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What does a (digital) critical edition look like?

Hugh Cayless

Duke University

The basic form of a critical edition is well established: an introduction which lays out the history of the text, bibliography, and any other relevant material, followed by a table of symbols used in the critical apparatus, followed by the text with app. crit. and sometimes other apparatuses, then, finally, appendices and indices, if any. Different types of edition treat these components differently: an edition of a text with a manuscript tradition will deal with the source documents the editor used, while an edition of an inscription or papyrus will talk more about the document’s context, history, and parallels. The critical apparatus of the former will look different from the latter’s, and the text of the inscription will pay attention to the materiality of the document and to the editor’s interventions, instead of (mostly) noting these in the apparatus.

Even among broadly similar kinds of edition, there may be a lot of variation in the information content of the apparatus. Giarratano’s edition of Calpurnius, for example, which was the first text to be encoded for the Digital Latin Library (https://digitallatin.org), presents a number of ms. readings simply because the editor was the first to collate those manuscripts. These are not viable readings, but they do present new (at the time) information about the shape of the manuscript tradition. An edition more focused on the reconstruction of the original text than on presentation of the mss. tradition might pass over a lot of this variation, or greatly compress it. Tarrant refers to these opposing editorial motivations as “maximalist” vs. “minimalist”. A digital edition could, in theory, even be “totalist”, presenting every variation in every available source, as well as all historical and current editorial conjectures. Robinson characterizes edition type on two axes instead of one: the kind of source being represented (from single-source to Lachmannian edition) and the editor’s relationship with their audience (who may range from beginners to fellow experts).

Even a totalist edition, which is possible in a digital medium, would require the judgement of an editor to be comprehensible and usable to a non-expert. To an expert, having the full range of textual variation at their fingertips appears ideal, because they know how to navigate among the choices, but to someone not already well-versed in the history of a text, that same variety will be paralyzing. In the development of the DLL’s text viewer, which uses a source document encoded using the Text Encoding Initiative’s guidelines (http://www.tei-c.org), all of these choices had to be considered. The interface must be capable of handling all kinds of Latin edition, and of representing the editor’s decisions about what information to convey to their audience, and how. It permits the reader to make choices about the reading of the text by manipulating the variant readings in the apparatus, but does so within the constraints set by the editor.

This paper will present examples of editions with very different requirements and discuss how the DLL viewer has been designed to handle them, and how it can be customized to represent even editions with very complex needs.

Session/Panel Title

The Digital Latin Library

Session/Paper Number

65.2

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