Forcellini, Egidio

, an eminent lexicographer, was born in a small village of Treviso in the Venetian territories, August 16, 1688. His family was obscure, and scarcely wealthy enough to afford him a literary education. He went through his studies in the seminary of Padua, where his principal instructor was the celebrated philologist Facciolati, then professor in that place, and only six years older than himself. Evincing an early predilection for the church, he was at a proper age | ordained a priest, soon after which he was appointed spiritual director to the seminary in which he had been educated. After having filled that station for nine years, he removed, in 1724, to Ceneda, in the same capacity; but in 1731 he was recalled to Padua, and remained there till 1765, when be retired to his native place, with the design of passing his last years in the bosom of his family.

He was at first employed by Facciolati in the corrections and additions to the famous dictionary of Calepini, which the latter published at Padua, in 1718, and which, owing to its superior merit, justly superseded all the preceding works of the same kind in Italy. He was likewise employed by Facciolati in the compilation of the famous dictionary entitled “Ortografia Italiana,” which has already gone through many editions, and which is absolutely necessary to all who wish to write Italian with orthographical accuracy. So great was Forcellini’s modesty, that the public would not have been informed of the assistance he rendered in these two excellent works, had not Facciolati himself declared, in his preface to the last, “that he had the satisfaction of bringing up a pupil of singular abilities, the abbe” Forcellini, who was afterwards his assistant in the im^ proved edition of Calepini, and in the compilation of the Ortografia."

It was greatly advantageous to the cause of letters that Mr. Forcellini, being introduced to the notice of cardinal Cornaro, bishop of Padua, received from that prelate an order to compile a new Latin Dictionary, in which all the deficiencies of the preceding edition of Calepini’s performance, for the Latin department, should be supplied. Perhaps no person was better qualified for such an undertaking, or was possessed of more steadiness, patience, and perseverance; an almost incredible proof of which is, that he employed in it in-aHy forty years of his life He ransacked not only all the Latin writers of the several ages of Roman literature, but all the ancient grammarians, and every collection of inscriptions which had been published to his time. To each of the Latin words inserted in this new Dictionary he affixed the corresponding Italian and Greek, and, to render the work still more complete, he subjoined to u a copious list of barbarous words, and a numerous catalogue of the writers whose works he had investigated. The performance was soon considered classical and unrivalled. | Besides the intimate friendship of Facciolati, his preceptor and benefactor, the abbe Forceliini was highly esteemed by Morgagni, Pontedera, Valsecchi, and other eminent professors in the university of Padua. His learning and his merit would have advanced him to high literary honours, had he been less modest and unassuming. He was regular in his domestic life, candid, disinterested, and exemplary; and as a literary character, he was satisfied that his memory would be dear to and respected by posterity. He died April 4, 1768.

His great dictionary is entitled “Totius Latinitatis Lexicon, consilio et cura Jacobi Facciolati, opera et studio Ægidii Forceliini, alumni seminarii Patavini, lucubratum” and the edition of it which we have seen was published at Padua in 1771, 4 vols. in folio. 1


Fabroni Vitæ Italorum, Baldwin’s Literary Journal