As one of the cornerstones upon which Classical scholarship has been built, much has already been said about Marcus Tullius Cicero. He has a sizable extant corpus that contains different genres, which in turn vary in style and topic. Furthermore, Cicero was a prominent political figure when the Roman Republic was falling and the Caesars were rising. Because of the nature of his corpus and the man himself, Cicero is an attractive topic of research not only for the traditional scholar but for a digital humanist as well. His large and varied corpus is promising for distant reading techniques, which allow us to examine and explore all of his works, thereby all of Cicero, easily and quickly. Through those digital techniques, we can gain a more complete view of who this ancient Roman man was.
Logeion allows searches of a series of Greek and Latin dictionaries and classical reference works. It was developed beginning in 2011 at the University of Chicago by students Josh Goldenberg and Matt Shanahan under the direction of Professor Helma Dik, and regularly adds new features and resources. Inspired by the innovative Dictionnaire vivant de la langue française, also based at the University of Chicago, it began with a nucleus of several reference works originally digitized by Perseus.
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:
Papyri.info is a resource for the study of documentary papyri with two parts. The first, the Papyrological Navigator (PN), whose development began in 2006, aims to integrate and allow simultaneous querying of five existing papyrological databases. The focus thus far is on Greek and Latin texts, with selective inclusion of Coptic. A later development, the Papyrological Editor (PE), launched in 2010, offers the facility for users to contribute directly, in the form of corrections to entered data, new data entry, in particular new text editions, and even “born digital” editions of their own, all reviewed by an editorial board.
Hackathons, events where software developers gather together to create in community a usable piece of computer programming in a short frame of time, are common occurrences in tech circles. One hosted this past February by the College of the Holy Cross, however, was the first time I’d seen this type of group work applied to translating ancient manuscripts.
How can digital humanities projects within the field of Classics preserve and allow public access to endangered materials? The Wisconsin Palmyrene Aramaic Inscription Project (WPAIP) is already addressing theses question head-on. WPAIP is a digital humanities project housed at the Digital Collections of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and established by Jeremy M. Hutton. Similar to the Palmyra Portrait Project of Aarhus University in Denmark, which works to collate and digitize Palmyrene portraiture, the primary goal of WPAIP is to collate and digitize Palmyrene Aramaic inscriptions. This allows researchers to then analyze the language of Palmyrene Aramaic, the development and variations of its script, and other features.
As the name suggests, the Digital Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum (DFHG) is an online edition of Karl Müller’s Fragmenta Historicorum Graecorum (1841–1873). Müller’s work was a five-volume collection of fragmentary Greek historians, to which were added (in Latin) overviews of each author (with embedded testimonia), translation of fragments, and, often, brief commentary. Its online successor is elegantly presented, meticulously cross-referenced and admirably accessible— if somewhat quixotic. I will begin with an overview of what the FHG contains, describe the DFHG’s interface and features, and then offer some thoughts about the usefulness of the project in a context where Jacoby Online (recently reviewed in this forum by Matt Simonton) already exists.
Ongoing discussions in academic circles about the value and purpose of 3-D immersive technologies have lately been sharpened by the emergence of consumer-ready VR and inexpensive game engines, especially Unity. One side of that discussion asserts that, in an academic context, these technologies are primarily valuable to the extent that they advance serious scientific and data visualization research. Others maintain that game design and “play” more broadly are equally important, and can transform how we teach many subjects. One approach does not exclude the other, of course, but my own experience has convinced me of the exciting potential of the latter, play-based, mode. For classicists, interdisciplinary as we are, the 3-D interactive future of research and teaching beyond textbooks holds important opportunities, especially if we take an active, collaborative role in shaping that future.
The pitfalls facing intermediate Latin students as they move from a basic knowledge of forms and the simplified Latin of textbooks to actually reading Latin are well-known. It’s not just the artful word order or sophisticated grammar of classical texts. As Kenneth Kitchell emphasized in a well-known article (Kitchell 2000), the geographical and cultural knowledge required can baffle even the student well trained in verb forms, case usage, and syntax. Then there is the well-known tendency of students themselves to ignore low-hanging fruit, to spurn the solicitously extended helping hand in the form of commentaries on their Latin texts, notes specifically designed to help them surmount these difficulties. What can be done?