(γλῶσσα) and Glossēma (γλώσσημα). In the language of text-criticism, a “gloss.” The word underwent a gradual development of meaning, which may be described with brevity. By the earliest Greek commentators and editors of texts, γλῶσσα denoted any word in an author that required definition or explanation. Such were (a) archaisms; (b) ἅπαξ λεγόμενα and newly-coined words; (c) provincialisms; (d) barbarisms; and (e) technical terms (cf. Arist. Poet.21. 4-6; Rhet.iii. 3 Rhet., 2; Quint.i. 8). In editing or transcribing a text it was usual for the editor or transcriber to define the γλῶσσα by writing opposite to it in the margin the more familiar synonym (ὄνομα κύριον). The term γλῶσσα soon came to be applied to the pair of words—the word in the text and the definition in the margin—the two being regarded as constituting a single whole. Finally, the explanation alone was called a γλῶσσα. With these glosses begins the history of lexicography; for collections of them began to be made, and published separately as glossaria or glossaries. Such was the compilation of the elegiac poet Philetas of Cos, whose collection was the first attempt at an Homeric glossary (cf. Susemihl, Geschichte d. griech. Lit. in d. alexandr. Zeit, i. p. 174 foll.). We know of glosses as early as the fifth century B.C., for Democritus of Abdera is said to have written a treatise Περὶ Ὁμήρον ἢ Ὀρθοεπέιης καὶ Γλωσσάων. (See Lexicon.) Glosses soon ceased to be purely lexical, and from definitions became commentary— geographical, historical, philosophical, or philological—according to the taste or purpose of the glossographer. When these explanatory glosses are fairly brief, they are usually styled scholia (σχόλια); when long, they constitute ὑπομνήματα or regular commentaries, such as the Alexandrians wrote. See Alexandrian School.

The principal glossographers among the Greeks were Philetas (about B.C. 290), Zenodotus of Ephesus (about B.C. 280), compiler of Γλῶσσαι Ὁμηρικαί; Aristophanes of Byzantium (B.C. 200), whose glosses are partly preserved by Pollux; Diodorus, Artemidorus, Nicander of Colophon, Aristarchus of Samothrace, Crates of Mallos, Zenodotus of Mallos, Didymus Chalcenteros, Apollonius Sophista (about B.C. 20), Neoptolemus, known distinctively as ὁ γλωσσογράφος; Apion (at Rome under Claudius), Erotion, Pamphilus, Aelius Herodianus, Pollux, Phrynichus in the second century A.D., Ammonius of Alexandria in the fourth century, the famous Hesychius (q.v.), Photius, Suidas, Zonaras, and the author of the Etymologicum Magnum (q. v.). Of the Romans, Aurelius Opilius, Aelius Stilo, Varro, Verrius Flaccus, and Festus deserve especial mention. Of technical glosses, those on the legal compilations of Justinian are very important. Of these, two famous compilers were Cyrillus and Philoxenus.