Can a computer understand the hendecasyllables of Catullus, the declamations of Seneca, or the letters of Pliny? Not yet, and maybe never in any conventional sense of this word. No one has succeeded so far in teaching a computer to comprehend language – that is, to reason about, generate, act upon and, importantly, communicate intentions through symbolic speech – let alone to appreciate texts written in a dead language with a sophisticated literary tradition. (Embodied cognitive science claims, in fact, that without a human body no computer can ever hope to achieve human understanding). But it is possible to represent the meanings of the Latin language in a way that can be manipulated and analysed by computers. The idea of training machines in these meanings forms the basis for the field of natural language understanding, which is a specialized kind of natural language processing (NLP) focused on modelling linguistic semantics.
The Scaife Viewer of the Perseus Project pursues a simple goal: to provide a clear and enjoyable reading experience of the Greek and Latin texts and translations of the Perseus Digital Library. It is the first installment of Perseus 5.0 and eventually will replace Perseus’ current interface, Perseus Hopper, as the primary means for accessing the texts and translations of the Perseus library. In its goal to simplify access to Perseus’ repository of texts, the Scaife Viewer is a success. Its layout is uncluttered, its texts legible, its design refreshing. As a result, the Scaife Viewer is a welcome re-imagining of how users read Perseus texts.
EAGLE, the Electronic Archive of Greek and Latin Epigraphy, was conceived in 1997 by the Italian Epigrapher Silvio Panciera (1933–2016). Based at Sapienza — Università di Roma, it appeared under the aegis of the Association Internationale d’Épigraphie Grecque et Latine (AIEGL) and an international steering committee. The site launched in 2003, with the goal of providing a gateway for the search of all Greek and Latin inscriptions.
It began with a collaboration of four major databases of Roman inscriptions. Briefly: