Samuel Huskey and Hugh Cayless
For as long as the internet has existed, people have been putting Latin texts online in one form or another, but we still have few examples of fully digital critical editions. The problem is mostly a technical one. It is easy enough to put a plain text online, but the difficulties increase exponentially when you consider adding a preface, manuscript descriptions, a critical apparatus, and the other information typically found in printed editions. Linking all of that information together in a meaningful, useful way presents still another challenge. All of these difficulties become manageable if you think of traditional critical editions not so much as books, but as data structures. A critical edition is an editor’s model of the text, constructed with a hypothesized text and a set of arguments, evidence, and alternate possibilities in the apparatus. It is a repository of information that must be processed and analyzed by human readers.
A major goal of the Digital Latin Library has been to create a data model for representing the information presented in critical editions. Over the past five years, we have developed a model and experimented with different ways of implementing it. The purpose of this paper will be to explain why it is important to have a comprehensive data model for critical editions and to demonstrate some of the things that can be done with a text that follows that model.
We will discuss the process for developing the model, and we will demonstrate two applications of the model: a web-based tool for reading and interacting with the text, and a desktop-based tool for visual analysis of textual data. We will conclude with a brief description of the Library of Digital Latin Texts, a forum for publishing digital critical editions under the aegis of the Society for Classical Studies, the Medieval Academy of America, or the Renaissance Society of America.
Digital Textual Editions and Corpora