Free State of Bavaria within the framework of a funding programme established jointly by the German Academies. In addition there are contributions from the members of the International Commission for the Thesaurus linguae Latinae as well as from other benefactors.